Indian Census-2021 is not possible at least till May 2024. In a recent notification to all the state government Modi Government extended the date of freezing the administrative boundaries in India till 30th June 2023. Census can start only 3 months after freezing the administrative boundaries. Thus census cannot start before the first week of October 2023.
Lok Sabha Election 2024:
Conducting the census in India takes around 11 months. Thus even if census-2021 starts in October 2023 it cannot be completed before September 2024. Census can also not be scheduled during any election and India will be conducting Lok Sabha Election from March-April 2024. Thus technically Census-2021 is not possible before the formation of a new government in May 2024. Even if Census-2021 starts right after the formation of a new government in May 2024, it won’t be finished before May 2025. The publication of all the census reports may take another 3-4 years.
Never Happened in History:
India is perhaps the only country in the world where Census enumeration was never disrupted despite the fact that the country faced several calamities including the 1919 Influenza pandemic, the Second World War, the 1971 War with Pakistan, the Economic Reform of 1991 in the middle of the process of conducting the census. We have lost this pride now as the Census 2021 was delayed for more than five years.
While India is consistently delaying Census-2021, 15 Countries across the world including China, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea etc conducted in the middle of COVID-19 during the year 2020. At least five countries conducted Census during the year 2021 while countries like Bangladesh, Argentina, and Brazil did the same in 2022. Census in Pakistan has already started and shall be completed by 4 March 2023.
India is supposed to go through delimitation of electoral constituencies after 2026. The last delimitation exercise was done between the years 2002 and 2008. The Delimitation Commission was formed in the year 2002 and after consistent delays, it remained in the files only. It was only after the interference from the Supreme Court of India, that Government finally implemented the delimitation during 2007-08.
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There is every possibility that if India conduct would have conducted its Census-2021 on time, the current government might have been forced by opposition parties to conduct a nationwide caste census along with Census-2021. The UPA government barely managed to escape conducting Caste Census along with Census-2011 citing a shortage of time as by the time resolution regarding the caste census passed in parliament the process of conducting Census-2011 had almost started. UPA government was compelled to conduct a separate Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011, though the report of this has yet not been published.
The last Caste Census conducted in India was in 1931. Almost all Backward Class Commissions formed since the independence of the country pointed out the absence of caste-based data in preparing any authentic report on the condition of backward communities in the country. Almost every single effort of affirmative discrimination on the basis of caste by the state government gets challenged in the judicial system of the country. This is always followed by the formation of backward commissions and Backward commissions pointing towards the absence of caste-based data.
Bihar government has already started conducting Caste Census in the state while most of the non-BJP ruled states have been demanding Caste Census along with Census-2021. There is every possibility that the Caste Census would be one of the important issues against the incumbent government in the upcoming Lok Sabha election. Thus BJP doesn’t want to give space to this issue by conducting Census-2021.
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