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HomeNewsWomen Reservation Bill once again puts spotlight on much-delayed census 2021

Women Reservation Bill once again puts spotlight on much-delayed census 2021

New Delhi: Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, 2023, has once again put the spotlight on much-delayed decennial exercise, Census 2021. The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, seeks to provide a 33% reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and assemblies. However, the quota can come into force only by 2029 since it has to be implemented after the delimitation of constituencies that will be conducted only after the next census, which is likely to be held after the 2024 general elections.

The office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) in July informed states and Union Territories that the deadline for freezing administrative boundaries has been extended to January 1, 2024.

“With general elections only a few months away, the exercise is not possible in 2023 as the entire government machinery will be busy preparing and holding elections across states and UTs. A census enumeration can only start a few months after administrative boundaries are established. Also, a house-listing enumeration will take place prior to the census to conduct the National Population Register (NPR) exercise,” said an official who did not wish to be identified.

The nationwide census and NPR update have been delayed for more than three years. Initially, the Covid-19 pandemic was cited as one of the reasons for the postponement of the decennial exercise, but no clear reasons were given by RGI. In fact, the Union budget for census has been slashed from ₹3,676 crore in the last budget to ₹1,564 crore this year.

RGI officials, however, maintain that data centres are being set up at various locations and IAS officers are being appointed as director of census operations and citizen registration at several locations.

“The effort is to hold a digital census in 2024 in which citizens can fill details online using their mobile number and one-time password,” added another official on condition of anonymity. The last decennial survey was held in 2011.According to RGI, regional offices and data centres have been established in Delhi, Lucknow and Bengaluru to host applications and databases. The data centres in Lucknow and Bengaluru will work as disaster recovery centres. “They are being equipped with cybersecurity tools along with physical security. Web applications will be available in 16 languages and mobile apps will be developed for geotagging of boundary points and landmarks.In 2019-20, governments of Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Bihar opposed NPR and adopted resolutions against the Citizenship Amendment Act and NPR. CAA was passed by Parliament in 2019 but has not been implemented till date as the Centre was yet to frame rules on it.

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