Amid fears expressed by the Opposition and states such as West Bengal and Kerala over the National Population Register (NPR), the government Thursday notified another pre-Census exercise that will seek new information on household consumption, including the use of cereals.
The exercise — Houselisting Operations of Census 2021 — will also seek data, for the first time, on smartphones, piped gas connections and mobile numbers. However, the notification makes it clear that mobile numbers will be asked only for Census-related communication.
Another key departure from the previous two such exercises is that a question on households availing banking services has been removed.
The notification comes two weeks after the Union Cabinet approved a proposal for conducting the Census 2021 and updating the NPR. The updation move has triggered fears amid protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that the government would also push for nationwide implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The Houselisting exercise and updation of NPR will be done simultaneously between April and September, 2020. The Census will be conducted from February 9-28, 2021.
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Thursday’s notification issued by the Registrar General, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, shows that questions on 31 data points will be asked. During the last Census, questions were asked on 30 points and did not include the question about cereal consumption.
According to a Home Ministry proposal, NPR updation will cover demographic details in 21 points, including ‘date and place of birth of parents’, last place of residence, PAN, Aadhaar on voluntarily basis, Voter ID card number, Driving Licence number and mobile number.
In the last NPR done in 2010, data was collected on 15 points and did not include details such as ‘date and place of birth of parents’, and last place of residence.