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The Registrar-General of India (RGI) is preparing to conduct field trials of the first phase of the Census and the National Population Register (NPR) using a mobile application in all the States and Union Territories.

First phase:

  • The first phase involving house listing and housing census, along with updating the NPR, was scheduled from April 1 last year, but was postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic.
  • It is unlikely that the exercise will be conducted this year as the vaccination drive is still at an early stage.
  • The officials are planning to conduct pre-tests or field trials through the app in one block each of every district, which is expected to cover 50 to 60 households.
  • The app will contain questionnaires on house listing and housing census and the NPR.
  • The dates for conducting the Census exercise have not been finalised yet. But the enumerators will have to be trained in using the app.
  • Many enumerators are young schoolteachers who are expected to use the app instead of the paper schedule [form]. There will be incentives for the electronic form.

Second phase:

  • The second phase of the Census is population enumeration.
  • The RGI, on January 9, 2020, notified the 31 columns for which the enumerators will seek response for the house listing and housing census.
  • The questions include whether the respondent has access to LPG or piped natural gas connection; owns a radio, transistor, television, laptop, computer, telephone, mobile phone or smartphone; and has access to the Internet.
  • The questions for the NPR have not been made public yet, but the pre-test conducted in 2019 included additional questions such as the date and place of birth of father and mother, last place of residence and mother tongue, Aadhaar (optional), voter ID card, mobile phone and driving licence numbers.
  • The Opposition-ruled States have expressed apprehensions over the additional questions.

Electronic database:

  • In 2010 and 2015, the NPR collected details on 14 parameters only. It already has an electronic database of more than 119 crore residents.
  • The app will have the NPR schedule also. Before it is rolled out, the app has to be tested for glitches, and field trials are to be conducted.
  • Recently, Union Minister of State for Home informed the Rajya Sabha that “an app for the collection of data and a Census portal for the management and monitoring of various Census-related activities has been developed”.
  • Instruction manuals for enumerators and other Census functionaries have been prepared.
  • A pre-test of the Census was undertaken from August 12, 2019 to September 30, 2019 in selected areas of all the States and Unions Territories to test the Census questionnaire and methodology.


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