Census 2011: Counting a billion+ Indians
India launched on Thursday the enormous task of counting its teeming billion-plus population, with 2.5 million people set to fan out over the entire country to begin work for the 2011 census.
The exercise has formidable challenges — coverage of a vast geographical area, left-wing rebels and separatists, widespread illiteracy, and people with a bewildering diversity of cultures, languages and customs.
Adding to the complexity of counting and classifying the world’s second biggest population will be a simultaneous process of collecting biometric data on every person, to be used in a new National Population Register.
Officials will collect fingerprints and photograph every resident for the first time for the register — a process described by Home Minister P. Chidambaram as “the biggest exercise… since humankind came into existence.”
The twin census and population register processes will stretch over 11 months, consume 11.63 million tonnes of paper and cost 60 billion rupees (1.25 billion dollars).