The Union government with reference to the digital India initiative has decided to take census digitally this year rather than pen-paper based. The country’s 16th census will be collected digitally for the first time ever with the provision of self-enumeration as stated by the Union Ministry.   

"The forthcoming Census will be the first digital Census and there is a provision for self-enumeration. Mobile App for collection of data and a Census Portal for management and monitoring of various Census related activities have been developed," the Ministry of Home said in the Lok Sabha.

So let’s cover all the bases regarding the digital census:

What is a digital census?

Till now, the process involved visiting every household and filling up forms. This year, workers going door-to-door will have tablets or smartphones that will let them enter information digitally. The data collected by school teachers (workers) who will double up as enumerators during the Census exercise.

For this (digital census), there is a provision for self-enumeration, a mobile app for the collection of data and a census portal for management and monitoring of various Census related activities.

Using a digital device for data collection not only speeds up the process but also analysis becomes more efficient and swift.

How digital census will be done?

If you want to opt for self-enumeration which means the census survey questionnaire will be completed by the respondent themselves then, once the census portal is made, the individual could log in using their mobile numbers and proceed to fill up the details.

In the Census portal, individuals will be required to fill in the form for population enumeration.

Codes will be displayed on the screen to fill in the various options

Once self-enumeration is done, an identification number will be sent on individual mobile phones.

When the enumerator goes for the house listing exercise, the ID number can be shared, which will automatically sync all the data already filled online.

The forthcoming digital census was introduced during the budget this year by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who presented the first paperless Union Budget 2021-22. 

"For this monumental milestone marking task, I have allocated ₹ ₹3,768 crore for Financial Year 2021," Nirmala Sitharaman had said.

Worldwide, only a limited number of countries have done away with paper record for the census. Switzerland and Vietnam are among the two, who with India have taken this digital leap.