India will store decennial census data electronically for the first time in 2021


  • The data collected during the 2021 Census will be stored electronically for the first time since the decennial census began in Independent India in 1951.
  • The decision for saving data electronically was notified by the Registrar General of India (RGI) on 19 June.
  • Tampering with any information will be punished under the IT Act this time onwards since it is now being electronically saved.
According to a rule amended by the Registrar General of India (RGI) on 19 June, the data collected during the 2021 Census will be stored electronically for the first time since the decennial census began in Independent India in 1951. The schedules that are in tabular forms with details of citizens, and other connected papers shall be disposed off totally or in part by the Director of Census Operations, after creating an electronic record of the documents.

Even though the survey is beginning to employ technology, the process is not expected to turn completely paperless any time soon. Even the developed countries have not reached that stage yet. For example, the US Census scheduled for 2020 will also involve paper.

The schedules are carried out by enumerators from household to household for the purpose of the survey. Once all the information is collected, the papers are stored at the government’s storehouse in Delhi. The officials earlier had to scan through the pages to obtain and publish relevant statistical information on population, language and occupation.

These amounted to millions of pages and took up a lot of space in the office. The information could not be easily accessed and had chances of being lost if the papers got damaged. The data is used to publish the tables on the Census website and the papers had to be destroyed after 10 years in order to free up space for the next census. However, the information can now be stored forever electronically and will be easily accessible.

The work related to the 2021 Census will begin this year itself, said the home ministry. The Census Commissioner, Sailesh, said that this is a unique chance to measure many new things like how ‘literate’ people are regarding technology that has reached almost every corner of the country in the last 10 years. Since the right to privacy is now a fundamental one, the privacy of the information collected in the Census remains the vital focus. Tampering with any information will be punished under the IT Act this time onwards.
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