Over 25 lakh officials will knock at the doors of each citizen in the country soon as they undertake the biggest census ever in history, covering India's 1.2 billion population that began today with president Pratibha Patil being the first to be counted.
"My name is Pratibha Devisingh Patil and my permanent address is Amravati, Maharashtra," Patil said when asked by Promila Mishra, a teacher with NDMC school, Gole Market here before signing off the Census which would cover all 640 districts, 5,767 tehsils, 7,742 towns and more than 6 lakh villages in the country.
The 15th National Census exercise, which was first conducted in 1872, will capture the socio-economic-cultural profile of its citizens besides seeking information for the creation of the National Population Register.
During the mammoth exercise, the enumerators, most of whom would be teachers and local officials besides retired employees, will for the first time collect information like ownership of mobile phones, computers, internet, availability of treated drinking water facilities and electricity among others.
"My appeal to all brothers and sisters of the country is to wholeheartedly take part in the preparation of the first ever National Population Register. It is important for the nation as well as you," Patil said after a delegation of the Census officials took down her information.
The delegation headed by Union home minister P Chidambaram included registrar general and census commissioner C Chandramouli and deputy director general, rational
population register, S K Chakrabarti besides Union home
secretary G K Pillai.
Chidambaram said it is the first time in history that 1.2 billion people will be provided I-cards after being identified, counted and enumerated.
"This exercise must succeed and will succeed. We will leave no stone unturned to visit every village, every habitation in the country," he said appealing to the civil society, teachers, parents and authorities to take part in this exercise.
The Census operation would cost around Rs 2,209 crore while the approved cost for creation of NPR is Rs 3,539.24 crore.
For the NPR, the enumerators will also seek additional information on a separate sheet.
"We will fill a separate form and give each covered under the census a receipt which will have a number. Once, all the information is digitalised, we will hold designated camps
across the country where anyone above 15 years will give their
all 10 fingerprints and photograph by showing their receipt,"
He said the fingerprints would be then passed on to the Unique Identification Authority of India, which after checking for re-duplication will assign a 16-digit unique number to each, which will then be part of the NPR card to be issued.
Asked by when the first NPR card would roll out, he said it would be done by 2011 end.
The fingerprints and photographs will help the government formulate plans and strengthen the country's security.
The NPR will bring the entire population of the country under one database.
Explaining the census procedures, Chandramouli said it would be conducted in two phases. The first phase, called the House listing and Housing Census, will be conducted between April and July, depending on the convenience of different states and UTs.
This exercise is to be conducted over a period of 45 days in each state or UT, he said.
The second phase, called the Population Enumeration phase, will be conducted simultaneously all over the country from February 9 to 28, 2011, and the entire exercise would be completed by March 5, 2011.