TODAY -

Delimitation and development: The crucial role of Census operation

Mohendro Nandeibam *



Society is dynamic. The changes in population, occupation, transaction of business and lifestyle of the people continue to create manifold transformations in different walks of the society.

Now we have to think of DPSIR:
(D= Driving forces, P=Pressures, S=State of affairs, I= Impacts and R= Institutional Responses).

The demographic change is the overriding reality with subsequent impacts on other segments of the economy. The issue of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies could be part of the larger exercise on DPSIR.

As such, re-adjustment/re-arrangement of areas in the constituencies has to be made to accommodate possibly all the changes to ensure DISTRIBUTIVE JUSTICE which is paramount goal of any government. As far as practicable, attempt should be made to address imbalances and distortions in the development process based on Census Report.

The constitutional obligation of house-to-house survey is carried out by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under the Ministry of Home Affairs for every 10 years. The census report is expected to capture the hard facts of changes on the ground.

It is essentially academic exercise and thus accepted as valid document of high order. Here comes the importance of primary enumerators who are normally primary and upper primary teachers in the locality.

Their commitment to honesty and sincerity, is, therefore, key. Proper atmosphere free from duress where they can do justice to their assignment is sine-qua-non of the programme. The roles of both Census Department and Education Department are decidedly crucial.

The Census of India, 2001 was historic and epoch making, being the first census of the 21st Century and the 3rd millennium. The benchmark data on available human resources, demography, culture and economic structure speak of the centennial and millennial transition of the country.

The Census 2011, 15th of its kind since 1872, went further ahead. It was conducted in two phases: House Listing and Housing Census (April-September, 2010) and Population Enumeration (February 9-28, 2011) with Revisional Round (1st - 5th March 2011).

The awareness of the people in the state about the significance of the exercise remains low. While the literacy rate is high, the academic citizenship is significantly low. Social maturity remains a rare phenomenon.

Half-hearted and lukewarm response and reaction of the people during the survey becomes, in due course, counter-productive and a source of concern. We are not fully aware of the fact that “timing” is extremely important in life.

We fail to make hey while the sun shines. How many of us are serious about the strong bearing of census upon the subsequent initiatives for development? We cannot escape tomorrow by avoiding today. This is what we are experiencing today in the state.

While undertaking such exercise, two important considerations have to be kept in view: I) General Electoral Convenience and II) Convenience of Development Administration. They are interlinked. The false notion that delimitation is meant for political purpose only has now been taken over and replaced by broader imperatives of economic development.

Only population is not enough. What about density of population, per capita income, incidence of poverty, professional discipline for resource management etc. Remember, economics comes into the centre stage of politics.

Now-a-days the issue of underdevelopment is being tackled through a combined strategy of Area Development Approach, Product Development Approach and Skill Development Approach. Mere high number of constituencies may not necessarily ensure higher momentum of development. Those days of Quantity have been taken over by the new era of Quality (human capital).

Japan is a telling example. They follow 2 (two) mantras: (a) Total Quality Circle (TQC) and (b) Waste to Wealth. To them, time is greatest resource.

Look at Manipur where one finds vast array of waste lands. Every portion of waste lands and forests can now be made “gold-mine”, if we can command technical know-how of modern era. This could certainly be much better route to development,– not number of assembly and parliamentary constituencies. In the absence of both passion and potential for development, one should not think of faster rate of growth.

The past development experiences in the state speak of semi-stagnant economy with 40% of rural population without a decent living who cannot spend Rs. 32 per head per day. They remain caught in the clutch of poverty and multiple deprivations. Economic insecurity is dominating part of their life. The visible lack of meaningful micro-level solution at grass-root level is, it seems one of the culprits.

Correct micro-level data, not manipulated, could certainly be a hopeful beginning of a brighter future. This is the reason why the National Institute of Transforming India (NITI Aayog), rightly and forcefully insists upon “Bottom-up-approach”, beginning from the lowest strata, unlike “Top-down approach” of the erstwhile Planning Commission.

Can we think of setting up Census Centre (CC) for continuous Mentoring and Monitoring (MM) at suitable locations? Let the enumerators and other staff feel encouraged and proud of being part of larger and esteemed Department of Census Operation under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Special monetary incentive may give a new spirit to work in difficult areas. Constant contact and communication through the Census Centres in proper atmosphere may significantly improve the overall performance.


* Mohendro Nandeibam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer, was Professor of Economics, Manipur University, and is currently associated as Expert Member of NEDFI on a project of 8 states in NE Region.
This article was webcasted on July 05 2020 .



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