Sunday, September 5, 2010

Census, UID and locked homes

Umi Daniel

According to 2001 census, 309 million persons were migrants based on place of last residence which constitute about 30% of the total population of the country. This figure indicates an increase of around 37% from the census 1991 which was recorded 226 million migrants out of which male and female migrants. Out of the 309 million migrant in 2001, 91 million are males and the rest 218 are females. The large women migration is due to marriage and described as due to work/employment, business, education, moved after birth, moved with family and others.

The 2010 census of India has been rolled out with two clear objectives of counting India’s ever growing population and providing its citizen the much publicized, multipurpose national identity card using the latest biometric identification particulars. The 2010 census data which will be collected through the house to house survey will have a wide range of information pertaining literacy, housing, employment, livelihood and general wellbeing which is very valuable for development planning.

India is the second largest populous country in the world with over 1.18 billion people and the 2010 census along with issuing of National Identity biometrics card will have to reach out to the length and breadth of the nation and its citizens. However, one is forced to ponder on a question whether it will reckon all people and cover all eligible citizens? To further probe on the issues someone need to examine the Census Phase I process which was under taken during April 2010. Recently I had an informal discussion with one of the senior Census official of Orissa and he too cast doubts about its reaching out to a variety of population which include seasonal migrants who generally move out from their habitation and temporarily live in difficult area and unidentified destinations. In India most of the migration is seasonal and it occurs during October to June. And often one encounter the popular mismatch between certain government programmes which doesn’t tune to the migration seasonality. And the Census 2010 which has been planned in two stages; phase-I, during April and the subsequent phase II during February 2011 will certainly ignore a large chunk of people who are completely isolated and excluded from the mainstream social and economic nerve system of the country. Majority of the people who are going to be excluded from the process is the migrant labourers who travel within the state and move across to other states for seasonal work and employment. For instance, when the first phase of the census was carried out in April 2010, large contingent of seasonal migrant were at the worksite and I am sure 90% of the people would have been overlooked and excluded. Further the phase-II Census during February 2011 yet again will commence at a time when the migrant will be at their work place located in a different geographical region. The Census phase II is also going to slot in collection of digitalized biometric identification particulars of the people. To conduct flawless biometric identification process one does expect that all people to remain in the village and physically present to fulfill the obligation needed for UID exercise. In case, certain people are absent during the exercise, I hope the UID has adequate provision to keep the exercise continue till the last person in the village is covered or keep following the migrant to his worksites. I am afraid, both the process is going to be quite complex, time consuming and reasonably expensive. Since drought is looming large, many of the poorest pockets in India is going to experience more migration this year. Expectantly, Mr. Nandan Nilkeni the chief architect of UID is pretty aware and equipped to face these challenges.

Today with a growing economy and creation of uneven economic opportunity in urban areas, both distress and opportunity human mobility from rural to urban area is fast growing. It is the migrants who badly need the unique identification card. I am sure the id-card will help them reestablishing their citizenship rights which have been fast deteriorating due to distress and forced mobility and offer the migrant their legitimate and uninterrupted access to social security, food entitlement, children’s education, health, insurance, voting rights like a roaming mobile phone at all time and all places.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Daniel,

    I agree with your concerns. Have you written this to Nandan Nielekeni?