This precious commodity on aspects population is provided by CENSUS. In Independent India Census operations were first conducted in 1951 when Sardar Patel was the Home Minister, and are held every ten years since then. Census is for social good and it is relevant to all areas of Social Sciences, and even to Sciences and Laws. These opinions were expressed by Dr. Abhishek Jain, IAS, Director, Census Operations, Punjab and Chandigarh, the title of whose lecture was “Census and its Multi-disciplinary Applications in this Data Age”. He was speaking at a webinar organized by the Society for Promotion of Science and Technology in India (SPSTI). This was the sixteenth lecture of the Web-series: Institution Building and Nurturing Initiatives in Independent India.

Big Data being the forte of Census of India, it is also the biggest producer of maps (showing geographical distribution of all kinds – availability of water, schools and colleges, electricity, mobile phones etc. etc.). The data is collected from every household of every village of the country, with the help of ‘enumerators’. The biggest change we are going to see in the 2021 census  (which will be held only in 2022 due the Covid disruption) is that it is going to be largely DIGITAL. The data entry may be in mixed mode but thereafter, the analysis, mapping, management and monitoring will be done digitaliy, reducing much paper-work and time between data and its publication. To cover our 1.35 billion population spread over 6.4 lac villages, in a door to door survey, 3 lakh enumerators and 12 thousand crores of rupees will be required! Digalisation of Census would include 4 indigenous mobile  apps in 16 Indian languages.

Census data, Big Data in the true sense, form the backbone of many public policies. To make the census transparent, a kiosk has been set up for the public at the Census office in Sector 17 Chandigarh. A large amount of data is also available online. The upcoming census, being digital, would not only be able to release data much quicker, but also in a user-friendly manner to those who ask for a specific format.

Prof. Gaurav Kalotra, Chairperson, department of Geography, Panjab University was Guest of Honour on the occasion, introduced by Prof. Simrit Kahlon of the same Department. The lecture was organised in association with Chandigarh Chapter of the NASI and Chandigarh chapters of INSA & INYAS and Punjab Engineering College (PEC) (Deemed to be University), Chandigarh and with support from the Department of Science & Technology, Haryana. It was streamed live at 11.00 am on June 18, 2022 through Zoom and Facebook.

Also present on the occasion were Shri Dharam Vir, President, SPSTI; Prof. Arun K. Grover, former Vice Chancellor of Panjab University and Vice President SPSTI; Keya Dharamvir, General Secretary, SPSTI; and many other eminent scientists. The session was much appreciated by the audience and followed with lively questions and discussion.