Numbers game

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The decadal headcount has always kicked up controversies in J&K especially since 1981. Census commissioner Farooq Ahmad Faktoo in an interview with Ikhlaq Qadri, says there wouldn’t be any this time around.

Kashmir Life: What new trends have emanated from the headcount that you had in 2011?

Farooq Ahmad: So far as population enumeration 2011 is concerned this was a part of census taking which in fact started with the house listing operation in the month of May 2010. House listing operation was completed after getting two extensions from government of India because of turmoil in the valley. We concluded that in the month of September 2010.

During this period we also covered snow bound areas like Leh, Kargil, Gurez, Karnah, some parts of Doda and Kathua for population enumeration. Population enumeration and house listing was done simultaneously in these snow bound areas. In Plain areas along with other states of India Population enumeration was started in the month of February. The scheduled date was Feb 8 to Feb 28.

The headcount was done during this period. Apart from headcount there were other variables which were covered like literacy, sex ratio, child sex ratio, language, religion. Whatever results we have got (until now) is only about three variables, population, sex ratio and literacy. Other details like religion, rural/urban population, workers/non workers we will come out with that information at a later stage.

Population: As per 2001 census we had a total population of around 10,100,000. That time we had 15.68 lakh households. This time our population is around 12500000. Kashmir province constitutes around 7198115 including Leh and Kargil. Leh and Kargil together constitute around 290000. Jammu population is 5350811.

Sex Ratio: So far as male female sex ratio is concerned, in 2001 it was 892 females for 1000 males and in 2011 it has gone nine points down to 883. Child sex ratio has drastically come down. In 2001 it was 941 and 2011 it is 859. For every thousand male children in the age group of 0 to 6 we have only 859 females.

Literacy: Literacy has improved from 55.5 percent during 2001, it has now gone to 59.

KL: While your census shows J&K has a faster growth rate in population but it is still lower than J&K had in 2001. What does that mean?
FF: This is the trend throughout India. Earlier growth rate was around 29 per cent. Now if you see trend throughout India it has come down in all states. Our state is still better we have 23.70 per cent decadal growth rate. It is because of people resorting to many family planning methods. It has been seen when you have better literacy rate in the area there is less growth in population. A sort of survey which was conducted has come out with the observation that areas having better literacy rate has less growth rate.

KL: Census has remained a controversy in J&K especially Kashmir since 1981. Given the past record, do you think this census will offer anything that could trigger a controversy?

FA: Earlier there were some misunderstandings which now have been removed. This time around, you will be happy to know, there was lot of cooperation from people. Our leadership here, whether it was mainstream or separatist, insisted that everybody should take part in the census. We tried our level best to convey to the common masses the benefits of census. The people were cooperative and you must have seen after we published the results everybody was appreciating it. Everyone appreciated our efforts. I don’t think in future or at any point of time there will be controversy.

KL: You are counting all and sundry that you trace in a particular geographic unit at the time of census. That means even the security forces are counted. In that case how can we be able to get the exact number of people living in the state?
FF: Under the census act we undertake this exercise. And so far as census exact is concerned we have to count every one whosoever is within the territorial jurisdiction of that particular state during the reference period that is 8th of February to 28th of February. During that period whosoever is present is to be counted. If somebody is out of the state and he is likely to return during that period he also is to be counted. Similarly if someone from J&K has gone to any other part of India he will be counted there.
So far as Security forces are concerned they are also to be counted along with the population of the state. We cannot say how many security people are there. We will be coming out with religion wise details. There is no method to find out how many security forces are there. District wise population we can have but we cannot segregate security forces and civilians.

KL: Have you any idea about the fertility rate of people belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes or Kashmiri Pandits and Bakerwals?
FF: We don’t have separate data for ST, SC so far as fertility rate is concerned. We don’t do that exercise. It will be total kind of percentage that will be coming out. When we say this is sex ratio, this includes everybody. We can’t have for castes, religion or groups of people separately.

KL: There were massive migrations from the border areas. How is census reflecting that trend?
FF: I told you everybody is counted where ever he is. If a person has migrated from some area to city or town, he will be counted in that town. That means those people will be less at the original place of residence, they will not be counted there but will be counted where they are presently living.

KL: Leh district is exhibiting a sex ratio that means there is only one female for two males. What does it mean for a society that has officially divorced polyandry?
FF: I don’t have any comments on what can be the reason. In fact child sex ratio is not that bad in Leh. My personal view is that there is large presence of security forces so it must had have effect on that. Also lot many students from Leh are outside for studies that can be another contributing factor. This is my personal view.

KL: what are the special projects that the census organisation carries out after the headcount is over?
FA: With house listing operation we conducted NPR (National Population Register). The data will enable us to issue national resident cards. Personal details of each individual were collected at that particular point of time which will be used for preparing national identity cards. Second phase will be to take photographs and then finger biometric. This project we may be taking after some time, consulting state government for feasible dates to conduct this exercise. Now we will be coming out with various publications detailing the various features of our findings during the census. Those publications will be provided to public and the data and statists can be used by planners, officers, scholars industrialists. Everyone can use that data for their advantage.

Similarly government is contemplating to conduct caste census. That is another thing which is supposed to be done during June to September. Government of India has already approved that probably we will be starting that exercise somewhere in the month of June. We are waiting for instructions from Government of India what is to be done in that caste census.

KL: How many people you require to conduct the census and how much does it cost?

FF: So far as manpower is concerned we get almost all manpower which has to do job in the field, from the state government. During the current census we had employed around 28000 people as enumerators, supervisors, charge officers, census officers.

Cost is reimbursed by Government of India. People who are deployed for this job are paid honorarium for conducting this exercise. Similarly for training period they are paid training allowance and TA, DA. And some contingency funds are being placed for disposal with the deputy commissioners and Tehsildars who are charge officers and principal census officers. Approximately it can be anything around 30 to 40 crore rupees which goes into payment of honorarium, TA, DA, etc. Apart from that other expenditure like transportation , stationary and other things it will be around another 4 to 5 crore.

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