The Lok Sabha has passed the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam (Constitution One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, which proposes a 33% reservation for women in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. Home Minister Shah mentioned during the debate that census and delimitation activities will commence after the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
GS I: Population and Related issues
Dimensions of the Article:
- About the Census
- Delimitation: Fixing Electoral Boundaries
- Delimitation Commission:
About the Census
- The census provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
- The first synchronous census in India was held in 1881, and since then, censuses have been undertaken uninterruptedly once every ten years.
- India’s last census was carried out in 2011 when the country’s population stood at 121 crores.
- The Census 2021 will be conducted in 18 languages out of the 22 scheduled languages (under 8th schedule) and English, and the option of “Other” under the gender category will be changed to “Third Gender”.
- For the first time data is proposed to be collected through a mobile app by enumerators and they will receive an additional payment as an incentive.
- The last caste-based census was conducted by the British in 1931.
- Arthashastra by ‘Kautilya’ written in the 3rd Century BC prescribed the collection of population statistics as a measure of state policy for taxation.
- In India, a census is conducted every decade and Census 2021 will be the 16th national census of the country.
Key facts about India’s census
- In India, the census was first started under British Viceroy Lord Mayo in 1872 and the first synchronous census in India was held in 1881.
- It is being conducted at an interval of 10 years.
- The decennial Census is conducted by the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Census is conducted under the provisions of the Census Act, of 1948.
- The population census is a Union subject under Article 246 of the Indian Constitution.
- It is listed as serial number 69 of the seventh schedule of the constitution.
Significance of census:
- Foundation of Statistical Analyses: A census generates primary and authentic data that forms the foundation for various statistical analyses. This data is crucial for planning, decision-making, and development initiatives across sectors like administration, economy, and social welfare.
- Planning and Development: Census data provides essential information for planning and development initiatives in various sectors. It helps policymakers, government agencies, and organizations to understand demographic patterns, population trends, and distribution of resources, enabling them to formulate effective strategies and allocate resources efficiently.
- Constituency Delimitation and Representation: Census data plays a vital role in demarcating constituencies and determining representation in government bodies. It helps in deciding the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in Parliament, State legislatures, local bodies, and government services. This ensures proportional representation and promotes inclusivity in the political and administrative systems.
- Business and Industry Planning: Census data is valuable for business houses and industries as it helps them strengthen and plan their operations, especially for expanding into areas that were previously underserved. The data provides insights into population characteristics, consumer demographics, and market potential, facilitating business decisions and market penetration strategies.
- Grants and Resource Allocation: The Finance Commission utilizes population figures from census data to provide grants to states. The allocation of resources, funding, and development assistance is often based on the population data available from the census.
Delimitation: Fixing Electoral Boundaries
- Delimitation is the process of establishing the boundaries of territorial constituencies in a region with a legislative body.
- In the Indian Context
- In India, delimitation involves the redrawing of boundaries for Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly Constituencies.
- This process may result in a change in the number of seats allocated to a state or union territory.
- Delimitation aims to ensure that the population of constituencies remains as equal as possible based on the most recent Census data.
- It strives for a fair division of geographical areas, ensuring a level playing field for political parties and candidates in terms of the number of voters.
- Article 82 and Article 170 of the Indian Constitution empower the Parliament to readjust seat allocations in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies, respectively, after each Census.
- Delimitation Commission Acts have been enacted by Parliament in 1952, 1962, 1972, and 2002 to facilitate this process.
- Delimitation has occurred only four times despite seven Census operations.
- The most recent delimitation, based on the 2001 census, was carried out under the Delimitation Commission Act, 2002.
- The next Delimitation Commission will be established after 2026.
- Article 330 and Article 332 allow for the re-fixing of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies based on the 2001 census.
Last Delimitation Exercise (2002)
- The 2002 delimitation focused on redrawing constituency boundaries but did not increase the number of constituencies.
- The number of Lok Sabha constituencies has remained unchanged since 1976.
- Delimitation can lead to political disputes, particularly over the distribution of seats among states based on population ratios.
- This has contributed to controversies, with some states concerned about losing seats while others gain.
- The 42nd Amendment in 1976 suspended seat boundary redrawing until 2001, and this suspension was extended until 2026 through the 84th Amendment Act of 2002.
- The year 2026 was chosen to align with the National Population Policy’s goal of achieving a roughly equal number of births and deaths in India.
- The Delimitation Commission is a high-powered committee responsible for delineating and redefining the boundaries of various constituencies for state assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
- It is appointed by the President of India and collaborates with the Election Commission.
- The Commission typically comprises:
- A retired or sitting Supreme Court Judge who serves as the chairperson.
- An Election Commissioner.
- The State Election Commissioners of the relevant states.
- The decisions and orders of the Delimitation Commission hold the status of law and cannot be challenged in any court of law.
- Although the Commission’s orders are presented before the Lok Sabha and the concerned legislative assemblies, these bodies cannot make alterations to the Commission’s decisions.
-Source: Indian Express