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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 24 June 2024

  1. Time for a Census, Come What May
  2. G7 Summit and the Global South


The 2021 Census has been now delayed for too long. One plausible explanation is that the ruling party is postponing the Census to expedite the “delimitation” process in anticipation of the 2029 Lok Sabha elections. This might sound unlikely, but reconsidering reveals the 84th amendment of the Constitution mandates that the next delimitation exercise is to be based on the first census after 2026.


  • GS1- Population and Associated Issues
  • GS2- Government Policies & Interventions

Mains Question:

What are the possible implications of the delay in decennial census in India? How does a delay in census impact the 106th amendment of the Constitution relating to the women’s reservation? (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Where do Other Countries Stand in Terms of Conducting the Census?

  • The government has repeatedly claimed, including in Parliament, that Census 2021 had to be postponed due to the pandemic.
  • However, India is among a select few countries that have not conducted their latest Census — only 44 out of 233 nations.
  • Among the 189 countries (81%) that managed to conduct their latest Census, 143 did so after March 2020, when COVID-19 began causing widespread disruption.
  • India shares the dubious distinction of not conducting its Census with conflict-ridden countries like Ukraine (invaded by Russia), Yemen, Syria, and Myanmar (affected by civil wars), Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, economically troubled Sri Lanka, and several sub-Saharan African countries undergoing turmoil.
  • Chart 1 shows the year in which the Census was last conducted in 233 countries. Among the ten most populous countries, only India and Nigeria have yet to conduct a Census. China, the U.S., and Indonesia conducted their latest Census in 2020.
  • Pakistan, ranked fifth, conducted its Census in March 2023. Among BRICS nations (originally defined), India is the only country that has not conducted its Census, while Brazil (August 2022), China (November 2020), South Africa (February 2022), and Russia (October 2021) have done so during or after the pandemic.
  • Among neighbors, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan, and Bangladesh have all conducted Censuses.

Analysing the Politics of Delay in Census:

  • If the next census occurs in 2024 or 2025, delimitation would have to wait until after the subsequent census, which would be in the 2030s.
  • Therefore, if the ruling party aims for delimitation before the 2029 elections, it must delay the census until 2026 or even 2027, since a 2026 census might not be considered “after 2026.”
  • Delimitation aims to ensure that the proportion of Lok Sabha seats among different states aligns with their population shares and that all constituencies have similar population sizes, as required under Article 81 of the Constitution.
  • The upcoming delimitation is expected to favor states with higher population growth since 1973, when the last interstate delimitation, based on the 1971 Census, was conducted.
  • This shift would likely increase the seat shares of northern states at the expense of southern states, potentially causing unrest among the southern states.
  • However, if the ruling party succeeds in this strategy, its electoral prospects may improve, as it has a stronger base in the north compared to the south.
  • The Opposition could counter this plan by demanding the timely completion of the Census before 2026.
  • There is a strong argument for this, as Census data are crucial for various purposes, including the implementation of welfare schemes.
  • For example, updating Census figures would increase the number of people eligible for subsidized food rations by over 100 million under the National Food Security Act.
  • Delaying the Census deprives many individuals of essential entitlements. By advocating for an early Census and postponed delimitation, the Opposition could achieve two goals at once.
  • Additionally, this issue could be brought before the Supreme Court. While setting the Census date is the Central government’s prerogative, delaying the 2021 Census by more than five years could be seen as an abuse of power and a violation of people’s fundamental rights.

Women’s Reservation Bill and Delay in Census:

  • However, there is a potential complication. This relates to women’s reservation. The 106th amendment of the Constitution, passed last September, mandates one-third reservation of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
  • Section 5 stipulates that this will take effect “after an exercise of delimitation is undertaken for this purpose after the relevant figures for the first census taken after [2023] have been published” (emphasis added).
  • This has generally been interpreted to mean that women’s reservation would begin after the broader delimitation exercise required by the 84th amendment. In this view, an early Census would delay women’s reservation by delaying delimitation.
  • However, the phrase “for this purpose” in Section 5 could also be interpreted to mean that women’s reservation could proceed based on its own delimitation exercise (simply designating certain constituencies as “women only”) ahead of the broader delimitation exercise.
  • Therefore, nothing prevents the Opposition from advocating for (1) an early Census, (2) women’s reservation starting from then under the 106th amendment, and (3) the broader delimitation exercise happening later, in the 2030s, under the 84th amendment.
  • Before June 4, 2024, it seemed like the ruling had much to gain because of its overwhelming support in the northern states and minimal support in the south.
  • However, this situation has changed, as the ruling party has lost ground in the north but gained some in the south. Despite this, the ruling party still has a significant interest in delimitation.

Impact of the Delay in Conducting the Census:

Targeting the Right Beneficiaries:

  • Using outdated Census information, such as the 2011 Census, often leads to unreliable data, impacting the distribution of welfare benefits.
  • As per the 2011 Census, India’s population was approximately 121 crore, and beneficiaries under the Public Distribution System (PDS) were around 80 crore.
  • However, estimates by the World Bank suggest India’s population has grown to about 141 crore, implying that PDS coverage should ideally have increased to around 97 crore people.
  • The Finance Commission also utilizes Census data to allocate funds to states, highlighting the importance of accurate population data for equitable distribution.

Challenges for Research and Analysis:

  • Researchers and policymakers face challenges when relying on outdated Census data or seeking alternative sources that may not offer the same precision or detail.
  • Census data serve as crucial reference points for various national surveys, such as the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), which continues to use 2011 Census figures.

Impacts on Political Representation:

  • Census data also plays a pivotal role in delineating constituencies and allocating seats in Parliament and State Assemblies.
  • Delays in conducting the Census mean that outdated 2011 data continues to be used, failing to reflect significant population shifts over the past decade.
  • This affects the accurate allocation of seats and the determination of reservations for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and women, potentially leading to disparities in political representation.

Compromises in Migration Data:

  • Accurate Census data is vital for understanding migration patterns and their socio-economic implications.
  • Delays in Census updates mean that policymakers lack current information on internal and international migration, hindering effective policy-making and crisis management, as seen during the Covid-19 pandemic when migrant laborers faced challenges due to inadequate data on their locations and needs.

Missed Opportunities and Delayed Decision-Making:

  • Timely Census data is critical for identifying emerging trends, assessing needs, and capitalizing on opportunities for targeted interventions, economic planning, and business strategies.
  • Delayed Census updates result in missed opportunities for informed decision-making across various sectors.
  • By updating Census data promptly and ensuring its accuracy, governments can enhance the effectiveness of welfare schemes, political representation, migration policies, and overall socio-economic planning.

Welfare Schemes and the Delay in Census:

  • Table 2 lists a selection of surveys that rely on Census data to determine their samples and some schemes that require updated population figures to determine the number of beneficiaries.
  • For example, the consumption survey 2022-23, which collects data on the consumption of goods and services to understand expenditure patterns and the standard of living, used the 2011 Census for sampling.
  • The National Family Health Survey 2019-21, which identifies districts where health services are inadequate, also depended on the 2011 figures.
  • Schemes like the National Food Security Act, which identifies beneficiaries entitled to receive subsidized food grains, are still being implemented using 2011 figures.
  • Economists Jean Drèze, Reetika Khera, and Meghana Mungikar estimate that at least 100 million people have been excluded from the scheme as coverage is still based on the 2011 Census.
  • Even relatively smaller schemes like the Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS), which aims to provide quality education for ST children, will miss out on many areas.
  • In 2022, every block with more than 50% of the ST population was targeted to have an EMRS school.
  • As this calculation was based on 2011 data, many blocks that fit the criteria in 2022 may have been missed.
  • Similarly, blocks that fit the criteria earlier but did not in 2022 will get an EMRS school which they may not need now.


Ultimately, postponing the Census is difficult to justify. Besides obstructing women’s reservation, it deprives millions of people of essential entitlements. These individuals should not be held hostage to any party’s electoral strategies.


The recent G7 summit in picturesque Apulia, Italy, addressed significant shifts in global geopolitics and the evolving relationships among the world’s major powers. Amidst the attention-grabbing moments captured in photos—such as greetings, and dramatic arrivals—the summit injected vitality into what might otherwise be perceived as routine meetings and dinners among world leaders discussing shared interests.


GS2- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Mains Question:

Highlighting the major points of discussion in the recent G7 summit in Italy, discuss the significance of India for G7 and vice-versa. (10 Marks, 150 Words).

About the G7:

  • The G7 is a consortium comprising the world’s most developed and advanced economies: France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, and Canada.
  • It convenes annually, rotating its host among member nations, and includes leaders from significant international organizations like the European Union, IMF, World Bank, and United Nations.
  • Originating from the 1973 Oil Crisis and ensuing financial turmoil, the G7 emerged when leaders of six major industrial nations—US, UK, France, West Germany, Japan, and Italy—gathered in 1975.
  • Canada joined in 1976, formalizing the group as the G7. Originally expanded to the G8 with Russia’s inclusion in 1997, it reverted to G7 in 2014 following Russia’s expulsion due to its annexation of Crimea.
  • Operating as an informal grouping without formal treaties or a permanent bureaucracy, the G7 rotates leadership among its members and makes decisions through consensus.
  • Despite lacking legislative power, its influence derives from the economic and political weight of its members, impacting global issues through coordinated actions.
  • The G7 serves several purposes: facilitating open dialogue among members to understand diverse perspectives, fostering collective political responses to global challenges like trade, security, and climate change, and setting international agendas through discussions and policy pronouncements.
  • Significantly, the G7 collectively controls 60% of global net wealth, drives 46% of global GDP, and represents 10% of the world’s population, underscoring its substantial economic and geopolitical influence.

Discussions in the Summit:

  • Central to the summit’s discussions, underscored in the joint statement, was a strong focus on Ukraine and a clear message directed at China and other parties perceived to be covertly supporting Russia.
  • The statement explicitly mentioned taking actions against entities in China and other third countries that materially assist Russia’s military capabilities, particularly those involved in acquiring defense-related items.
  • Such actions, aligned with respective legal frameworks, aim to prevent support that undermines Ukraine’s territorial integrity and independence.
  • This served as a direct warning to China against potentially risky alliances that could have repercussions.
  • It’s notable that the United States has already implemented several export controls to prevent the transfer of dual-use technologies to China, which could be utilized for both precision weaponry and cyber surveillance.
  • Despite its significant economic stature, China’s absence from the G7 summit highlighted the cautious approach among leading democratic nations towards Beijing’s geopolitical strategies, especially in the context of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping embarked on a tour of several European countries aimed at resolving tariff disputes imposed by certain European nations on Chinese electric vehicles.
  • While some European countries align closely with the US-led approach of taking firm measures against China, others appear more inclined towards fostering stronger ties with China.
  • Meanwhile, at the G7 summit, there was a nuanced acknowledgement of Indian Prime Minister’s advocacy for greater inclusion of Global South countries in global affairs.
  • The summit emphasized the significance of African nations and pledged various initiatives to enhance economic prosperity in the region.
  • The joint statement endorsed African countries’ aspirations for increased representation in international bodies, welcomed the African Union’s permanent membership in the G20, and supported the creation of a third chair for sub-Saharan Africa on the IMF Executive Board in November.
  • Additionally, the G7 reaffirmed support for the G20 Compact with Africa as a tool to stimulate private sector investments, promote structural reforms, support local entrepreneurship, and enhance energy sector cooperation.

India@ G7:

  • India attended the summit in Apulia as a special invitee, underscored the importance of Global South countries in global dynamics.
  • The Indian Prime Minister highlighted India’s efforts to prioritize the concerns of Global South countries, particularly Africa, on the international stage.
  • He emphasized India’s contributions to the economic development, stability, and security of African nations, noting India’s role in making the African Union a permanent member of the G20 during its chairmanship.


The G7 meeting in Italy conveyed a message of a shifting global order where multiple voices from diverse regions assert themselves on global issues, particularly as established political structures face challenges domestically.

July 2024