India Launches Census 2011, The Biggest-Ever In History

India on Thursday launched “Census 2011,” the biggest-ever census attempted in the history of mankind enumerating the country’s 1.2 billion population and classifying usual residents according to their gender, religion, occupation and education.

Indian commuters move at a busy road in the old city area in New Delhi, India, Thursday, April 1. AP / Saurabh Das

India on Thursday launched “Census 2011,” the biggest-ever census attempted in the history of mankind enumerating the country’s 1.2 billion population and classifying usual residents according to their gender, religion, occupation and education.

As the first citizen of the country, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil was the first person to be listed in the decennial exercise. She appealed to her compatriots to follow her example “for the good of the nation.”

“My appeal to all brothers and sisters of the country is to wholeheartedly take part in the gigantic national tasks of Census and preparation of the first ever National Population Register. It is important for the nation as well as you,” she said after a delegation of the Census officials visited Rashtrapati Bhavan and took down her information.

New born Indian babies receive Blue Ray photo therapy at a hospital in Gauhati, India, Thursday, April 1. India began counting its billion-plus population Thursday, with 2.5 million census-takers fanning out across the country to photograph and fingerprint citizens for a new a database that will be used to issue its first national identity cards. AP / Anupam Nath

The massive exercise, to be spread over next 11 months, will mark a milestone as the first-ever National Population Register (NPR) will also be prepared in which all persons aged over 15 years will be photographed and fingerprinted to create a biometric national database. With this India will probably become the first democratic nation in the world which would have got its population fingerprinted in a year from now.

Indian census worker Kamaleswar Dauka writes a number on a hut on the first day of the national census at Ramsingh Chapori village, east of Gauhati, India, Thursday, April 1. AP / Anupam Nath

Mr. Chandramouli said the first phase, called the House listing and Housing Census, will be conducted between this April and July. The second phase, called the Population Enumeration phase, will be conducted simultaneously all over the country from February 9 to 28, 2011, and the entire exercise would be completed by March 5, 2011. All 640 districts, 5,767 tehsils, 7,742 towns and more than six lakh villages will be covered.

Indian passengers travel in an over-crowded train at New Delhi railway station, New Delhi, India, Thursday, April 1. AP / Kevin Frayer

For the first time, they will note the availability of toilets, drinking water and electricity, and the type of building materials to create a comprehensive picture of housing in India. They will also take fingerprints and photographs of each person and collect information on Internet, mobile phone and bank account usage. The census-takers, mostly local government officials or schoolteachers, also plan to include millions of homeless people who sleep on railway platforms, under bridges and in parks. (16 photos, 4 pages) [via BBC and Hindu; images via SacBee]

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