The decennial census of India has been conducted 15 times, as of 2011. While it has been undertaken every 10 years, beginning in 1872 under Viceroy Lord Mayo, the first complete census was taken in 1881.[1] Post 1949, it has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. All the censuses since 1951 were conducted under the 1948 Census of India Act, which predates the Constitution of India.[2] The 1948 Census of India Act does not bind the Union Government to conduct the census on a particular date or to release its data in a notified period. The last census was held in 2011, whilst the next was to be held in 2021 before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in India.[3] The next census will be held after the 2024 general election.[4]

Mauryan Empire

Further information: Maurya Empire

Historically, there has been a long time between collection of data and dissemination of data.[5] The taking of census was a regular process in the Mauryan administration. The village officials (Gramika) and municipal officials (Nagarika) were responsible for enumerating different classes of people in the Mauryan empire such as traders, agriculturists, smiths, potters, carpenters etc., and also cattle, mostly for taxation purposes.[6] These vocations consolidated as castes, a feature of Indian society that continues to influence the Indian politics till today.

British Rule

Cover of Volume 17 of the 1911 census report (fully digitized file)
Census in British India refers to the census of India prior to independence which was conducted periodically from 1865 to 1941. The censuses were primarily concerned with administration and faced numerous problems in their design and conduct ranging from the absence of house numbering in hamlets to cultural objections on various grounds to dangers posed by wild animals to census personnel. The sociologist Michael Mann called the census exercise "more telling of the administrative needs of the British than of the social reality for the people of British India".[7] The differences in the nature of Indian society during the British Raj from the value system and the societies of the West were highlighted by the inclusion of "caste", "religion", "profession" and "age" in the data to be collected, as the collection and analysis of that information had a considerable impact on the structure and politics of Indian society.

Republic of India

List of censuses conducted in India after independence:

See also


  1. ^ Sugden, Joanna; Seervai, Shanoor (9 January 2015). "Where Are India's 2011 Census Figures on Religion?". Wall Street Journal.
  2. ^ "The delay in the decennial Census". The Hindu. 9 January 2023.
  3. ^ "Explained:The delay in the decennial census". The Hindu. January 9, 2023.
  4. ^ Singh, Vijaita (2023-07-01). "With new date to fix boundaries, Census unlikely before 2024 Lok Sabha polls". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2023-08-31.
  5. ^ Goswami, P. R. (1989-09-01). "The Census of India: A discussion of issues of data collection and dissemination". Government Publications Review. 16 (5): 429–438. doi:10.1016/0277-9390(89)90072-1. ISSN 0277-9390.
  6. ^ "The politics behind the caste census in Bihar". The Times of India.
  7. ^ Mann (2015), p. 169

Works cited