This article throws light upon the top two methods of conducting a census. The methods are: 1. De Facto Method of Census 2. De Jure Method of Census.
1. De Facto Method of Census:
Under this method, the Census Commission fixes one date for conducting the census throughout the country. It is usually done on a full moon night because it is presumed that all households are present at their residences during that time. This technique was followed both in England and India up to the 1931 census.
This method has the following advantages:
1. It is not time consuming because the entire enumeration work is done within one night.
2. This is real enumeration because the households are actually present in their places of residence.
3. Even persons present at other places within the country are enumerated.
But this method has also certain demerits:
1. One of its main defects is that persons who are travelling during the night in trains, buses and aeroplanes cannot be enumerated.
2. As the time period for enumeration is fixed for only one night, it requires large number of trained enumerators who may not be available, especially in developing countries.
3. As the data are to be collected within a short period of one night, the census work may not be completed and the staff may fill up the gaps of their own based on guess.
4. Nobody likes to be disturbed at night. So the households may not provide accurate information to the enumerators who are unwelcome at add hours.
Thus, such a method is not practicable, that is why it was given up in India and England after 1931.
2. De Jure Method of Census:
Under this method, the enumeration period of two or three weeks is fixed. The enumerators collect information from households by visiting them very often to fill up the various schedules. Persons residing temporarily at a place are not enumerated. Only persons residing permanently at a place are counted in it. This is also called real and direct enumeration method of census.
This method has the following merits:
1. This is called real method because the enumerators are given sufficient time to collect information from the households by making frequent visits to them.
2. It is possible to collect a wide variety of information relating to sex, age, language, education, occupation, etc. For instance, the Schedule of Census of India 2001 had 23 questions with 39 columns for collecting information on social- economic conditions of the population.
3. Such diverse data are used by the Census Commission in arriving at various aspects of population growth such as birth rates, death rates, sex ratios, occupational distribution, literacy rate, etc.
4. These data are further used by administrators for policy formulations regarding health and family planning, poverty alleviation, etc. Acamedicians use them for research work.
This method has also a few disadvantages:
1. Persons who are not residing permanently at a place at the time of enumeration are usually left out.
2. The same problem arises when a person has two houses at two different towns and resides in them for the purpose of business.
3. During the period of census, if the enumerator has filled up the census schedule of a particular household on a specific date and a birth or death takes place there, this will not be accounted for in the census. Similarly , the family itself may migrate to some other town during this period.
Both the census methods have their merits and demerits. It is, therefore, better to use both during the census operations, as has been done in the 2001 Census of India. It was spread from 9th to 28th February, 2001 and was completed on the mid-night of 28th February.
Besides the normal and institutional households, the houseless population that usually resides/sleeps during the night like beggars, lepers, vagrants, hawkers, vendors, migrants from other places in search of jobs, people sleeping in the open on roadside, pavements, railway platforms, bus stations, parks, under staircases or bridges or flyovers, places of worship, in hume pipes, hospitals, etc., was also to be enumerated.