India getting ready for new national census
Millions of volunteers and public officials will visit cities, towns and villages to chronicle the effects of economic growth on the population. Census results will allow authorities to examine new development policies.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – India is preparing for what is one of the world's biggest ever censuses, a survey by millions of volunteers for a population of more than a billion that could affect government policies and reveal how economic growth has affected the population.

Thousands of officials have started the long-drawn process of mapping cities, towns and villages that is likely to throw up new information on the changing demographic profile of the country. Millions of volunteers and census officials will visit every household around the country in the next few years to gather information on jobs, education and quality of life.

India's population is projected to grow to 1.19 billion in 2011 from 1.13 billion in 2008 and its economic growth rate has been around 8.7 per cent this fiscal year. But the contrary urgently requires more infrastructure and new jobs.

India produces 2.5 million graduates every year, but only about 15 percent are suitable for jobs in technology and outsourcing. And millions more still live in acute poverty.

India's last census in 2001 revealed an increasing demographic divide between poorer states in the north and the economically better-off south.

Experts have said that the imbalances have fanned political tensions, with Hindu hard-line groups in India's financial capital of Mumbai threatening poorer migrant labourers from northern India.

“The census will be a review of trends of the high growth rate economy and it is going to be the report card on how the population has responded to it,” Abheek Barua, chief economist at the HDFC Bank, said.

Unlike China, which has an ageing population, the result of the country's one-child policy, half of India's population according to the 2001 census was younger than 25 years.

For Indian politicians this is a source of wealth and development for the country.