- What a census is, and what information it collects.
- The usefulness of the census to the government.
- How a census is taken.
- Objections made by some to the census.
A census is an official numbering of the inhabitants of a country at a certain time, made by government order. In England a census is made every ten years. The main object of a census is to give the government of a country accurate information as to the number of the inhabitants. But at the same time much additional information is collected, so the government may know the number of men, women and children, their ages, occupations and nationality, the number of those married, and of the deaf, the blind, the dumb, and the imbecile. In some countries, too, the number of the adherents of each form of religion is ascertained.
The census is obviously very useful, for it provides the government with a mass of information, which is of great use, not only for the purposes of taxation, but also for legislation on social questions. As it is carried out every ten years, the authorities can watch the increase or decrease of the population, and the growth of large town centers or the gradual depopulation of rural areas.
The taking of the census requires an elaborate organization and an army of workers. For, first, question-papers are prepared, and these are distributed to all householders in every town and village in the country. Each householder is bound by law to fill in all the particulars required about his family, truthfully and accurately. Then, on a certain fixed day, all these papers are collected by special officers, who have to see that they are correctly filled up. The collation and analysis of the facts and figures thus collected will then take the Census Department months of hard work.
There are really no reasonable objections to the census. But when it was first introduced into India, ignorant and superstitious people were very suspicious of it; and all sorts of wild and absurd talks got about as to the government’s object in wanting all this information. Nowadays, however, those objections have died down. Some people, however, still object to the census, saying it asks a lot of inquisitive questions about their private affairs. Sensible people, however, realize that the information a census gives is really necessary to the governing powers, and answer the questions put willingly and truthfully.