It is unfortunate how some routine things like census become so difficult to conduct in this country. The likely glitches, political in scope, become larger than life and ultimately, it falls on the Supreme Court to order the government to conduct the ten yearly exercise nine years late.
Now that it’s happening, it seems strange why we delayed it for such a long time. Like much else, the dissenting voices are being heard a lot more, like the religious or linguistic omissions, but the importance of census for a country like ours cannot be understated.
The gains of the census will be huge and are likely to impact the policies in a major way.
The reservations mostly are about how the census is being conducted which everyone agrees is not perfect (there have been petitions by political parties claiming the exercise is not transparent enough) but, as Abid Qaiyum Suleri says in his article, it is still “a big step forward to well-informed decision-making”.
Read also: Census, finally
Apart from the overall headcount and households in numbers, the migration patterns especially the rural to urban one will be crucial. The change in absolute population in different provinces will have political consequences, in terms of not just delimitation of seats but in allocation of resources and the ensuing redistribution between and among provinces.
The most significant reduction is expected to be in the percentage population of Punjab which may have political consequences like the reduction in number of assembly seats for Punjab. In our Special Report today, we discuss all the issues related to census 2017.