ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Manufacturing Census Counts in North East India

Numbers in India’s Periphery: The Political Economy of Government Statistics by Ankush Agrawal and Vikas Kumar, New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2020; pp 397, `945.

When the results of the 2011 Census were declared, one curious anomaly immediately came to light. In one state, Nagaland, the population appeared to have contracted between 2001 and 2011, while the rest of the country recorded a significant population growth. This “demographic somersault” attracted the attention of two intrepid data detectives, Ankush Agrawal and Vikas Kumar, whose investigation into the issue revealed a wide range of problems with Nagaland’s official statistics. From the census data to administrative maps to poverty estimates, it appears that all official data on Nagaland are of poor quality, affecting even finance commission allocations for the state.

The root of the problem lay in the census, the statistical bedrock on which other calculations and projections stand. Over the past few decades, the census counts seem to have been manipulated, exaggerating the state’s population. Matters came to a head in 2001 when the census reported a 65% increase in Nagaland’s population between 1991 and 2001. The results were so astounding that even the state government felt compelled to reject them. The 2001 miscount prompted wide-ranging deliberations before the 2011 Census to prevent a repeat of such exaggerations, leading to more realistic estimates in the last census. Since the population figures were inflated in the 2001 Census, the 2011 Census reported a reduced population of the state.

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Updated On : 14th Mar, 2022
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