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The task of keeping count

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  • shajijohnk@yahoo.co.in
    The task of keeping count The importance of gathering population data in terms of accretions and erosions in real time cannot be overstated. The census
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2006
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      The task of keeping count

      The importance of gathering population data in terms of accretions and erosions in real time cannot be overstated. The census provides decadal figures, but not a measure of year-on-year changes. The essential role of registration of births and deaths, providing a picture of trends of fertility and mortality, comes into focus here. The system provides useful documentary evidence that an individual may be called upon to produce in the course of several day-to-day activities. But the revelation that came at a national conference of Chief Registrars of Births and Deaths in New Delhi that the rate of registration continues to be low is a reminder of the need to have a re-look at the system. The record of registration is now dismal in five States: Uttar Pradesh (births: 5.6 per cent, deaths: 1.8 per cent), Bihar (11.5 and 18.1), Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan. It has been estimated that the national reporting average of less than 60 per cent may go up to 90 per cent!
      if these States manage to raise their rates to a reasonable level. States such as Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, and West Bengal have achieved 100 per cent reporting. The Union Government has set a target of cent per cent registration by 2010, as spelt out in the National Population Policy. This is not an unrealistic goal.

      A unified and efficient system of registration valid across the country evolved only in recent decades. The registration of all births and deaths within a period of 21 days is now mandatory under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child cites the right of every child to be registered soon after birth. India is denying more than a third of its children this right. At a time when a major transition is taking place in the contours of the population pyramid, the gathering, compilation, and analysis of data have become more important than ever before. Information technology offers a convenient and powerful tool. The main problem of non-reporting lies in the rural areas. The Working Group on Registration of Births, Deaths, and Marriages formed by the National Commission on Population has made a number of substantive recommendations to shore up the system. They need to be translated into action.

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