The Centre will push the 2021 Census to 2022 on account of the country’s continuing preoccupation with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Census exercise was to be conducted in two phases — House Listing and Housing Census from April to September 2020 and Population Enumeration from February 9 to February 28, 2021.
- The first phase of the Census and the updating of the National Population Register (NPR) were initially to be rolled out in some States on April 1, 2020, but were postponed due to the pandemic.
- The entire process had become controversial after Parliament approved the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in December 2019 that sought to give citizenship to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
- However, the rules required for implementing the CAA have not been framed so far — more than a year after the passage of this key legislation. Diplomatic sources believe that strong opposition from Bangladesh is one of the factors that led to the CAA remaining on hold.
- Tens of thousands of people had taken to the streets across the country protesting against the Centre’s decision to update the NPR, which is considered the basis for the preparation of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) that could potentially exclude millions of people born in India.