A census with a difference

BANGALORE:  This time, the Socio-economic and Caste census (SECC-2011) has not only become easier but also less cumbersome for the thousands of enumerators all over the country, busy coll

Published: 16th February 2012 03:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 05:57 PM   |  A+A-


BANGALORE:  This time, the Socio-economic and Caste census (SECC-2011) has not only become easier but also less cumbersome for the thousands of enumerators all over the country, busy collecting information ranging from  land status to personal possessions thanks to the tablet PC developed by the public sector unit Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).  

Since mid-last year, enumerators have been using this `3,000 a piece tablet PC and have managed to cover more than 50 per cent of the population right from Assam to Madhya Pradesh to Kerala. In Karnataka, the census which started in last December, is progressing in two phases and as of today, 50 per cent of the population has been covered, except some BBMP areas where it started only in January.

The electronically conducted, paperless survey is expected to be completed in the entire country by mid-March. The entire exercise done on the handheld electronic device will drastically reduce data entry errors and enumerator discretion. The SECC-2011 will provide authentic information on the socio-economic conditions and education status of various castes and sections of the population. There will be no possibility of interpolation or falsification of information and it will also greatly reduce time and resources required for such an exercise. Later, the data will be directly uploaded from the tablet to the database, removing possibility of human errors and manipulation that can happen in a manual format.

A data entry operator is accompanying each enumerator  who is assigned 150 households in each of the four blocks. The data is being directly captured on the tablet PC which has the scanned images of the forms filled up for National Population Registry (NPR). Officials claim this will ensure complete and accurate coverage unlike the 2002 BPL survey.

Srinivas, a data entry operator, working in the Bharati Nagar area in Bangalore told Express that there was a positive response  from the people. “Though the speed is low, we are covering 40-50 households per day but once the data is collected, it is shown, checked and then only saved. In fact, the work of the enumerator has been totally reduced but still they are better paid than us,” the operator complains.

The tablet supporting a host of software applications on Android 2.2 operating system is compact, portable, having a seven inch resistive touch screen. The fully loaded tablet has all the essential requirements needed in a computing device with two USB ports for connectivity. Since the model that is being used in the poverty census is the basic version, the internet connectivity is through ethernet 10/100 mbps.

Having a solar backed battery charger and an additional battery backup of eight hours, it is very viable in remote, rural areas where there is no power supply.  A consortium of three companies, BEL, ITI and ECIL is collecting the data.

According to BEL Director (Marketing), H N Ramakrishna, they had  supplied 5.85 lakh tablets out of the order for six lakh to the Rural Development Ministry.  The company has also received another order for 40,000 tablets. Another advanced version has been developed with enhanced processor speed, higher RAM and wi fi memory.

With Planning Commission indicating that poverty had declined to 32 per cent in 2009-10 from 37.2 per cent five years ago, the findings of the SECC-11 is keenly awaited to correctly assess the number of BPL families for extending Food Security Act which promises subsidised grain to the poor.

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