Home Anthropology Census Issue: A step towards change

Census Issue: A step towards change

Census Issue: A step towards change

Analysis of Pakistan’s flawed census practices from anthropological point of view

Syeda Anmol Ali

There is a huge gap between all the problems and resources in Pakistan as there are more problems than resources. There are several reasons for this entire situation, but one reason that seems trivial in appearance is very influential.

The census is a huge process by which the government counts the number of people living in the country, their age, family, occupational status, and number of teachers, students, and all other details, even including the dead, so that the country can be accurately counted. The situation should be improved by linking resources and problems together. However, when government employees fail to perform their work properly, the public is also complicit in corrupting the system. If the data reaches the correct destination, half of it is often fake; for instance, if the total population of the country is 22 crores, it is reportedly incorrectly in the census report. Various other columns are filled with fake data, including the concealment of people’s real ages and other issues. This census organization collects reports not only from people but also from NADRA offices, which is secondary data. More than half of the information is missing. Let’s discuss some of the early stages.

Primary Problems and Causes

In fact, I have noticed that the current problems stem from the lack of census and invalid data, which is a matter of a high-level system. No task is big or vast from the start, but small problems make them difficult over time. The birth of a child is the earliest stage. When was the child born? Exact registration date, day, year. These primary details play a crucial role in census reports. However, the part of our population who are uneducated and unaware of these rules and regulations often fail to register their newborn child. Even if they want to do so, it takes a while to gather all the necessary information, and people often provide incomplete or inaccurate data, writing invalid or imaginary information instead. The second stage is the registration of the N.I.C (National Identity Card) for adults, i.e., after 18 years of age, whether a boy or a girl, so that the information of this child is included in the government’s youth column, enabling the estimation of the percentage of youth present in the country. Education quality, health, and job opportunities are allocated based on this calculation. However, according to the fictitious or fake data provided by parents, a girl may be recorded as 12 or 15 years old even at the age of 18. Furthermore, the young generation today is unaware of how much progress and change is hindered by not registering their marriage or nikkah. If the initial stage is done correctly, the subsequent stages can also be done better.

check-christians-slam-pakistans-faulty-census-64477e040536f_600 UCA News
Photo courtesy: UCA News

The government inefficiency and system failure

Above, I have discussed all the public reasons; now, let’s examine the government’s side. National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) offices are present in every district. The government should also scrutinize the attitude and quality of work of the employees working there, as human morals and behavior have a significant influence. Second, the culture of nepotism should be eliminated, and every individual should be served equally. A person who comes continuously for three days and waits in line should not be treated differently than a rich or well-known person who gets their work done in a few minutes; this system should be rejected. The main problem with NADRA is that people are judged by their clothes and served based on that, which is a social injustice. Discriminating against anyone based on their ethnicity and identity should not be tolerated. This culture should be eliminated. During the census, the army and police should not overly involve themselves with census officers and go door-to-door, as people view them as a threat due to their incompetence, and are afraid to provide data to the census officers.

Registration criteria based on gender

Often, gender also creates barriers in all these systems and social services. Our traditional culture treats the female gender as something to hide. Sometimes, in the name of modesty or honor, women are not allowed to provide their names or personal information in the census. This is mostly found in rural areas. On the other hand, the reason for delaying registration is often tied to a girl’s marital status, commonly found in urban areas. Girls who do not pursue higher education and spend their time as homemakers have their NIC (National Identity Card) registration deferred until marriage. Then, after marriage, they are required to register with their husband’s name and marital status, just once.

What should be done?

Firstly, the government must address the initial problem by setting up registration counters in hospitals, enabling parents to register their newborns with accurate information, thereby streamlining the process. This approach is superior to requiring people to visit NADRA offices, where they often fail to register with accurate information due to delays. Moreover, individuals who have previously registered with fake ages to obtain benefits must be held accountable for their actions. By establishing this system in hospitals, information will be entered accurately, ensuring the registration of all born children. Conversely, bridging this gap will enable accurate recording of population rate data, which is essential for resource allocation and access.

Secondly, female staff should be included in the census team that visits rural areas to collect data from women who are restricted from stepping forward due to cultural or family honor reasons.

Thirdly, this system should be developed with both sociological and anthropological approaches. This will enable a deeper understanding of people through anthropological processes, allowing for tailored information provision about the importance of census participation and registration. Additionally, it will help to identify the genuine concerns and problems people face regarding this issue.

Read: Pakistan – Experts warn of inaccurate census counting


Anmol Ali- SU- AnthropologySyeda Anmol Ali is a student at the Archaeology and Anthropology Department, University of Sindh, Jamshoro

Read: Anthropological Study of Depression among Children


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