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The earliest references of Census taking in India can be traced back to the Mauryan period in Kautilaya’s ‘Arthashastra’ (321-296 BC) and later during the Mughal period in the writings of Abul Fazl (1595-96) in the ‘Ain-e-Akbari’. A count of the population of British India was taken up in 1853 in the North Western Frontier, which was followed by a series of Census like enumerations. However, these were not Censuses but simple head counts and were untrustworthy. A systematic and modern Population Census, in its present scientific form was conducted non-synchronously between 1865 and 1872 in different parts of the country. This effort culminating in 1872 has been popularly labelled as the first population Census of India. The first synchronous Census in India was however conducted in 1881. Census 2011 is the 15th in the unbroken series of Censuses since 1872 and the seventh since India attained independence. Such a historical legacy is unparalleled in the world.

Censuses in India have been collecting information on the housing stock as well as the various parameters concerning the population of the country since 1881. However, prior to Census 1961, different types of forms were in use in different regions of the country for collecting data on the housing stock. The lack of uniformity in concepts and definitions made it impossible to attempt building up a national picture. The need for a uniform schedule throughout the country was felt with the commencement of the Five Year Plans. In response to this need, Census 1961 started collecting data on housing by adopting a uniform and standardized Houselisting Schedule throughout the country. A few tables were generated based on the questions in the Houselisting Schedule giving the purpose for which the Census houses are used, material of the wall and roof of the Census house, number of the rooms occupied by the households, ownership status of households, nature of activity carried out in the industrial establishments, type of power used and number of persons employed in this Census. In Census 1971, a similar set of questions was canvassed except that the data on establishment was collected through a separate schedule. The information on the housing conditions and facilities was part of the Houselist Schedule of the Census 1971.

There was a major change in Census 1981 wherein only two questions, one pertaining to the use of the Census house and other on the physically handicapped persons were included in the houselisting form, while information on the amenities available to the household was collected through a separate schedule canvassed at the time of Population Enumeration with the aim to produce the household level tables with cross classification of amenities available classified by the population characteristics of the household. Further, an Enterprise list was canvassed along with the Houselist Schedule as part of the Economic Census organized by the Central Statistical Organization (CSO).

In Census 1991, the scope of the Houselisting Schedule was further expanded and data was collected for as many as twenty two items along with the questions on amenities available to the households. Questions on the type of fuel used for cooking by the households and availability of toilet facilities in rural households were also canvassed for the first time. In addition, a question on whether the head of the household belonged to Schedule Caste or Schedule Tribe was asked enabling tabulation of various housing and amenities data items separately for Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe households.

The Houselisting Operations of Census 2001 saw a major shift in approach to determine the quality of living of the households rather than just housing. Several new items were added in the Houselist Schedule besides improvements made in its format resulting in increase in number of questions from 22 in Census 1991 to 33 in Census 2001. The questions added in 2001 included the condition of residential or partly residential houses categorized as good or livable or dilapidated, number of married couples living in the household and number of married couples having independent rooms for sleeping, connection of waste water outlet to closed, open drainage or no drainage, possession of bathroom and kitchen facility within the house, availability of certain assets and availing of banking services. One of the major changes was that almost all the questions in the Houselist Schedule had pre-coded numeric options which not only helped enumerators to record the response easily but also facilitated quick data processing.

In Census 2011, the questionnaire for the Houselisting and Housing Census was similar to that of Census 2001. Additional questions in Census 2011 included possession of “Computer/Laptop with or without internet facility” and “Mobile phone”. Apart from this, many of the questions were refined. One question, namely, “number of married couples having independent rooms for sleeping” was dropped. A detailed description of the modifications made in Census 2011 is given at Annexure-II. In the subsequent paragraphs, details about the conduct of Houselisting and Housing Census 2011 are given.

Houselisting and Housing Census 2011

Next to food and clothing, housing is one of the basic needs of human being both from social as well as economic point of view. Hence, the data on housing is considered as one of the key indicators of the socio‐economic of development. The data on housing is essential for formulation of effective policy and planning of balanced and equitable development in the country. Hence time series data on housing and housing conditions are of great importance for the government and other agencies involved in such activities.

The Census of India conducts housing census every ten years just some months prior to the population enumeration and this activity is considered as the first phase of Census Operation which is one of the important part of census exercise.

The Houselisting and Housing Census is conducted once in a decade, by visiting the household and canvassing the same questionnaire all over the country. The objective of the Houselisting and Housing Census is to systematically list out all the structures, houses and households throughout the country and number them. It aims to provide information on the following basic amenities and assets available to the household.

  • Number of census houses and household living there;
  • Condition of houses and tenure status;
  • Water supply;
  • Sanitation;
  • Amenities;
  • Assets

The Houselisting and Housing Census was conducted in different States and Union Territories during April-September 2010. While in most of the States/Union Territories, the Houselisting and Housing Census was taken up in a single phase, in States like Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh the same was conducted in two phases due to the weather conditions (snowfall) in certain parts of these States. In Delhi, the exercise was conducted in two phases on account of administrative convenience.

In addition to collecting data on characteristics of the house, information on availability of certain amenities and possession of certain assets by the households were collected in this phase. A separate Schedule was also canvassed in which the details required for creating the National Population Register were collected. For working out the calendar for Houselisting Operations various factors such as availability of enumerators, weather conditions and agricultural activities were taken into account. Normally, a period of one month is considered sufficient for canvassing the Houselisting and Housing Census Schedule. The period, April to September is also considered ideal for this exercise. However, in Census 2011, the period was increased to 45 days keeping in view the fact that the National Population Register (NPR) Schedule was also canvassed additionally. The Calendar of Houselisting and Housing Census is given in the table below :

Sl. No. State/Union Territory# Period of Houselisting
1 Jammu and Kashmir
15th May – 30th June, 2010
16th July – 30th August, 2010 (Snow bound areas)
2 Himachal Pradesh
7th April – 22nd May, 2010
1st June – 15th July, 2010 (Snow bound areas)
3 Punjab 1st May – 15th June, 2010
4 Chandigarh # 15th April – 31st May, 2010
5 Uttarakhand 1st May – 15th June, 2010
6 Haryana 1st May – 15th June, 2010
7 NCT of Delhi #
1st April – 15th May, 2010 (New Delhi – part)
1st May – 15th June, 2010 (Entire Delhi)
8 Rajasthan 15th May – 30th June, 2010
9 Uttar Pradesh 16th May – 30th June, 2010
10 Bihar 15th May – 30th June, 2010
11 Sikkim 7th April – 22nd May, 2010
12 Aruanachal Pradesh 15th April – 31st May, 2010
13 Nagaland 1st June – 15th July, 2010
14 Manipur
1st June – 15th July, 2010 (extended upto 31st July, 2010)
Tamenglong district extended upto 15th August, 2010
15 Mizoram 15th May – 30th June, 2010
16 Tripura 26th April – 10th June, 2010
17 Meghalaya 1st April – 15th May, 2010
18 Assam 1st April – 25th May, 2010
19 West Bengal
1st April – 15th May , 2010
In LWE areas and in Kolkata (extended upto 30th September, 2010)
20 Jharkhand 15th June – 1st August, 2010
21 Odisha 7th April – 22nd May, 2010
22 Chhattisgarh 1st May – 15th June, 2010 (In four districts extended up to 31st October, 2010)
23 Madhya Pradesh 7th May – 22nd June, 2010
24 Gujarat 21st April – 4th June, 2010
25 Daman and Diu # 21st April – 4th June, 2010
26 Dadra & Nagar Haveli # 21st April – 4th June, 2010
27 Maharashtra 1st May – 15th June, 2010 (In Mumbai extended upto 31st July, 2010)
28 Andhra Pradesh 26th April – 10th June, 2010
29 Karnataka 15th April – 31st May , 2010
30 Goa 1st April – 15th May, 2010
31 Lakshadweep # 7th April – 22nd May, 2010
32 Kerala 12th April – 27th May, 2010
33 Tamil Nadu 1st June – 15th July, 2010
34 Puducherry # 1st June – 15th July, 2010
35 Andaman & Nicobar Islands # 1st April – 30th April, 2010

The steps taken prior to the conduct of the Houselisting and Housing Census are detailed in the paragraphs below :

Field Trials

Field Trials to test the questions proposed to be canvassed in Census 2011 were undertaken during June-July, 2007 in six states, namely, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal.

Conference of Data Users

The first Conference of Data Users was held in April, 2008. In this Conference, consultations were held with all stakeholders comprising representatives of various Ministries of Government of India, State Governments, National and International voluntary organisations, Population Research Centres, Statistical Institutions, Universities, Eminent Demographers and Social Scientists.

Pre Test

The Census Questionnaire was piloted and pre-tested in the field in all States and Union Territories from 28th June 2009 to 17th August 2009. The Notification to this effect was published in the Gazette of India on 8th April, 2009. The Pre test was conducted as a full scale exercise, a virtual rehearsal of the Census. It was conducted in 53 rural and 32 urban charges. The two rural charges were chosen in bigger and one in smaller States/UTs except A&N Islands. It included 201 Villages where 550 Houselisting Blocks were formed. This constituted 60,327 Buildings in which 81,471 Census Houses and 59,047 Households were enumerated. In urban areas, 32 Charges (one in each State/UT except Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep), comprising 32 Wards/ part-Wards were covered. In all, 554 Houselisting Blocks were carved out in urban areas which consisted of 58,366 Buildings, 1,19,955 Census Houses and 67,279 Households. The results and the field experiences of the Pre-Test were discussed in a Conference of the Directors of Census Operations and a draft Questionnaire was finalised for the consideration of the Technical Advisory Committee.

Technical Advisory Committee

In order to finalise the Questionnaire and advise the Census Organisation, a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was constituted by the Government of India on 30th September 2008. The List of Members of the Advisory Committee is at Annexure - III. The TAC held three Meetings on 25th November 2008, 9th October 2009 and 23rd June 2010. The results and experiences of the pre-test were submitted to the Technical Advisory Committee. The TAC considered the draft Questionnaire and keeping in view the demands of the data users and the available resources within the organization and the States, made valuable suggestions for improving its form and content.

Approval of the Government of India

The final Questionnaire was then put up for the consideration of the Government of India. The Government of India gave its assent to the two Questionnaires after which the Questions to be asked in the Houselisting and Housing Census and Population Enumeration were duly published in the Gazette of India. In all, 34 Questions were approved for canvassing in the Houselisting and Housing Census Schedule and 29 Questions in the Household Schedule (Population Enumeration). The final Questionnaires developed and canvassed for the Census 2011- the Houselisting and Housing Census Schedule and the Household Schedule are placed at Annexures IV & V.

Notifications regarding conduct of Census

The Census of India is conducted under the provisions of the Census Act 1948 and the Census Rules, 1990. The statute requires the Notification of various processes under provisions of the above Act and Rules. Accordingly, various processes have been duly notified in the Gazette of India after following the processes laid down. The various Notifications are listed below:

  • The Notification regarding the intention of the Government of India to conduct a Census of the population of India in 2011 was published in the Gazette of India on 20th February 2009. In the same Notification, the Reference Date was also notified as 00.00 hours of the first day of March 2011 (except for the snow-bound areas of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand). In the snow-bound areas of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the Reference Date was notified as 00.00 hours of the first day of October 2010.
  • The Notifications regarding the conduct of Houselisting and Housing Census from 1st April 2010 to 30th September 2010 in different States and Union Territories and the questions proposed to be canvassed during the Houselisting and Housing Census were published in the Gazette of India on 25th February 2010 (Annexure -VI).
  • The Notification regarding the questions to be canvassed in the Population Enumeration was published in the Gazette of India on 31st August 2010.

Organisational Structure

In India, Population Census is a Union Subject (Article 246) and is listed at serial number 69 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. The Census Act, 1948 forms the legal basis for the conduct of Censuses in independent India. Although, the Census Act is an instrument of Central Legislation, in the scheme of its execution, the State Governments provide the administrative support for the actual conduct of the Census.

The Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India is an attached office under the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India. Its main responsibility is to conceive, plan and implement Census taking in the country. The organization is headed by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India. There are field offices in all the States and Union Territories (except the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and the Union Territory of Daman and Diu, which are attached to the office at Gujarat), which are headed by the Directors of Census Operations, who are responsible for the conduct of Census in their respective jurisdictions. The list of the Directors of Census Operations of all the States/Union Territories along with their date of joining is given at Annexure VII.

Following Figure gives the organisational pyramid through which the Census Operations are conducted in India.

Organisational Pyramid

Freezing of Administrative boundaries and finalisation of the Rural/Urban frame

An essential pre-requisite for successful Census taking is the presence of a firm and unambiguous frame of administrative units. This requires an updating of the list of Administrative Units across the country. The first task before every Census is to freeze the administrative boundaries at a point of time. In Census 2011, this was done with reference to 31st of December, 2009. All the States/UTs were requested to freeze the boundaries of administrative units and not to change them till the Census was over. With the boundaries frozen, a Directory of Administrative Units with Unique Identification Code for each unit was prepared. This ensured that every Administrative Unit is covered without omission or duplication. A unique feature of the coding system in Census 2011 is that it identifies Villages, Statutory Towns, Census Towns and Forest Villages in separate series. The salient features of the location code system adopted in Census 2011 are as follows:

  • The State and District Codes were pre-printed on the Schedules.
  • Short codes were introduced for field work in order to reduce the scriptory work of enumerators – 2 digits for Districts (within the State), 3 digits in the case of Sub-districts (within the District), and 4 digits in the case of Villages and Towns (within a Sub-district).
  • Normal Villages have been given a range between 0001 and 5999, while forest Villages have been given a range between 6000-6999.
  • Statutory Towns have been given Codes within the range of 7001-7999 and Census Towns are covered in the range of 8001-8999.
  • The short codes have been used only for the purpose of field work. For the purpose of tabulation and presentation of data, the codes as per “Metadata and Data Standards” (MDDS) have been adopted.


The availability of accurate maps as per the latest administrative boundaries is a pre-requisite for Census. The Cartographic Division of the Census Organisation has evolved over the years and is now the largest producer of thematic Maps in the country. It has come a long way from the traditional manual cartographic methods used until 1981 and now utilizes the latest GIS software to produce digital maps. The latest addition in Census 2011 is the preparation of satellite imagery based digital maps at the street and building level in 33 Capital Cities of the country. These digital maps were used effectively to carve out the Enumeration Blocks in both phases of the Census. 47 new Districts, 461 new Sub-districts, 252 new Statutory Towns, 2733 new Census Towns and several new Villages have come up since 2001. Maps of all these Administrative Units were obtained and updated. Extensive changes have also occurred in the existing boundaries of the Towns. All these changes have also been incorporated in the maps.

An added feature in Census 2011 was that print-outs of maps showing the boundary of every Village/Town were provided to the Charge Officers to mark the position of Enumeration Blocks on these. This was aimed at reducing the chance of any omission or duplication of areas.

Each enumerator was required to prepare a layout map of the area popularly known as the Enumerator’s Block (EB) allotted to her/him. The layout map not only depicted the boundaries and important landmarks of the EB but also indicated each building and Census house within that area. While listing of the building and the Census houses and households, the enumerators were also required to place a Census number on each and every Census house within her/his block with the sole purpose of identification at a later date. These Census house numbers were also displayed on the layout map. In certain urban areas the already existing municipal house/flat numbers were used while listing but in many urban areas the Census authorities did choose to put fresh Census numbers. In rural India the Census house numbers had to be necessarily painted by the enumerators as usually the house/building in rural areas do not have any numbers. Specific instructions were issued regarding the visibility, size and methodology for placing the number by enumerators.

Design of Census Schedules

The processing of data using image recognition techniques requires a great degree of standardization in form design and printing. Special efforts were undertaken to improve the design and quality of the Census Schedules. The task of designing the template was assigned to the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad. The design includes state of the art features that aid both in data collection and scanning. The new features include, among others:

  • Barcode on every Schedule
  • Form number on every Schedule
  • Edge Cut, to ensure proper alignment of Schedules
  • Use of special quality paper- specification standards for which were specially formulated
  • Production of the paper in high end Mills under strict quality control
  • Digital printing in sophisticated security presses
  • Use of standardized palette of printing inks
  • Pre-printing of the State/UT and district names and codes on the Schedule
  • Provision for tracking “continued sheets”
  • User friendly layout
  • Provision for drop-out of colours while scanning in order to assist better image recognition.

One of the achievements of Census 2011 is that the Schedules were of very high quality and match the best in class.

Appointment of Census Functionaries

A huge army of about 2.7 million enumerators and supervisors carried out the house numbering and canvassed the Houselisting and Housing Census Schedule along with NPR Schedule across the country. Each of these officials was appointed under specific provisions of the Census Act, 1948. A majority of the enumerators were drawn from the pool of primary school teachers, who were locally available. Other Government and semi-Government officials were also drafted for Census duty. A supervisor was appointed for every 6 enumerators. Supervisors were also locally available government or semigovernment officials.

The hub of Census activities was the Charge. The Charge was usually a sub-district or town and was manned by an Officer designated as the Charge Officer. The sub district magistrate, known in different States/UTs as the Tehsildar, Mamlatdar or some other such designation were appointed as Charge Officers.

The next level in the hierarchy was the District, which was headed by the District Magistrate, known in various States/UTs as the Collector or Deputy Commissioner. Large Municipal Corporations were headed by Commissioners. These Officers were responsible for the conduct of Census in their respective jurisdictions and were designated as the Principal Census Officers. Officers at the District level were designated as Additional District Census Officers and Assistant District Census Officers to assist the Principal Census Officers.

At the provincial level, the Director of Census Operations was responsible for the conduct of Census operations and at the National level, the Registrar General and Census Commissioner owned the responsibility of conducting the Census.

Charge Register

The Charge Registers are prepared much ahead of the actual start of the field work of Houselisting Operations. The main purpose of preparing the Charge Register is to estimate the workload and the number of field workers required for the operation. The work load assigned to each enumerator was about 120–150 Census houses. The first step for the Houselisting Operations was to delineate all areas. Based on the number of Census houses the Houselisting Blocks (HLBs) were formed. For the first time, it was decided to keep the HLBs fixed for both the phases and if the number of households reported in Houselisting would be more than the criteria followed for carving out the Enumeration Blocks for Population Enumeration, then it would be split into two sub-blocks keeping the same block number. The objective for maintaining the same enumeration blocks was to facilitate the linking of the two sets of data or information for both the phases.


A feature that makes the Indian Census particularly complex is that the Schedules were canvassed in 16 languages and the Instruction Manuals were developed in 18 languages. The requirement was also huge - 5.4 million Instruction Manuals and 340 million Census Schedules. To add to the complexity, the Schedules had to be printed on special grade paper, the specifications for which were evolved in India for the first time in consultation with experts in scanning technology and paper technologists. Printing was carried out in high end Presses having facility of variable printing and very high production volumes. That the entire quantity of material has been printed within the stringent timelines and with strict adherence to quality is a feat in itself. The result is that the Indian Census Schedules are comparable with the best in class internationally.


The task of making available all the materials required for conducting the Census–Enumerators Kits, Instruction Manuals and other training material, Census Schedules in the right quantity and in the right language to the Charge Officers (approximately 17, 000 in number) and the reverse collection of filled in Schedules and other material, as can well be imagined is a logistical nightmare. Adding to the complexity is the fact that each Charge may use material in several languages. The first task was therefore to prepare an accurate database of Charge-wise requirement of material. The next task was to pack the materials as per the database, address each package correctly and have them shipped out to each location. The printing was done at locations spread all over the country with varying levels of efficiency, which added to the challenge. It is a matter of satisfaction that the entire task of printing and packing of material was accomplished in time and with a fair degree of efficiency. As regards the transportation of material, a pioneering initiative of using the India Post for handling the logistics was undertaken. A special ‘Logistics Post’ arrangement was put in place by India Post for the Census 2011. Though there were a few operational problems, the precision with which the entire logistics operation was accomplished within a very short period of time, is remarkable.


The need for comprehensive training of all functionaries, especially the Enumerators and Supervisors can hardly be underscored. A three tier cascade of training was devised for this purpose. At the top of the pyramid were a group of National Trainers, 90 in number. This group was rigorously trained for 5 days at a residential training camp. The National Trainers trained 725 Master Trainer Facilitators (MTFs) at the State level. The MTFs in turn, trained 54,000 Master Trainers (MTs) at the District level. The MTs ultimately trained the 2.7 million Enumerators and Supervisors at the field level.

Special efforts have been taken to improve the Instruction Manuals by including more illustrations and examples. Training Guides have also been prepared. The Trainers at each level – National, State and District level have been given intensive in-house training and provided training aids, such as Power Point presentations, e-Learning Modules, scripts of Role Plays and Practice Sheets. It needs mention that the entire training strategy has been a collaborative effort between the UN Agencies (UNFPA, UNICEF, UNDP, UN WOMEN) and the Census Organisation. A new feature in Census 2011 has been the utilisation of Non-Governmental Agencies in the training effort. In order to supplement the manpower deployed for training by the Directorates of Census Operations of the States/UTs, trained manpower from NGOs was also utilised.


All modes of Publicity – Mass media, Public relations, Outreach activities and Digital media were used to spread awareness and enlist the cooperation of all stakeholders. A scientific media plan was designed by a professional agency that also created the media content in both the phases of the Census. A new initiative – ‘Census in Schools’ was launched across the country. The purpose of this programme was to make all children aware that the Census is taking place and that they have a role in ensuring that the data for their own family is recorded correctly. Another purpose was to expose them to the significance of Census Data in the development of the country. The programme covered about 60 to 80 schools in each of the 640 Districts in the country and was specifically designed for participation by the students of the entire school in general and the students of class VI, VII and VIII in particular. In addition to the efforts taken at the National level, publicity efforts were also taken at the level of the Directorates and at the District and local levels by the field officers. A unique feature of Census 2011 was the innovative use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The enthusiastic response of the younger generation to this initiative and the very positive comments posted on the site were motivating. A photography competition was also launched in connection with the Census 2011 which saw very active participation. An innovative Logo was also adopted for Census 2011.

Census Help Line

Help desks and help lines had been introduced in the last Census. The same was continued in this Census also. The help desks were established at the charge level and were manned by Master Trainers. In addition, the mobile phone numbers of certain experts from the Directorates were given to the Master Trainers so that they could get clarifications then and there. A Toll Free Number was activated and a Call Centre established at which calls could be received from the Enumerators and Supervisors. Though the Call Centre personnel were trained, most calls were routed to experts at each Directorate to answer on a real time basis. Besides, a section ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ was opened in the Census website which was accessed by officials and Enumerators alike. In few Directorates, elaborate training videos were produced and given to each Enumerator.

Data Processing of HLO

A Conference on “Technology Options for 2011 Census” was held at New Delhi in December, 2007 in which the experiences of the Census 2001 were shared. The Conference endorsed the use of image based processing technology for Census 2011 also. Following this, the National Informatics Center was given the responsibility of assessing the available technology and submitting a report. In its report the NIC recommended the continuance of Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) technology with enhanced features. It also recommended the use of Hardware of higher configuration that would enhance speed as well as quality.

Based on the recommendations, 17 Scanning Centres and 15 Data Processing Centres were set up across the country. The Houselist and Housing Census schedules containing hand-written data were scanned in the Scanning Centres and the images sent to the Data Centres for processing. The processing was done using Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) software. The processed data after a rigorous process of quality checks and validation was finally tabulated on a full count basis.

Quality Assurance

While processing the data, utmost care was taken to ensure quality. This involved concurrent quality check based on scientifically and statistically designed samples as well as post processing checks.

A Task Force for Quality Assurance (TFQA) functioned under the chairmanship of the RG & CCI. Experienced officers of the different divisions of the organization comprised the TFQA. The list of members of TFQA is at Annexure-VIII. The main objective of constituting the TFQA was to subject the data to stringent validation checks and ensure its quality before release. The TFQA intensively scrutinized coverage and content parameters including edit and imputation logic.

Note of Caution

As in Census 2001, the Houselisting data for Census 2011 is a comprehensive dataset on the living conditions of the households in terms of their housing condition, amenities available to them, and the specified assets they possess. The availability of the data set at the district, sub-district and town level makes it most exhaustive and unique. This comprehensive and exclusive data set on households will not only be useful to administrators, planners and policy makers within the government but will be immensely beneficial to non-governmental organisations, industry, trade, academicians and social scientists.

It is significant to note that the data is based on processing of cent percent records, unlike the situation prior to 2001 when the data was based on sample records. It would, however, be important for the data users to adopt a certain degree of caution while making analysis and drawing inferences in respect of a few variables included in the Houselisting data sets. Although, all possible precautions have been taken, inadvertent processing errors or conceptual errors on the part of enumerator cannot be ruled out. A few common errors were made by the enumerators across the country due to lack of conceptual understanding. In roof material codes for stone (code-6) and slate (code-7) were given interchangeably by the enumerators. Due to this, the figures against stone and slate under roof material have not been shown separately and are clubbed together in the relevant tables. There was some confusion particularly in case of service latrines from where human excreta are removed by humans. The Flush/Pour Flush latrine which are connected to the Septic Tanks and are cleaned periodically (usually after a few years) manually were also coded as Service Latrine (Night soil removed by human)-(code-7). The lower the level of geographical presentations of data sets, the greater would be the likelihood of these small irritants becoming a little more visible.

Post Enumeration Survey

After the HLO field-work, a Post Enumeration Survey (PES) was conducted to assess the accuracy of the Houselisting data. It was an independent sample survey that replicated the actual Houselisting Operations.

Concepts & Definitions


Premises have been defined as a building along with the land and /or common places attached to it. Premises may not always have a compound wall or fencing. In such cases, the land or the common place as the case may be, available to the household is treated as 'premises'.


A ‘building’ is generally a single structure on the ground. Usually a building will have four walls and a roof. However, in some areas, the very nature of construction of building is such that there are no walls as in the case of conical structures. Such conical structures are also treated as buildings. Sometimes it is made up of more than one component unit which are used or likely to be used as dwellings (residences) or establishments such as shops business houses, offices, factories, workshops, work sheds, schools, places of entertainment, places of worship, godowns etc. It is also possible that buildings which have component units are used for a combination of purposes such as shop-cum-residence, workshop-cum-residence, office-cum-residence, residence-cum-doctor’s clinic etc.

Census house:

A ‘Census house’ is a building or part of a building used or recognized as a separate unit because it has a separate main entrance from the road or common courtyard or staircase etc. These may be occupied or vacant and may be used for residential or non-residential purposes or both. The following codes were used to record the various uses of Census Houses for Census 2011.

Residence 1
Residence-cum-other use 2
Shop/office 3
School/college etc. 4
Hotel/lodge/guest house etc. 5
Hospital/dispensary etc. 6
Factory/workshop/work shed etc. 7
Place of worship 8
Other non-residential use 9
Vacant 0


A ‘household’ in Census is defined as a group of persons who normally live together and take their meals from a common kitchen unless the exigencies of work prevents any of them from doing so. The persons in a household may be related or unrelated or a mix of both. However, if a group of un-related persons live in a Census house but do not take their meals from the common kitchen, they are not considered a part of common household. Each such person is treated as a separate household.

Main source of Drinking Water:

Data was collected regarding the main source of drinking water for the household. The source, which was availed during the greater part of the year, was to be recorded as the main source. Tap water was bifurcated into two categories i.e. ‘Tap water from treated source’ and ‘Tap water from un-treated source’. Similarly well water was separately canvassed under ‘Covered well’ and ‘Un-covered well’. Hand pump code was used where ground water was extracted manually. Tube well/Borehole code was used where sub-soil water was taken out through electricity or diesel pump. Other sources included those cases where drinking water was made available by tankers or bottled water was used by the household. The following codes were used.

Main source of Drinking water Code
Tap water from Treated source 1
Tap water from Un-treated source 2
Covered well 3
Un-covered well 4
Hand pump 5
Tube well/borehole 6
Spring 7
River/canal 8
Tank/pond/lake 9
Other sources 0

Availability of drinking water source: Information on availability of drinking water source was collected depending upon the distance at which it was available.

  • Within the premises: Code ‘1’ was assigned if the source was located within the premises where the household lived.
  • Near the premises: Code ‘2’ was assigned if the source was located within a range of 100 metres from the premises in urban areas and within a distance of 500 metres in the case of rural areas.
  • Away from the premises: Code ‘3’ was recorded if the drinking water source was located beyond 100 metres from the premises in urban areas and 500 metres in rural areas.

Main source of Lighting:

As in Census 2001, the data for main source of lighting used by the household was also collected in Census 2011. The Enumerator was instructed to ascertain the main source of lighting used by the household for major part of the last 12 months and record the appropriate code. Six sources and their codes used for collection of information on main source of lighting in Census 2011 are as follows.

Main source of lighting Code
Electricity 1
Kerosene 2
Solar 3
Other oil 4
Any other 5
No lighting 6

Availability and Type of Latrine within the Premises:

Two questions were canvassed during Houselisting & Housing Census, 2011 to ascertain the availability and type of latrine within the premises. The first question related to whether latrine facility was available within the premises. Based on the response to this question, the appropriate code for the type of latrine was recorded. The set of codes used during Census 2011 are given below:

Type of latrine facility Code
Flush/pour flush latrine connected to
Piped sewer system 1
Septic tank 2
Other system 3
Pit latrine
With slab/Ventilated improved pit 4
Without slab/open pit 5
Type of latrine facility Code
Night soil disposed into open drain 6
Service latrine
Night soil removed by human 7
Night soil serviced by animals 8
No latrine within premises
Public latrine 9
Open 0

If the pour flush latrine was connected to a system of sewer pipes that collected both human excreta and waste water and removed them from the household environment, code ‘1’ was recorded. Sewerage system consisted of facilities for collection, pumping, treating and disposing of human excreta and waste water. This system is usually underground and is maintained by public authorities. If the pour flush latrine was connected to a septic tank that collected both human excreta and waste water and removed from the household environment code ‘2’ was recorded. Septic tank refers to a system for excreta collection consisting of a water-tight settling tank normally located underground, away from the house. These septic tanks undergo cleaning periodically (usually after a few years) either manually or by machines. If the flush/pour flush latrine was connected to any system other than piped sewer system or septic tank, e.g., excreta flushed to the street yard/plot, drainage ditch or other location, it was given code ‘3’.

Defecation into pits dug into the ground for the reception of night soil directly without flushing was reckoned as pit latrines. A pit latrine with a squatting slab or platform or seat firmly supported on all sides which was raised above the surrounding ground level to prevent surface water from entering the pit and easy to clean was recorded as ‘Pit latrine with slab’. Such pit latrines were sometimes ventilated by a pipe extending above the latrine roof and the open end of the vent pipe was covered with mesh or fly-proof net. This was referred to as ventilated improved pit latrine. Code ‘4’ was recorded for both these types of latrines. A pit latrine without a squatting slab or platform or seat was given code ‘5’.

In some parts of the Country there is facility of a latrine within the premises but the waste material is disposed directly into the open drain. Code ‘6’ was recorded for these types of latrines.

In many parts of the Country the human excreta is collected in a bucket or other container or even allowed to collect in the open and is removed physically by human beings or animals. In case it was removed by human beings, code ‘7’ was recorded and in case it was serviced by animal, code ‘8’ was recorded.

Data was collected separately for the households using public latrine (Code ‘9’) and defecating in the open areas such as open fields, bush, river, stream, railway tracks etc. (Code ‘0’).

Mode of Transportation

The availability of modes of transport – Bicycle, Scooter/Motor Cycle/Moped and Car/Jeep/Van was ascertained. The enquiry was limited to their availability and not their number, source or ownership.

Bicycle: Yes-1/No-2

If the household had a bicycle code ‘1’ was recorded. If not, code ‘2’ was recorded. Tricycle used by the disabled persons was also considered as bicycle and code ‘1’ was given if the household was in possession.

Scooter/Motor Cycle/Moped: Yes-1/No-2

The availability of scooter or motor cycle or moped was ascertained from the respondent. If the household had a scooter or a motor cycle or a moped code ‘1’ was recorded. If not, code ‘2’ was recorded. This asset was treated as available if the household had any type of two wheeled motorized vehicle having 50 CC or above.

Car/Jeep/Van: Yes-1/No-2

A car or jeep or van was treated as available to the household, if this was put to use by the member(s) of the household for her/his/their own use. Code ‘1’ was recorded if it was available and code ‘2’ was recorded if it was not available. This asset was also treated as available to the household, if any member(s) of the household possessed a multi utility vehicle (MUV) or sports utility vehicle (SUV) or sports car.

Mode of Communication

Radio/Transistor: Yes-1/No-2

If the household had a radio or a transistor or both code ‘1’ was recorded and if none of these were available with the household code ‘2’ was recorded.

Television: Yes-1/No-2

If the household had a television set, colour or black & white, code ‘1’ was recorded else code ‘2’ was recorded.

Computer/Laptop: Yes: With internet-1, Without internet-2/No-3

This is new question introduced in Census 2011. If the household had a computer, desktop or laptop with internet, for use by one or more members in household, code ‘1’ was entered. If the household had a computer, desktop or laptop without internet, for use by one or more members in the household, code ‘2’ was entered. In case computer, desk top or laptop was not available in the household code ‘3’ was entered. Computer includes the monitor with colour or black and white screen.

Telephone/Mobile phone: Yes: Landline only-1 Mobile only-2, Both-3/No-4

In Census 2001 information on availability of Telephone was collected and in 2011 the scope of this question was expanded to include information on mobile phone also. If the household had a Landline Telephone only, code ‘1’ was recorded. If the household had Mobile Phone only, code ‘2’ was recorded. If the household had both the Landline Telephone as well as the Mobile Phone, code ‘3’ was entered. If the household had neither Landline Telephone nor Mobile Phone, then code ‘4’ was recorded. Landline Telephone includes wireless landline telephones.


  • Data for indicators is presented in percentages.
  • The sum of percentages may not add up to total due to rounding off.

New Features of Houselisting and Housing Census Schedule used during Census of India 2011

Amenities: For canvassing following changes have come up during Census 2011

Predominant material of 'floor' and 'roof'- Brick has been replaced with burnt brick

Predominant material of 'wall': Stone has been split into two:

  • Stone packed with mortar
  • Stone not packed with mortar

Predominant material of 'roof': Tiles have been split into two:

  • Handmade tiles / Machine made tiles

'Number of dwelling rooms with this household' has been replaced with 'Number of dwelling rooms exclusively in possession of this household'.

Source of Drinking water-

  • 'Tap' has been bifurcated into two:
    • Tap water from treated source, and
    • Tap water from un-treated source
  • 'Well' as main source has been bifurcated into two:
    • Covered well and Un-covered well
  • 'Spring' as the main source of drinking water has been clubbed with River/canal; 'Borehole' is clubbed with 'Tubewell'.

Latrine facility within the premises, coding options has been expanded to:

  • Flush/pourflush latrine connected to
    • Piped sewer system / Septic tank / Other system
  • Pit Latrine
    • With slab/ventilated improved pit
    • Without slab/open pit
  • Night soil disposed into open drain
  • Service Latrine
    • Night soil removed by human
    • Night soil serviced by animals
  • No latrine within premises
    • Public latrine / Open

Availability of kitchen coding option has been expanded to:

  • Cooking inside house
    • Has kitchen / Does not have kitchen
  • Cooking outside kitchen
    • Has kitchen / Does not have kitchen
  • No cooking

Fuel used for cooking: PNG has been clubbed with LPG

Bathing facility has been expanded to:

  • Availability
  • Enclosure without roof
  • No availability

Assets: Among availability of assets following have been added:

  • Computer/Laptop with or without internet have been newly added.

Telephone has been bifurcated into:

  • Landline only, Mobile, Both or none