The Indian Census is the largest single source of a variety of statistical information on different characteristics of the people of India. With a history of more than 130 years, this reliable, time tested exercise has been bringing out a veritable wealth of statistics every 10 years, beginning from 1872 when the first census was conducted in India non-synchronously in different parts.
To scholars and researchers in demography, economics, anthropology, sociology, statistics and many other disciplines, the Indian Census has been a fascinating source of data. The rich diversity of the people of India is truly brought out by the decennial census which has become one of the tools to understand and study India.
The responsibility of conducting the decennial Census rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. It may be of historical interest that though the population census of India is a major administrative function; the Census Organisation was set up on an ad-hoc basis for each Census till the 1951 Census.
The Census Act was enacted in 1948 to provide for the scheme of conducting population census with duties and responsibilities of census officers. The Government of India decided in May 1949 to initiate steps for developing systematic collection of statistics on the size of population, its growth, etc., and established an organisation in the Ministry of Home Affairs under Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner, India.
This organisation was made responsible for generating data on population statistics including Vital Statistics and Census. Later, this office was also entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 in the country.