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How 'kagaz nahi dikhayenge' may delay key socio-economic survey

The surveyors not just lack households' cooperation or even attacked during their work, but the NSO too has received complaints from various states

Socio-economic census | NSO | Citizenship Act

Kanishka Gupta  |  New Delhi 

It’s been more than two months now since people started protesting against CAA which seeks to fast-track citizenship for certain religious minority groups in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

But the question arises, how the survey mapping the multiple indicators of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 2030 for the first time and collecting information on migration patterns of citizens and purchase of houses, among other things is been affected by the ongoing protest, which has been peaceful.

The questionnaires could be considered a plausible reason for the resistance faced.

People are quite suspicious about the questions, like, did they stay in the same place for at least six months? What was their last place of residence? Are household members planning to move out? Which country did the household member last live in? Whether they possess a birth certificate or about a place of residence purchased after March 31, 2014, Et al. fearing the data could be used to determine their citizenship.

As a result, the surveyors not just lack households’ cooperation or even attacked during their work, but the too has received complaints from various states, including Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Karnataka.

However, the most affected state is West Bengal, where no household surveys are being conducted at present.

“The 78th round began in a few places but the resistance started pouring in and safety of field officers became an issue. Surveyors were attacked and gheraoed. Even the district administrations said it was not the right time to conduct any survey,” a senior officer in West Bengal said.

The field office in West Bengal shared evidences in the form of photographs and newspaper articles with the expert committee that had met on Wednesday. “Initially we thought some questions related to migration are a source of concern. But people are getting spooked with basic questions such as name or religion,” the official explained.

In fact, surveys like the Seventh Economic Census, the periodic labour force survey, and the unorganised sector enterprises survey have also been halted in West Bengal, a state official said. Only those related to agriculture, industry and market price collection are taking place there.

The situation is no different in Bihar. A senior officer in Bihar averred that citizens see a co-relation with the survey questions and the CAA. And the fact that there are some questions related to residency and migration is adding to the trouble.

However, Chief Statistician Pravin Srivastava didn’t respond to questions by Business Standard.

So, what is the status at present?

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First Published: Fri, February 21 2020. 13:38 IST