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Mixed reports on Census 2011, apprehensions rife on disability being undercounted

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: As the world‘s largest enumeration exercise was undertaken from February 9 to 28 across India, there have been mixed reports from people with disabilities and families where enumerators have not asked the question on disability or, in some cases, enumerators not turning up at institutions housing hundreds of children/people with disabilities. This has fuelled fears that disability would go under reported in this Census as well.

In reports coming in from Punjab, several institutions like Red Cross Residential School in Maqsuda; Guru Nanak Nethraheen Ashram, Phagwara; Central Yatimkhana, Amritsar and several other such institutions housing hundreds of children/people with disabilities were not even enumerated.

At several other places, enumerators asked all the questions except that on disability. When alert stakeholders confronted them on why question number 9 was skipped, some enumerators sheepishly filled up the data and some said that this question was too sensitive to be asked!

Dr. Thara R., Director, Schizophrenia Research Foundation, Chennai wrote to us saying the enumerator who came to her house did not ask the question on disability. When Dr. Thara confronted her, the enumerator said she did not feel the need to ask the question and had already marked all the household members as non-disabled!

“If this is happening in urban Chennai, what will be the scenario in remote, rural areas? What is the validity of this whole exercise as far as enumeration of disabled people goes?” Dr. Thara asked.

Although, there appears to be greater awareness among people with disabilities about the importance of Census, apprehensions are still rife that the margin of error in the enumeration process, especially when it comes to enumeration of people with disabilities, will be far too high.