Counting Heads In India

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More than 1 billion people of diverse cultures, languages and religions are united by India's national borders. Between 2010 and 2011, the country's census will not only count and categorize them by gender, religion and occupation, but also probe their access to technology, toilets and personal transport. In a monumental orchestration, aided by a newly designed census form, government departments, local councils and 2.5 million census collectors will continue the increasingly complex national effort to tally India’s inhabitants, which it has conducted every decade since the late 1800s.

What an enormous undertaking! 2.5 million census collectors and forms in 16 different languages! This article focuses on the challenges involved in designing a census form that is user-friendly to a huge and diverse population.

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