India’s census: Michele Bachmann’s worst nightmare

Some fringier elements of the American right have lately come to the conclusion that the whopping ten questions on this year’s U.S. census constitute some sort of flagrant and sinister invasion of privacy. I can only image what Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck and co. would make of India’s planned "biometric census," which kicked off yesterday:  ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
571801_census2.jpg
571801_census2.jpg
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ELIZABETH ROCHE A census official (R) aids Indian President Pradibha Singh Patil (2 L) to record details of her and her family members on the launch day of the 2011 census at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi on April 1, 2010. About two and a half million officials have begun the task of collecting national population information across India's 650,000 villages and 5,500 towns and cities to record the chaotic South Asian nation's teeming billion-plus population. AFP PHOTO/RAVEENDRAN (Photo credit should read RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Some fringier elements of the American right have lately come to the conclusion that the whopping ten questions on this year's U.S. census constitute some sort of flagrant and sinister invasion of privacy. I can only image what Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck and co. would make of India's planned "biometric census," which kicked off yesterday: 

India is launching a new census in which every person aged over 15 will be photographed and fingerprinted to create a biometric national database.

The government will then use the information to issue identity cards.

Some fringier elements of the American right have lately come to the conclusion that the whopping ten questions on this year’s U.S. census constitute some sort of flagrant and sinister invasion of privacy. I can only image what Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck and co. would make of India’s planned "biometric census," which kicked off yesterday: 

India is launching a new census in which every person aged over 15 will be photographed and fingerprinted to create a biometric national database.

The government will then use the information to issue identity cards.

Officials will spend a year classifying India’s population of around 1.2 billion people according to gender, religion, occupation and education.

India’s interior minister says the census will be the largest in history. 

Kidding aside, this kind of census does seem a bit invasive to me and it will be interesting to see how much of a fuss Indian civil liberties groups raise over it. Surely there’s some middle ground between the Indian approach and the very minimal amount of information the U.S. government collects on its citizens. 

Hat tip: Chris Blattman

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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