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Teacher and enumerator, a tough twin job

Aloysius Xavier Lopez
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Explaining questions consumes time

Members of a household in Triplicane provide information for the Census 2011 on Wednesday. Photo: K.V.Srinivasan
Members of a household in Triplicane provide information for the Census 2011 on Wednesday. Photo: K.V.Srinivasan

Enumerator P.Vanitha had to spend 40 minutes to collect information from the family of K.S. Raja in Triplicane on Wednesday, which was the first day of the enumeration phase of Census 2011. Mr. Raja said that he had no time to spare but he was doing it as a responsible citizen. By the time the enumerator completed four such ‘Census of India 2011 Household Schedules,' and reached her Chennai Middle School nearby, she was late for the afternoon session of school.

She says that juggling the two responsibilities as teacher and enumerator is not easy. Over 70 per cent of the 7,350 enumerators and 1,150 supervisors in Chennai are teachers like her.

“Explaining the 29 questions to residents and eliciting responses consumes more time. When we seek information, residents also ask for more details. I have to cover 220 houses this census and I have been able to complete only four houses on the first day,” Ms. Vanitha said, adding that the task was interesting.

“Some of the residents were not able to provide complete information and we have been asked to come another day to get information from other family members. Those schedules remain incomplete,” she added.

Teachers at many schools had to handle more than two classes simultaneously because of the census. “A government-aided school with eight teachers had to function with just two teachers on Wednesday as most of the teachers were on census duty or SSA training,” said an SSA coordinator who did not want to be named.

“Schools had no teaching sessions. There were only storytelling sessions,” he added.

“Some of the residents in slum localities ask for money when enumerators approach them for information for the census. Such people think that the information is collected to give them freebies,” said V. Bhuvaneshwaran, a charge officer.

“The enumerators had to spend most of the time explaining them the importance of the census to such residents. Convincing them and eliciting responses have been very tough,” he adds.

“Identifying houses without proper door number is another problem for the enumerators. So we have to help the enumerators find the houses as we know every street in the locality,” says G. Bhaskar, a junior engineer of Chennai The first day of Census 2011 had only around 10 calls on 1913 helpline pertaining to the census. However, those residents too were not able to get appropriate guidance as the brochures with relevant details were yet to reach the 1913 operators.

V.Gnanam, a resident of Triplicane, said she did not know much about the census and she became more aware only after the visit of the enumerator.

Getting information on disability was the trickiest for enumerators, says N. Ramesh Babu, a supervisor. Particularly, when the disability was mental retardation or mental illness, residents were not willing to share such information.

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