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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Letter to Editor - Census-2001 Report And Its Interpretation

Author(s): Dr. Pradeep Kumar

Vol. 29, No. 3 (2004-07 - 2004-09)


The recent release of 2001 census data on the basis of religion, its subsequent coverage in the media and the hue and cry that it generated forms an interesting case study in itself for the public health professionals. The basic principle that is taught to a medical student in epidemiology is "to compare the likes". In this particular instance the census data of 2001 was compared with the census data of 1991 and inferences were drawn and made available to the media ignoring the fact that the data pertaining to the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was not included in the 1991 census. It is well known that the demographic profile of J&K considerably differs from the rest of the country. The ensuing sensational debates and headlines in the media till its clarification by the Registrar General of India unnecessarily stirred the sensitive issue of "religion and politics". There have been unnecessary debates on ‘alarming’ growth rates of certain religious groups / sects. Essentially, present controversy reflects the hazards of comparing two non-comparable populations using wrong numerators and denominators, and drawing inferences from them and releasing them to the media without following the basic principles of epidemiology / statistics.

Dr. Pradeep Kumar
Associate Professor,
Medical College, Surat, Gujarat

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