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India’s Census classes housewives unfairly
India’s Supreme Court has criticised the country’s Census for grouping housewives with prostitutes, beggars and prisoners in the survey’s “economically non-productive” category. The censure came as two justices agreed to increase the compensation awarded to a man whose wife died in an accident.

“This bias is shockingly prevalent in the work of Census,” Justice A K Ganguly said. “In the Census of 2001, it appears that those who are doing household duties like cooking, cleaning of utensils, looking after children, fetching water, collecting firewood have been categorised as non-workers and equated with beggars, prostitutes and prisoners who, according to Census, are not engaged in economically productive work.”

The court said that a wife’s management of household affairs and her care for her children cannot be compared with other professions. “A wife/mother does not work by the clock. She is in constant attendance of the family throughout the day and night unless she is employed and is required to attend the employer’s work for particular hours,” the court said.

“She takes care of all the requirements of husband and children including cooking of food, washing of clothes, etc. She teaches small children and provides invaluable guidance to them for their future life.” The Indian national Census takes place every ten years. The 2010 Census, which began in April, will cover 1.2 billion Indians, making it the biggest ever attempted.