Civil Registration System in India
The history of Civil Registration System (CRS) in India dates back to the middle of the 19th century. In 1886 a Central Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act was promulgated to provide for voluntary registration throughout British India.

Post-independence, the Registration of Births and Death Act (RBD Act) was enacted in 1969 to promote uniformity and comparability in the registration of Births and Deaths across the country and compilation of vital statistics based thereon. With the enactment of the Act, registration of births, deaths and still births has become mandatory in India. The Registrar General, India (RGI) at the Central Government level coordinates and unifies the activities of registration throughout the country. However, implementation of the statute is vested with the State Governments. The registration of births and deaths in the country is done by the functionaries appointed by the State Governments. Directorate of Census Operations are the sub-ordinate offices of Office of the Registrar General, India and these offices are responsible of monitoring of working of the Act in their concerned State/UT.

The Act mandates the use of uniform birth and death reporting forms and certificates throughout the country.

In 19 States the Chief Registrars are from the Health Department; in 12 States from the Department of Economics and Statistics and in the remaining 4 States it is the Department of Local Government. An Inter Departmental Co-ordination Committee (IDCC) has been formed in every State to oversee the registration work within State. At the District level, similar coordination committees have been formed.

The RGI has notified the Directors of Census Operations as Joint Registrar Generals and Joint/Deputy Directors of the Directorates as Assistant Registrar Generals under the RBD act, 1969 to discharge the functions in carrying out the following activities under supervision of the RGI:
  1. i) Co-ordination with the State Government on behalf of the RGI,
  2. ii) Monitoring of implementation of various provisions of the RBD Act, 1969,
  3. iii) Publicity on importance of birth and death registration at the local level,
  4. iv) Providing assistance to the Chief Registrars for conduct of training to the registration functionaries working under the system of Civil Registration and for preservation and maintenance of legal CR records,
  5. v) Modernization of registration system in the State by way of computerization,
  6. vi) Monthly meeting with the Chief Registrars,
  7. vii) To ensure monthly meetings at district level,
  8. viii) Regular inspections of Registration Units under the system of Civil Registration, at least once in a month.

Levels of Registration of Births and Deaths (LOR)

"Level of Registration" is defined as the number of events (birth, death, still birth) registered in a given area per hundred of the events available for registration in that area during the year. It describes the extent to which registration of such event in that area is complete.

As per the registration data from CRS for the year 2012, the level of registration at the national level is 84.4% for Birth and 69.3% for Death. 17 States/UTs have achieved cent per cent registration levels for births; 9 States/UTs have reached a level ranging between 80-99% and the remaining 9 States/UTs have reported a level of birth registration in the range of 50-80%. In the case of deaths, 8 States/UTs have achieved cent percent; 9 States/UTs have achieved a level ranging between 80-99%, 13 States/UTs are in the range of 50-80% and the remaining 5 States/UTs are below 50%.

The vital statistics are invaluable for planning, monitoring and evaluating various programmes related to primary health care, family planning, maternal and child health, education and so forth. Vital statistics are also used for demographic purposes such as preparation of population estimates and projections, studies of mortality, fertility and construction of life tables.

Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCD)

The scheme of Medical Certification of Cause of Death (MCCD) under the registration of Births and Deaths (RBD) ACT, 1969 provides on causes of death, a prerequisite to monitoring health trends of the population. Data received in prescribed forms are tabulated as per the National List of Causes of Death based on Tenth Revision of International Classification of Disease (ICD- 10).

As per the Annual Report on "Medical Certification of Cause of Death" for the year 2011, out of the total registered deaths of 48,29,664 in 27 States/UTs, a total of 9,65,992 deaths (5,95,784 Males and 3,70,208 Females) have been reported to be medically certified.

The coverage of MCCD is limited to selected hospitals in urban area. Steps are taken by the states to expand the scope of MCCD to all the medical institutions.

  • Uniform Software Application for Registration of Births and Deaths: A software application for online and offline registration of birth and death has been developed. This application covers the entire gamut of the Civil Registration System : Registration of events, Generation of certificates and Generation of Statistical Tables and Reports. The application that is presently available in English is being customized in 13 Indian languages.
  • Database of Institutions: A nationwide database of medical Institutions has been prepared. This comprehensive database has the address, telephone numbers and other contact details of the institutions where events occur. The plan is to electronically monitor the registration of events occurring in these institutions through an ICT enabled platform.
  • Application to Monitor Institutional Events: An SMS based application called "Event Monitoring System for Registration" has been developed and is currently under pilot testing. This application attempts to track the events at the level of institutions and ensure their registration.
  • Capacity Building of Registrars: A standard training manual has been developed for training the registration functionaries in 13 languages. Regular training of registration functionaries has been introduced by providing financial assistance to the State Governments.
  • Data digitization: Project to keep old records in easy to retrieve digital form has been started. This will help in storage of registers in electronic format and allow easy access to the records.
  • Advocacy and Publicity: An intensive multi-modal publicity and awareness campaigns on birth and death registration is already underway. Plans are being formulated to expand this campaign in all regional languages in order to increase the coverage of the CRVS system.
  • Demand Generation: Creating a policy environment for demand generation for birth and death registration is one of the basic needs identified by a National task force set up for the strengthening the CRVS. As per its recommendations, the Registration of events has been linked to various welfare schemes of the Government.
  • National Population Register: India is in the process of setting up a National Population Register (NPR-2010). The Civil Registration System has been linked to the NPR.
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© 2011 -The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India