ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Telangana Survey and the Question of Privacy

The statewide Intensive Household Survey conducted in Telangana is similar to many such surveys carried out in undivided Andhra Pradesh. The data collected and used by state and non-state parties have political implications. One is of "data convergence", that is, intelligence about individuals that can be gathered by overlaying two or more data sets. The other is of "data travel", that is, the ability of many agents to access the data. In the absence of any safeguards, the conduct of the IHS and its emotionally charged context must be a matter of concern.

The government of the newly formed state of Telangana organised a one-day household survey across the state on 19 August which was titled “Samagra Kutumba Survey” or state-wide Intensive Household Survey (IHS). The massive exercise attracted national attention. The Ministry of Home Affairs reportedly kept tabs on the exercise.

The Telangana government was accused of mala fide intention by several groups. While some were worried about being marked as “non-natives”, many simply found it challenging to be at “home” to claim nativity. The anxieties largely centred on the timing and the manner in which the survey was conducted and the uses to which the data could be put. It was mainly suspected that the state was attempting to determine the nativity of individuals to deny state benefits and potentially persecute those identified as non-natives, specifically families who migrated to the region from other districts in the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh.

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