The centre has undertaken to update the National Population Register (NPR) alongside the census exercise
The Union Cabinet today approved a proposal to update the National Population Register (NPR), which is linked to the Census. The exercise will cost Rs 8,500 crore, the government said. The Census Commission has said the objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every “usual resident” of the country. A “usual resident”, for the NPR, is a person who has lived in an area for at least six months or more, or a person who intends to live in an area for the next six months or more. It is mandatory for every “usual resident” of India to register in the NPR.
The NPR exercise will be carried out between April and September 2020 in all states and Union Territories, except Assam, along with the house-listing phase of the census exercise. Assam has been excluded because the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise has already been conducted in the state.
The demographic details of every individual are required for every usual resident: name, relationship to head of household, father’s name, mother’s name, spouse’s name (if married), sex, date of birth, marital status, place of birth, nationality (as declared), present address of usual residence, duration of stay at present address, permanent residential address, occupation, educational qualification.
The NPR is a register of “usual residents” linked with particulars of location such as village/town, sub-district, district and state. Previously conducted in 2010 and 2015, it was authorised by the UPA government in 2004 after an amendment to the 1955 Citizenship Act.
The amendment allowed the centre to “compulsorily register ever citizen of India and issue (a) national identity card” and has been described as a routine process meant to supplement the forthcoming census exercise and help improve delivery of benefits offered under the government’s various welfare schemes, such as Ayushman Bharat and Jan Dhan Yojana. The data will also be provided to state governments.
The centre has stressed that no biometric data will be collected during the NPR exercise and that submission of details like Aadhaar and passport number will be voluntary. The centre has also stressed the NPR has no connection to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise carried out in Assam earlier this year that resulted in 19 lakh people being excluded.
However, since the NPR is being seen by many as the first step towards a nationwide NRC; Home Minister Amit Shah has stressed on a national rollout. An NPR doesn’t guarantee an NRC exercise but it does clear the way for one, which is one reason why some states – like Bengal and Kerala – that are opposed to the NRC have halted work on the NPR.
In 2000, under the NDA government headed by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Kargil Review Committee recommended compulsory registration of citizens and non-citizens in the country. The recommendations were accepted in 2001 and the Citizenship (Registration and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules was passed in 2003.
Between 2003 and 2009, both the UPA and NDA governments implemented a pilot project in select border areas to understand complexities involved in preparation of a population register. National rollout began under the UPA government in 2006. Based on the experience of the pilot project, a proposal was presented to the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) that envisaged upscaling of pilot project to a national level.
Between 2009 and 2011 NPR was carried out in coastal areas. After the Mumbai terror attacks it was used as a measure to enhance security; a coastal NPR saw the preparation of a resident database and Resident Identity Cards were issued to 65.50 lakh residents. s capture of biometrics was also added.
The database was updated once more in 2015-2016, except for Assam and Meghalaya in which few data fields were updated in the field by the appointed enumerators.
With input from PTI
What Is National Population Register To Be Updated By Centre: 10 Points
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