All About NPR: From Process To Protest

From the end of November till date in many parts of India, citizens are on the road protesting–first, it was for Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). It shifted to CAA along with National Register of Citizens (NRC) later on. Now, the focus is upon CAA plus NRC along with the National Population Register (NPR).

Betwixt all this, the Union Cabinet announced that it has allocated around Rs 3,500 crores for updating NPR. It was stated that the process shall begin from April 2020 and will be completed by September. This only made the situation worse as people fear to lose their citizenship and eventually leave their homeland due to all these Acts and Laws.

NPR was first conducted in 2010 and was later updated in 2015 when it was linked with the Aadhar. Confusion about National Population Register with Census, which is also due is prevailing as well.

Today let’s know more about NPR, Aadhar link and protest associated with all this.

What is NPR?

The National Population Register (NPR) is a register of the usual residents of the country. It contains information gathered at the local (village/sub-town), subdistrict, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

Who is a Usual Resident of India?

A “usual resident” here means–a person who has resided in a local area for the last six months or more or a person who intends to live in that area for the next six months or more.

The law compulsorily seeks to register all citizen of India and issue a national identity card.

Who will conduct NPR and what information will be collected?

The process of updating the National Population Register will be carried out under the observation of the Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner, India.

Objectives and Use

The objective of the NPR is to create a complete identity database of every usual resident in the country. In the words of officials, NPR data would help to identify the demographics of actual residents who would be direct beneficiaries of any schemes launched in the area. It would also help the government in the design and adapt schemes like Ayushman Bharat, Jandhan Yojna or other various programmes and plans. The database would contain demographic details such as:

  1. Name
  2. Relationship to head of household
  3. Father’s name
  4. Mother’s name
  5. Spouse’s name (if married)
  6. Sex
  7. Date of birth
  8. Marital status
  9. Place of birth
  10. Nationality (as declared)
  11. Present address of usual residence
  12. Duration of stay at current address
  13. Permanent residential address
  14. Occupation
  15. Educational qualification

These are some of the details which were collected in the previous NPR.

What all documents will be required for NPR?

During the process of NPR, a respondent will not be asked to produce any document. According to the statement given by Home Minister Amit Shah, the information collected for NPR will be self-attested, that is, whatever information is provided by the respondent will be assumed correct, and no documents or biometric would be needed.

When and where will NPR be Conducted?

The process of gathering information for the National Population Register is expected to start from April 2020 and assumed to be completed by September. NPR will be conducted pan-India, except Assam as the state has already gone through the NRC. The central government had published gazette notification for the forthcoming NPR in August.

What is the story of Aadhar?

During the ruling of UPA government led by Manmohan Singh, National Population Register and Aadhaar were considered as rival projects. When the National Population Register process began, P Chidambaram was the Union home minister, who pushed the population register project aggressively.

Aadhaar was taking shape with equal determination from then Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee (who later became the President of India — a development were Chidamabaram moving to the finance ministry and marked an end to NPR-Aadhaar rivalry).

Both the NPR and Aadhaar projects were undertaken concurrently, collecting demographic and biometric data. Initially, the objectives of both the projects were to have better, targeted delivery of benefits and services to people. However, the process of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the home ministry were viewed as duplication and wastage of resources.

The conflict ended in a settlement among the home ministry and the UIDAI where it was concluded that NPR and Aadhaar databases would be used for different purposes. Aadhaar will deliver welfare services, and NPR will be used for other purposes of governance.

Additionally, it was decided that those already enrolled for Aadhaar need not provide their biometric details during the NPR process. The NPR data were to be matched with Aadhaar data for de-duplication. However, the final formula gave NPR an upper hand, and it was agreed that in case of discrepancy between Aadhaar and NPR data, NPR would prevail.

So if you see, the National Population Register conducted under the Citizenship Amendment Act 2003 will form an essential data set for both Aadhaar and NRIC.

Protest in Bengal and other parts

As per government officials, the data for the National Population Register was first collected in 2010, and West Bengal was one of the five states that used the necessary information for planning various beneficiary schemes.

Keeping the previous experience in mind, many civil rights activists, mainly from Bengal, alleged that NPR is the first step towards NRC. The West Bengal government led by Mamata Banerjee opposed NRC, which was processed by BJP and put a halt on the NPR process as well. It is alleged that Bengal has over one crore infiltrators who have crossing over from Bangladesh over the decades.

After the BJP government led by Narendra Modi decided to update the NPR initially created after the Census 2011, the protest has gone a level up. By looking at the context of the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2003, the NPR may lead to an NRIC.

Here, the CAA 2019 act as a fuel to the blazing fire as critics alleged that the latest amendment would shield non-Muslim illegal immigrants while forcing a large number of Muslims stateless people with an ambiguous future.

The result of all these will be seen in by the end of 2020, as violent and silent protest prevails across India, we have to now see how the NDA government will implement the proposed laws and Acts.

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