Citizens of India are currently in a dilemma as to what will happen to their citizenship? How the new Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR), and National Register of Citizen (NRC) will affect their life? Are NPR and NRC related? Is CAA associated with NPR? The answer is both yes and no. Amidst such confusion, there is a dirty political game going on the other side.
So today, let me help you clarify some of your doubts.
The citizens of our nation are defined, identified, verified, and distinguished from infiltrators based on three sets of laws: the Citizenship Act of 1955 (amended many times; the latest being the CAA 2019), the Foreigners Act of 1946 and the Passport Act of 1920.
So a person who is not able to fulfill the criteria mentioned in the above three laws is considered as an infiltrator; in other words, every non-Indian is an infiltrator unless he/she is a tourist or diplomat. India doesn’t have any specific law to define a refugee, and this creates many issues. Tibetans, Sri Lankan Tamils, and some other named groups of foreigners are refugees as the government of the day granted them that status.
According to the Foreign Act, the government is responsible for expelling the infiltrators or illegal immigrants out of India. Here a foreigner is defined as ”a person who is not a citizen of India.” Currently, there is no accurate number of how many infiltrators are residing in India. Estimating the same is more like guessing the number of rape happening. We know such heinous crime is happening, but exactly how many is still unknown. So it is even more important for identifying and distinguishing the natives and infiltrators.
Well, the confusion and chaos started when the current Modi led BJP government took the initiative to amend the Citizenship Act of India, which got the assent from the President of India on December 12, 2019. During the discussion on the CAA, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the government is planning for a nationwide NRC (National Register of Citizens).
The bitter experience of the Assam-specific NRC report, wherein more than 19 lakh people who claim to be Indian were left out including people who served in the army and who served as government officials. Amid this whole NRC exercise by the government even today there is no clarity as to how many illegal immigrants were identified in the exercise, which typically asked every resident to prove his/her Indian citizenship.
Now NPR is the issue
A fresh riot broke over NPR amidst the already unrest situation prevailing all over India about CAA and NRC. People were already on the street protesting over CAA, and NRC that turns violent every other day, causing many casualties and deaths.
NPR is the registration of residence of India–wherein it is proposed that this time the enumerator would collect demographic and biometric data of individuals living at the place of the register for six months or more. Already West Bengal and Kerala state government have rejected to conduct the same in their respective states.
Is CAA related to NPR?
The answer is both yes and no, as there is no direct link; however, there are speculation that it would depend on how the central government decides to utilise the data collected through NPR.
NPR, NRC, and CAA
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, which was passed by the Parliament of India in December 2003, and received presidential assent in January 2004 – when the Atal Bihari Vajpayee led BJP government was in power. In the amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955, Section 14A was included, which relates to the issue of national identity cards.
Section 14A of the Citizenship Act states that–“the Central Government may compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue a national identity card to him.”
It also affirms that–“the Central Government may maintain a National Register of Indian Citizens and for that purpose establish a National Registration Authority.”
NPR and NRC
NPR is a database of people living in India, citizens or not, but NRC is a database of Indian citizens. The NRC process demands proof of citizenship from the respondents, and respondents who are unable to produce the proof may face deportation or detention in the long run. However, in NPR, there is no need to provide any documents.
Difference between Census and NPR process?
The decennial Census is headcount in India involving a detailed questionnaire directed at collecting general data about the population of India.
In Census, the enumerator would collect details such as demography, economic activity, literacy and education, and housing and household amenities, and many more. The NPR process collects demographic and biometric details of individuals.
The Census is the source for reviewing the country’s progress in the past decade, monitoring the continuing schemes of the government, and plan for the future.
Census and NPR processes involve door-to-door enumeration, but NPR differs from the Census as its objective is to have a comprehensive identity database of those residing in India. The Census does not identify individuals.
Moreover, Census data are maintained centrally under the Registrar General of India. In case of NPR data, once recorded and ready, these details would be kept and maintained in a population register at levels of village or ward, tehsil or taluk (sub-district), district, and state. Together, they will constitute the National Population Register with all data at the central level.
Census 2021 is likely to differ as the government is planning to conduct the same through a mobile phone application.
Will anyone lose citizenship due to NPR?
As stated by Amit Shah, NPR and NRC are two different processes, and there is a possibility of missing names in the list of NPR. However, the citizenship of people will not be revoked because of NPR. He assured and made it clear that nobody will lose citizenship because of NPR.
— ANI (@ANI) December 24, 2019
There has been a lot of chaos already because of CAA, NRC and now NPR has been added to the list. The government officials should come forward to explain and address the issues to people who are unaware of the rules. I hope all such confusion comes to a logical end.