All you need to know about the National Population Register

Updated: Dec 26, 2019, 15:17 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

As many as 10 states have declared that they will not implement NPR.

Women display placards during a protest against the National Register of Citizen (NRC) and citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), in Bengaluru. Picture/PTI
Women display placards during a protest against the National Register of Citizen (NRC) and citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), in Bengaluru. Picture/PTI

Amidst the controversy regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Registry of Citizens (NRC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday approved the allocation for the National Population Register (NPR) to be conducted during the 2021 Census. Here is what the NPR is all about:

What is NPR?

The NPR is a register of usual residents of the country. A usual resident is defined, for the purposes of the NPR, as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more, or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months. The NPR will be updated along with house listing and housing census from April to September 2020.

The NPR was prepared in 2010 under the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and Citizenship Rules, 2003, which was subsequently updated in 2015 by seeding it with Aadhaar. As the NPR allows  including a foreigner who has been staying in the country for six months, it is not a drive for citizen enumeration. NRC, if implemented, avails one with a citizenship card with a unique identity number.

War of words

As many as ten states have declared that they will not implement NPR. According to media reports, the ten states are Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh, West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. The NPR has also become a topic of debate topic resulting in a heated exchange of among the senior members of the ruling party and opposition members. Former union finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram slammed the NPR calling it "dangerous", terms of the "text and context" of the data collection done in 2010. Charging that the BJP government has a "sinister agenda", he said if the BJP's motives are bonafide, the Government should unconditionally state that they support the NPR form and design of 2010 and do not intend to link it to the controversial NRC.

On the other hand, Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Thursday slammed the opposition parties for allegedly misleading people and trying to create a divisive environment in the country over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Population Register (NPR). "They were first opposing the citizenship act, then they started a fake and fabricated narrative on National Register of Citizens (NRC) and now they are raising questions on NPR. Their intention is to mislead people and create a divisive environment in the country for political gains," Naqvi told ANI.

Naqvi also asserted that the opposition parties are misleading people and spreading fake news because they are running out of credible issues to target the Central government, adding that the amended citizenship law is to grant citizenship to the persecuted minorities in the neighbouring countries.

What people can take from NPR?

Home ministry officials said that the NPR will have credible data of every family and individual, strengthen the national security and can be used for transparent and efficient delivery of social benefits, officials said on Tuesday. During the NPR exercise, no documents will be collected at the time of door to door enumeration. During updating of the NPR, no biometric data will be collected from citizens. The aim is to create a credible register of every family and individual and improve the delivery mechanism of benefits under various government schemes and programmes, officials said.

By linking the NPR with the registration of birth and death, real-time population register will be available leading to register-based census in the future, they said. The data can be used for transparent and efficient delivery of social benefits by linking it with various beneficiary oriented government schemes, they said. The benefits could be obtained in banking, insurance services, admission in school, colleges and hostels, scholarship, distribution of seed, fertiliser, pesticide, marketing credit, registration of land, property, shares, health and medical services, public distribution system, gender issues, child marriage, marital status, maintenance of separated women. The government will get data on employment, disaster management, disability, old age pension and freedom fighter.

Another official said the socio economic caste census (SECC) is based on the NPR data, which was subsequently used for deciding different types of beneficiaries. Household wise NPR data was used in better targeting of schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, Jan Dhan Yojana, Prime Minister Awas Yojna, Ujjwala Yojana, Saubhagya etc.

The data for NPR was last collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of the Census 2011. Updating of this data was done during 2015 by conducting door to door survey. A gazette notification for the forthcoming NPR has been published by the central government in August.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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