National Population Register & its linkage with National Register of Citizens

Published: December 26, 2019

The Central Government has approved the National Population Register (NPR) for over Rs 3900 crore. It comes in the backdrop of the protests over the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens. The NPR is being viewed as the first step towards the NRC.

What is the National Population Register ?

It is a list of the ‘usual residents of the country’. A usual resident is one who has been residing in area for the last six months or intends to stay at a place for the next six months. It is however not an enumeration of citizens, as it would also record foreigners staying in a particular place for the period of six months. This is the difference between NPR and NRC, which includes only identifying Indian citizens.

The NPR is being prepared under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship Rules (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity cards) 2003. Assam has been excluded as the state recently completed the NRC exercise. It will be conducted at the local, sub-district, district, state and national levels. NPR will be conducted in sync with the house listing phase of the census by the office of registrar general in 2021. Final enumeration will begin in April 2020 and end in the month of September.

Connection between NPR and NRC

The Citizenship Act empowers the government to register every citizen and maintain a register of Indian citizens. It is not necessary that the NRC must follow NPR. After a list is created, a NRC, if it takes place, could verify the citizens from the list. However the government has mentioned that no proposal is present to conduct a NRC exercise based on NPR data. Though there have been statements linking the NPR and NRC in the past.

Data privacy controversy

There has been debate about privacy with many details of residents being collected. NPR is will host identity such as Aadhar, voter card and passport. It will collect demographic and biometric data (based on Aadhar). The NPR 2020 will collect 21 data points, which includes a contentious point on the ‘date & place of birth of parents’

The first NPR

The first project was put in motion in 2009. It was compared with the Aadhar project, as which would be suit for transferring government benefits to people. It was NPR which was pushed forward as it connected every NPR resident to the Census. The first NPR data was collected in 2010 with house listing being done for the Census 2011.

With the a new government in 2014, it was Aadhar which was picked for transfer of government benefits while the NPR was put on the back seat.

Government & Data collection

With concerns about privacy, the government seeks to create a comprehensive identity database of resident Indias. Secondly, it will help to eliminate duplicates and cut down on red-tape, as with NPR data, residents will not have to finish various details and identity proofs.

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