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Updated NPR form retains contentious questions

Context:

The latest form of the National Population Register (NPR) appears to have retained contentious questions such as “mother tongue, place of birth of father and mother and last place of residence”, according to a document compiled by a committee under the Registrar General of India.

Relevance:

GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Interventions, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of these policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is NPR?
  2. Proving Citizenship
  3. What is the NPR format of 2010?
  4. What does the updated manual of 2020 say?
  5. Concerns of the The Standing Committee on Ministry of Home Affairs tabled in its report on Demands for Grants (2020-2021)
  6. Response of the Government

What is NPR?

  • National Population Register (NPR) is a list of “usual residents of the country”.
  • “usual resident of the country” is one who has been residing in a local area for at least the last six months, or intends to stay in a particular location for the next six months.
  • The NPR is being prepared under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every “usual resident of India” to register in the NPR.
  • It will be conducted by the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Home Ministry.
  • The NPR database was first created in 2010. The NPR was last updated, except in Assam and Meghalaya, in 2015-16.

How is the NPR linked to the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?

  • Successive governments have said that the NPR is the mother database for “identity purposes”.
  • The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 mandates that particulars of “every family and individual” in the NPR would be used for verification in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process.

Proving Citizenship

  • The Local Registrar is empowered, during verification, to mark out the particulars of individuals whose citizenship is doubtful, with “appropriate remarks” for further enquiry.
  • The individual concerned has to then appear before the Sub-district or Taluk Registrar of Citizen Registration to prove he or she is a citizen before a formal decision is taken to include or to exclude their particulars in the National Register of Indian Citizens.
  • The onus to prove he or she is a citizen is entirely on the individual concerned.
  • Thus, the data collected through NPR becomes the crux for determining the citizenship of a person.

What is the NPR format of 2010?

  • Fifteen identity particulars of the individual members of the household are sought in the 2010 format.
  • These include name, relationship to the head of the household, sex, date of birth, marital status, educational qualification, occupation/activity, names of parents, place of birth (of everybody staying in the household at the time), nationality, present address of usual residence, duration of stay at the present address and permanent residential address.

What does the updated manual of 2020 say?

  • The NPR 2020 enumeration exercise will be undertaken during April–September this year.
  • Certain new information will be collected by enumerators in a house-to-house collection exercise such as Aadhaar, mobile, voter ID, passport and driving licence, if available with the residents on a voluntarily basis.
  • Unlike in the 2010 NPR, the new format for NPR 2020 requires residents to disclose their mother tongue and the places and dates of birth of their parents even if they are not living in the same household at the time or not alive.
  • Individuals have to disclose the districts and States of their parents’ birth.

Concerns of the The Standing Committee on Ministry of Home Affairs tabled in its report on Demands for Grants (2020-2021)

  • The Committee, on 18th February observed that there is a lot of dissatisfaction and fear among people regarding the upcoming NPR and Census.
  • The Committee feels these apprehensions should have been duly ventilated in the media. The MHA must consider some way out so that the Census goes smoothly.
  • The committee had enquired about the possibility of using Aadhaar database for updating NPR without undergoing fresh exercise to prevent duplication of efforts and expenditure.
  • West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Delhi have demanded that either the NPR be scrapped or the update be done using the 2010 form.

Response of the Government

  • The Union Home Ministry had informed a parliamentary panel that it proposes to collect details on additional questions such as “date and place of birth of parents” in the National Population Register (NPR) to “facilitate back-end data processing and making the data items of date and place of birth complete for all household[s]”.
  • In an indication that the government is reluctant to drop contentious questions from the National Population Register (NPR) form, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had told a Parliamentary standing committee that these questions were asked in the past as well and are necessary for back-end data processing.
  • Various welfare schemes of the State and Central governments are generally family-based, for which NPR data may be used
  • The government says linking the two will facilitate Aadhaar’s integration with other databases and help clean the various other databases.
  • The MHA says government-created databases such as Aadhaar, Voter ID, birth & death register, NPR, driving licence and passport may contain “many spurious and incorrect entries in databases”.
  • These databases, the ministry told the House panel, do not communicate with one another since there is no common identifier. “Collection of Aadhaar number (on voluntary basis), Voter ID, passport number and driving licence number during updation of NPR will facilitate communication among these databases, subject to the existing laws,” it said.
  • The Aadhaar number, the MHA reasons, can act as a common link among these large databases.

-Source: The Hindu

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