National Population Register (NPR)

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    In News 

    • 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.

    About 

    • The new questions were part of a trial exercise involving 30 lakh respondents in September 2019
    • The NPR schedule to be used in Census 2021 is given in Annexure X.
      • According to the Annexure: “National Population Register 2020”, the respondent will have to specify the “name of State and district” if the place of birth of father and mother is in India and mention the country’s name if not born here.

    National Population Register

    • About:
      • It is a Register of usual residents of the country. 
      • It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, 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.
      • NPR was first done in 2010 and was later updated in 2015 when it was linked with Aadhar.
      •  It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
        • A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.
      • The Registrar General India shall act as the “National Registration Authority”, it is also the country’s Census Commissioner.
    •  Present Status: 
      • The update of NPR and the first phase of the Census — the House listing & Housing Census were to be conducted simultaneously from April-September 2020 but the exercise was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New dates have not been announced yet.
    • Objective:
      • To create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.

    Significance 

    • NPR data helps identify the demographics of actual residents who will be direct beneficiaries of any schemes launched in the area.
      • The NPR data will help the government design and adapt schemes like Ayushman Bharat, Jandhan Yojna, or medium of instruction in schools as per the current demographics, thus making the schemes more effective.

    Why has it been opposed? 

    • Many Opposition-ruled States have opposed the updation of the NPR due to its link with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the yet to be implemented Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
      •  According to Citizenship Rules framed in the year 2003, NPR is the first step towards the compilation of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or NRC.
        • The CAA passed by the Parliament on December 11, 2019, allows citizenship on basis of religion to six undocumented communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. 
        • There are apprehensions and fears that the CAA followed by a country-wide NRC will benefit non-Muslims excluded from the proposed citizens’ register, while excluded Muslims will have to prove their citizenship. 
        • The government has denied that CAA and NRC are linked and that there are currently no plans to compile a countrywide NRC.

    Difference between NPR and NRC

    • The National Population Register is a database of people living in India including foreign citizens, but the National Register of Citizens is a database of Indian citizens.
      • The NRC process demands proof of citizenship from the respondents. Those who are found without the proof may face deportation or detention in the long run.
        • However, in NPR, there is no need to provide any documentation.

    NPR and the Census 

    • The process of NPR and Census will begin simultaneously, the two databases are not the same.
      • The decennial census is the largest single source of a variety of statistical information on the different characteristics of the people of India.
    • While NPR only contains demographic information, more details are required for the census like information on demography, economic activity, literacy and education, and housing and household amenities among others.

    What is the Census?

    • The Census is the enumeration of the population of the country.
    •  It is being conducted at an interval of 10 years. 
    • The Census 2021 will be the 16th census in the country since the first census happened in 1872. However, it will be the 8th census after Independence.
    • The census is the basis for reviewing the country’s progress in the past decade, monitoring the ongoing schemes of the government and planning for the future.
    • For the first time, the Census 2021 will use the Mobile App for data collection. It will also provide a facility to the public for self-enumeration.

    Source: TH