What is National Population Register?
As defined by the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, the National Population Register (NPR) is a register of usual residents of the country. Governed by the provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, NPR is prepared right from the grassroots level from the local (village/sub-town), sub-district, district, state to the national level.
Anyone "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 or more", is eligible to be a part of the NPR. As per the laws, 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 six months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months or more.
The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 says "'Population Register' means the register containing details of persons usually residing in a village or rural area or town or ward or demarcated area (demarcated by the Registrar General of Citizen Registration) within a ward in a town or urban area."
In a Gazette notification on 31 July 2019, the government said, "In pursuance of sub-rule (4) of rule 3 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, the Central Government hereby decides to prepare and update the Population Register and the field work for house to house enumeration throughout the country except Assam for collection of information relating to all persons who are usually residing within the jurisdiction of Local Registrar shall be undertaken between the 1st day of April, 2020 to 30th September, 2020."
The NPR seeks to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country which will have demographic as well as biometric particulars.
In NPR, the following demographic details of every individual will be included:
• Name of person
• Relationship to head of household
• Father’s name
• Mother’s name
• Spouse’s name (if married)
• Date of Birth
• Marital status
• Place of birth
• Nationality (as declared)
• Present address of usual residence
• Duration of stay at present address
• Permanent residential address
• Educational qualification
Ahead of the Census 2011, the data for NPR was collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of the Census. This data was again updated in 2015 by conducting door to door survey. The next phase of updation will now take place along with the houselisting process of Census 2021 during April to September 2020 in all the States/UTs except for the state of Assam.
What is the National Register of Indian Citizens?
The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, defines National Register of Indian Citizens as "the register containing details of Indian Citizens living in India and outside India".
Long before the Supreme Court ordered for the National Register of Citizens, 1951, to be updated in Assam in 2015, the Central Government under prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had through the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, prepared the groundwork to initiate the process of a nationwide NRC.
It says: "The Central Government shall, for the purpose of National Register of Indian Citizens, cause to carry throughout the country a house-to-house enumeration for collection of specified particulars relating to each family and individual, residing in a local area including the Citizenship status."
Called National Register of Indian Citizens, which differentiates it from the NRC process in Assam, the Act mandates that "The Registrar General of Citizen Registration shall establish and maintain the National Register of Indian Citizens."
Sub-rule 2 under Rule 2 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, says that "The National Register of Indian Citizens shall be divided into sub-parts consisting of the State Register of Indian Citizens, the District Register of Indian Citizens, the Sub-district Register of Indian Citizens and the Local Register of Indian Citizens and shall contain such details as the Central Government may, by order, in consultation with the Registrar General of Citizen Registration, specify."
As per the law, the National Register of Indian Citizens shall contain the following particulars of the citizens:
• Father's name
• Mother's name
• Date of birth
• Place of birth
• Residential address (present and permanent)
• Marital status and if ever married, name of the spouse
• Visible identification mark
• Date of registration of Citizen
• Serial number of registration; and
• National Identity Number
What is Census?
According to the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India, "Population Census is the total process of collecting, compiling, analyzing or otherwise disseminating demographic, economic and social data pertaining, at a specific time, of all persons in a country or a well-defined part of a country. As such, the census provides a snapshot of the country's population and housing at a given point of time."
The role of the census is to provide "information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country's population".
In terms of usage, "the data collected through the census are used for administration, planning and policymaking as well as management and evaluation of various programmes by the government, NGOs, researchers, commercial and private enterprises, etc. Census data is also used for demarcation of constituencies and allocation of representation to Parliament, State Legislative Assemblies and the local bodies."
While the researchers and demographers use census data to analyse growth and trends of population, business houses and industries use the data for strengthening and planning their business for penetration into areas, which had hitherto remained, uncovered.
The Census Act, 1948, mandates that "The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare its intention of taking a census in the whole or any part of the territories to which this Act extends, whenever it may consider it necessary or desirable so to do and thereupon the census shall be taken."
Apart from location particulars of a household, the Census will have the following details of individuals:
1. Name of the person
2. Relationship to head
4. Date of birth and age
5. Current marital status
6. Age at marriage
8. Scheduled Caste (SC)/Scheduled Tribe (ST)
10. Mother tongue
11. Other languages known
12. Literacy status
13. Status of attendance in educational institution
14. Highest educational level attained
15. Worked any time during last year
16. Category of economic activity
18. Nature of industry, trade or service
19. Class of worker
20. Non-economic activity
21. Seeking or available for work
22. Travel to a place of work
24. Place of last residence
25. Reason for migration
26. Duration of stay in this village/town since migration
27. Children surviving
28. Children ever born
29. Number of children
Key differences between the National Population Register and National Register of Indian Citizens and Population Census
Although all the three processes involve nearly the same procedure to collect data of citizens, there are differences among the three in terms of details enclosed, and the purpose of use.
While the Census offers a snapshot of the country's population and, the NPR seeks more details from a person, including a self-declaration of nationality and biometrics.
The NPR, therefore, can be used to determine the nationality of an individual. However, as in the Census, the authenticity of NPR data depends entirely on the honesty of the person surveyed. However, it's important to state that in the past the government collected biometrics and Aadhaar number interchangeably while collecting NPR details, to prevent duplication of data.
The NPR can be called a precursor to a nationwide NRC as the law mandates that the Central government may "decide a date by which the Population Register shall be prepared by collecting information relating to all persons who are usually residing within the jurisdiction of Local Registrar".
Now, unlike NPR, the NRC contains details of persons only after "due verification made from the population register" (the NPR in this case). The verification is done as per a process laid down by the government and may require submitting of documents as was seen in Assam.
The link between NRC and NPR was finds mention in several govt documents, including in a Press Information Bureau release from 26 November, 2014, which stated, "The National Population Register (NPR) is a register of all the usual residents which include citizens and non-citizens as well. The NPR is the first step towards creation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) by verifying the citizenship status of every usual residents."
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Updated Date: Dec 25, 2019 10:42:35 IST