MHA's NPR manual excludes Muslim holidays for reference point to estimate date of birth of those who don't know when they were born

  • In the instructions to enumerators, there is advice on how to help people who don’t know the exact details of their date of birth

  • Many possible scenarios are outlined and how, in each case, the enumerator should probe the matter

  • Conspicuously absent in the list of holidays and festivals, are any references to Muslim holidays in the entire year

In the midst of a raging opposition, all over the country, to the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA), the  Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in its recently-released Instruction Manual for Updation of NPR 2020 for Enumerators and Supervisors, has used only Hindu and Sikh religious festival holidays as a reference point for people who may not know their exact date of birth.

Conspicuously absent in the list of holidays and festivals, are any references to Muslim holidays in the entire year. The idea behind this reference is elaborated in the manual. In the instructions to enumerators, there is advice on how to help people who don’t know the exact details of their date of birth. Many possible scenarios are outlined and how, in each case, the enumerator should probe the matter.

The manual says, "Date of birth is one of the important items of information being collected in the NPR. In most of the cases, the date of birth of a person may be known. In case, the respondent does not know the exact date of birth, the same could be ascertained from documents such as birth certificate, school leaving certificate or any other relevant document like Aadhaar card, Voter ID card, PAN card, passport etc. In some cases, the horoscope (janampatri) may contain the date of birth in English or in the local language. In case it is written according to the local calendar, then you might have to convert the same into the English (Gregorian) calendar. In order to assist you, the conversion sheet is given in the Annex III." 

Annex III lists the years according to the English calendar and the corresponding local calendars ie Saka, Islamic, Vikram Samvat and Bengali.

 MHAs NPR manual excludes Muslim holidays for reference point to estimate date of birth of those who dont know when they were born

Representational image. Firstpost

In case only the year of birth is known, the manual advises a step-wise approach where first the enumerator will record the year of birth. Then the manual goes on: "If the informant tells only the year of birth but is not sure about the month of birth, ask whether the birth was before the rainy season or not. If the birth was before the rainy reason, you may further ask whether the birth was in the month during which some important festivals like New Year's Day, Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti, Makara Sankranti, Pongal, Republic Day, Basant Panchami, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Jayanti, Maha Shivratri, Holi, Gudi Padwa, Ramnavmi, Vaisakhi, Bihu, Mahabir Jayanti, Good Friday Budh Purnima are celebrated and estimate the month of birth. Similarly, if the birth was during or after the rainy reason, you may probe and estimate the month of birth by asking whether the birth was in the month during which some important festivals like Nagapanchami, Janamashtmi, Raksha Bandhan, Independence Day, Ganesh Chaturthi, Onam, Dussehra, Gandhi Jayanti, Diwali, Bhai Duj, Maharishi Valmiki Jayanti, Chhath Puja, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Ayyappa Festival, Christmas festival are celebrated. For your convenience, a list of important festivals and corresponding Gregorian months in which they fall is given at Annex V."

Annex V is a list of 30-odd important festivals/holidays corresponding to the English calendar. While Hindu and Sikh festival holidays, Christmas and Good Friday find a place, there is not a single Muslim holiday, when officially in India there are at least five national and regional holidays for Muharram, for Jamat ul Vida, Ramzan, for Bakri Id, for the birth of the Prophet and at least five more regional holidays in some states. Muslims follow the lunar calendar but that cannot be the reason to exclude the holidays as a reference point.

There is an "Indian" calendar (Paush, Magh, Phalgun, Chaitra, Vaisakh, Jyaishtha, Ashadha, Shravana, Bhadrapad, Ashwin, Kartik, Agrahayana) and corresponding English months to further assist enumerators in their quest for the correct date of birth in Annex IV. However, not all of India understands the months by these names.

The manual discusses some of the situations that an enumerator is likely to encounter while canvassing the question on date of birth of a person and gives possible solutions in the Annexes III to V.

And there is a cautionary note as well.  In the section "Nationality as declared", the manual says, "Nationality recorded is as declared by the respondent. This does not confer any right to Indian citizenship."

The manual says that the government has decided to update the NPR database along with House-listing and Housing Census phase of Census of India 2021 during April–September 2020. The National Population Register (NPR) of all the 'usual residents' in the country was created in 2010. The field work for NPR data collection was undertaken along with House-listing and Housing Census 2010. The electronic database of more than 119 crore usual residents of the country has already been created under NPR in English as well as the regional languages by collecting specific information of all usual residents.

Now according to the decision of the Government of India, the NPR database has been updated during 2015-16 in all States/UTs (except Assam and Meghalaya) to make a comprehensive resident database. The scheme for the creation of the NPR being undertaken under the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship Rules, 2003. The NPR will contain the details of all the usual residents of the country regardless of whether they are citizens or non-citizens of India.

However, for the first time, the  place of birth has been introduced and this is being seen as the yardstick to create doubts over the Indian citizenship of those who cannot prove where they were born. Besides, the CAA does not grant citizenship to Muslim from other countries specified in the Act on par with the other communities, fuelling protests that it is unconstitutional.

In response to a question on this issue, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a clarification saying that "…the same Annex was used while collecting data for Census 2011 and NPR 2010. This was also pre-tested for Census 2021 and NPR 2020. No adverse feedback on this Annex was ever received."

In its Clarification Regarding Annex V, the MHA said:

"There have been queries from general public with regard to Annex V 'Important Festivals corresponding to English/Gregorian Months' on page 32 of the NPR Manual 2020 for Enumerators and Supervisors. It has been observed that none of the Muslim festivals are mentioned in the list of Indian festivals in this Annex. In this regard, it is to be noted that this Annex V is to be read along with pages 15, 16, 17 of the manual which deals with Question No 5 on date of birth. The purpose of this Annex is to help the enumerators to approximate the month of birth of the respondent. Particular attention is invited to the following para at page 16:

c. Only year of birth is known: In such situations follow the step-wise approach stated below:

1. Record the year of birth.

If the informant tells only the year of birth but is not sure about the month of birth, ask whether the birth was before the rainy season or not. If the birth was before the rainy reason, you may further ask whether the birth was in the month during which some important festivals like New Year’s Day, Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti, Makara Sankranti, Pongal, Republic Day, Basant Panchami, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati Jayanti, Maha Shivratri, Holi, Gudi Padwa, Ramnavmi, Vaisakhi, Bihu, Mahabir Jayanti, Good Friday, Budh Purnima are celebrated and estimate the month of birth. Similarly, if the birth was during or after the rainy reason, you may probe and estimate the month of birth by asking whether the birth was in the month during which some important festivals like, Nagapanchami, Janamashtmi, Raksha Bandhan, Independence Day, Ganesh Chaturthi, Onam, Dussehra, Gandhi Jayanti, Diwali, Bhai Duj, Maharishi Valmiki Jayanti, Chhath Puja, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Ayyappa Festival, Christmas festival are celebrated. For your convenience, a list of important Festivals and corresponding Gregorian months in which they fall is given in Annex V.

ii. Also estimate the day in these cases appropriately and record the same in the space provided."

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Updated Date: Dec 30, 2019 17:50:16 IST