New NPR Format, the Controversy Returns

Recently, a document which was compiled by a committee under the Registrar- General of India, shared with the District Census Officers. Soon it was realised that this included the latest form of the National Population Register (NPR). Under the new format, several questions have been retained, such as ” place of birth of father and mother, mother tongue, and last place of residence”, which begin the debate for the necessity of this initiative.

What is NPR?

NPR stands for National Population Register, which is a pan-India exercise excluding Assam. It will seek information regarding the date & place of birth of a usual resident’s mother and father and his/her identity details like Aadhaar, passport, driving licence & voter ID declared by respondent & no proof or supporting documents will be sought.

A ‘usual resident’ is defined as a person who has resided in an area for the past six months or more or intends to reside in that area for the next six months. Data will be recorded as declared by the respondent, and no proof or supporting documentation will be sought.

Sharing Aadhaar, passport,driving licence & voter ID details will be voluntary. PAN details won’t be sought. No biometrics will be collected during NPR. However, the same can be sourced from UIDAI if required based on Aadhaar

NPR was last prepared in 2010 along with Census 2011, followed by updates in 2015.

Updated NPR

the new questions were part of a trial exercise involving 30 lakh respondents in September 2019. This exercise has been opposed by some States and citizen groups as the NPR is the first step toward the compilation of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRC) according to Citizenship Rules, 2003.

“Along with Census 2021, the database of NPR collected in 2010 and updated in 2015 would be further updated in the first phase of the Census. The NPR schedule to be used in Census 2021 is given Annexure X,” the document says. So far, the Government has not officially released the schedule for NPR.

According to the Annexure: “National Population Register 2020, the respondent will have to specify the following details:

  • The name of state and district if the place of birth of father and mother is in India,
  • Mention the country’s name if not born here,
  • include passport number,
  • relationship to head of the family,
  • whether divorced/ widowed or separated,
  • mother tongue,
  • if non-worker, cultivator, labourer, government employee, daily wage earner, among others.
  • The form also has the column on Aadhaar, mobile phone, voter ID and driving licence number, which is to be provided with the respondent.
  • The form will collect details on 14 parameters of all family members

The document says that the objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database pf every usual resident in the country, and it is “mandatory” for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR. While similar data is collected through Census, all individual-level information collected in Census is confidential and ‘only aggregated data are released at various administrative levels, in accordance to Section 15 of the Census Act, 1948,

The Home Ministry said earlier that data collected under NPR are shared with States and used by the Central Government for various well-fare schemes at the individual level. The NPR already has an electronic database of more than l19 crore residents.

Along with Census, NPR will also be updated digitally for the first time. A mobile application for enumerators has been developed where the existing database will be uploaded.  Respondents can also self-enumerate.

The schedule or the form generated through an online system on August 18 is part of a handbook that has been shared with all States.

Census Vs Npr

What is NPR?

It is an identity database of residents. It does not offer the right to claim citizenship.

Is privacy guaranteed under NPR?

Privacy is not offered formally. The data covered under NPR is available for government use.

Is NPR linked to NRC?

The home minister says no. But a 2018-19 govt report says NPR is the first step towards the creation of NRC.

How is NPR different from Census?

Census is a primary source of socio-economic and demographic data, which is shared as aggregates.

How will Government use NPR?

NPR will be used for identifying beneficiaries for welfare programmes, like in the case of Ujjwala.

Does NPR have any links to CAA?

No. CAA is meant to grant citizenship to non-Muslims fleeing Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.