Chronicles of CAA, NPR & NRC

Union Cabinet gave a nod to Rs. 3,900 crore budget for National Population Register (NPR) that will enlist all the ‘usual residents‘ of India through an updated questionnaire. The concern is whether this is the first step towards a nation-wide NRC, while the Home Minister Amit Shah has persistently denied any linkages of NPR and NRC.

Crux of the Matter

Origin of NPR
As far as the history of National Population Register (NPR) goes, the UPA government initiated the NPR in 2010 as a vehicle that would connect residents to each household, making the transfer of government benefits to citizens much efficient. The NDA government put NPR behind and brought AADHAAR as a vehicle to meet the same purpose through digitisation.

Revised NPR
NPR is a nation-wide activity to enlist demographic and biometric data of all the Indian residents who have stayed in the country for the last 6 months and who intend to stay in the country for the coming 6 months. NPR drive will take place along with the house-listing phase, the first phase of the Census 2021. The 2010 NPR questionnaire contained 15 questions, whereas the updated one contains 21 questions. Of the added questions, the question seeking ‘Date and Place of Birth of Parents‘ has created a controversy that NPR is the first step towards NRC.

Why NPR?
The ruling party has stated two reasons on why they want the data through NPR:
1. A comprehensive database of citizens is necessary to enhance national security and transfer of government benefits.
2. To club the different identity cards into a single document, most preferably a digital, so as to avoid data mismatch.

Apprehension over NPR
Amidst the chaos and confusion over CAA-NRC implications, the announcement of NPR came soon after PM Modi announced that NRC would not be conducted. Moreover, the stance on how and where the government will use the collected data is ambiguous and that has led to apprehension that NPR is the first step towards the ruling party’s agenda. While the previous government could also have had run a nation-wide NRC, Citizenship Act had not been amended then. As a part of the speculations, the amended clause of the CAA has sparked a debate on whether through the process of NPR and NRC, the CAA filter would result in the exclusion of the Muslim population that cannot produce documents. The government has repeatedly tried to downplay these apprehensions and reassure the masses.

Curiopedia

The National Population Register (NPR) is a list of all the people residing in India and includes both the citizens and non-citizens as well. This definition is based on the statement by the Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju as a response in the Rajya Sabha that was released on 26 November 2014 by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. It stated that “the NPR is the first step towards creation of National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) by verifying the citizenship status of every usual residents.” It is prepared as per the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship Rules, 2003. The listing is done at the local, sub-district, district, state and national level. Every “usual resident of India” has to register in the NPR mandatorily. According to the Citizenship Rules, 2003, the centre can issue an order to prepare the NPR and create the NRC based on the data gathered in the NPR. More Info

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