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.
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.
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.