The Union Cabinet on Tuesday cleared Rs 3,941 crore funding for the National Population Register (NPR), a project once propelled by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) that has lately become controversial because it is the first step to create the contentious citizens’ register.
The Census Commission has said the objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every "usual resident" of the country. The database will have demographic details.
The decision was taken by the Cabinet at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to update the NPR, Union minister Prakash Javadekar announced at a cabinet briefing.
"The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to update the NPR. No one needs to give any proof. Everyone who lives in India will be included," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters.
Eleven states have so far declared that they will not implement the National Register of Citizens (NRC). But there is no clarity how they will block the citizens’ register which does not need to go to parliament for any more approvals.
The door-to-door survey for the population register coincides with the house-listing phase of Census 2021 and will be carried out between April and September 2020 in all states.
When census enumerators go from house to house to list all houses in the country, they will carry a second form for the NPR with them like they did in 2011.
Once they fill the house-listing form - which canvasses details about the house and the assets of the people staying in the place - they will be required to get people to respond to a set of between 14-20 questions.
It is mandatory under the law for people to respond to the population register questionnaire.
Below are the objectives, characteristics and differences between the NPR and the Census:
The National Population Register (NPR):
The NPR is a register of usual residents of the country. It is being prepared at the local (village/sub-town), subdistrict, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
A usual resident is defined, for the purposes of the 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. The law compulsorily seeks to register every citizen of India and issue a national identity card.
Which state is excluded?
The NPR exercise will be carried out between April and September 2020 in all states and UTs, except Assam, along with the house listing phase of the census exercise.
Assam has been excluded because the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise has already been conducted in the state.
What is the objective?
The objective of the NPR, being carried out under the aegis of the Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner, India, is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.
Demographic details of every individual are required:
The data for NPR was last collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of the Census 2011. Updating of this data was done during 2015 by conducting door to door survey.
A gazette notification for the forthcoming NPR has been published by the central government in August.
The decennial census is the largest single source of a variety of statistical information on different characteristics of the people of India conducted on the basis of the Census Act enacted in 1948.
The census, 2021 will be done in two phases. In the first phase, the work of house-listing or housing census will be conducted from April to September, 2020.
In the second phase, the enumeration of population will be done from February 9 to February 28, 2021 with reference moment as 00:00 hours of March 1, 2021.
For snow-bound areas in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the reference date will be October 1, 2020.
The census is the basis for reviewing the country's progress in the past decade, monitoring the ongoing schemes of the government and plan for the future.
The census provides detailed and authentic information on demography, economic activity, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, urbanisation, fertility and mortality, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, language, religion, migration, disability besides others.
The enumerators also collect data related to cultivators and agricultural labourers, their sex, occupational classification of workers in non-households industry, trade, business, profession or service by class of worker and sex.
There will be detailed survey on gender and literacy rate, number of towns, slum households and their population.
Information is also collected on sources of potable water, energy, irrigation, method of farming, whether a house is concrete, thatched or others.
With a history of more than 130 years, this reliable, time tested exercise has been bringing out a veritable wealth of statistics every 10 years, beginning from 1872 when the first census was conducted in India non-synchronously in different parts.
The government of India decided in May 1949 to initiate steps for developing systematic collection of statistics on the size of population, its growth, etc., and established an organisation in the Ministry of Home Affairs under Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner, India.
This organisation was made responsible for generating data on population statistics including vital statistics and census. Later, this office was also entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 in the country.
(With PTI inputs)