Do you know the difference between the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?
Recently, there have been at least 4 confusing words in the news connected with citizenship and identity.
They are (1) National Population Register (NPR) (2) the National Register of Citizens (NRC) (3) Aadhaar (UID) (4) Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB)
However, there are not many who know the conceptual difference between the terms.
We, in this article, try to explain the concepts in layman’s terms.
National Population Register (NPR)
The National Population Register (NPR) is a register of the usual residents of the country.
A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.
It is mandatory for every resident of India to register in the NPR.
It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-town), sub-district, District, State, and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship Rules, 2003.
The database under the NPR will be maintained by the Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner of India, Ministry of Home Affairs.
The NPR database contains demographic as well as biometric details.
As per the provisions of the NPR, a resident identity card (RIC) will be issued to individuals over the age of 18. This will be a chip-embedded smart card with the UID number (Aadhaar) printed.
In India, NPR was prepared along with the Census 2011. It was updated in 2015.
The new and latest NPR is planned to be conducted across India (except Assam) between April 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020, along with the next census enumeration.
NPR is not a citizenship enumeration drive; it would also include a foreigner staying in an area for more than six months.
NPR is the prelude to the NRC.
National Register of Citizens (NRC)
NRC is a verified digital register having names and basic demographic information about all Indian citizens in a digital format.
A person born in India or having Indian parentage or having resided in India for at least 11 years, is eligible for Indian citizenship.
Union Government has recently announced that NRC will be implemented across all states in India.
The register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India and since then it has not been updated until recently. The northeast Indian state of Assam has become the first state in India where the updating of the NRC is being taken up.
NRC would be India’s first such database of citizens.
While NPR will include details of foreigners who are residing in India for a period of 6 months or more, NRC will contain details of only the citizens of India. Hence, NRC can be said to be a subset of the National Population Register (NPR).
Aadhaar is a verifiable 12-digit identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to the residents of India free of cost.
The Aadhaar number on its own does NOT provide citizenship. It is just a unique number based on your biometric data.
It is compulsory for all Indian residents to register with the NPR, while registration with the UIDAI is considered voluntary.
Aadhar equips the holder to avail of certain services offered by the government. If the resident wishes to avail those services, he should register for the Aadhar. Otherwise, he can opt out of Aadhaar.
Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB)
The Citizenship Amendment bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, of 1955, and grant citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan who have illegally migrated into India.
The Bill also seeks to reduce the requirement of 11 years of continuous stay in the country to six years to obtain citizenship by naturalization.
Some opposition parties have maintained that the move violates Article 14 of the Constitution through religious discrimination, as illegal migrants of the Muslim community are not given citizenship status. The Act doesn’t have a provision for Muslim sects like Shias and Ahmediyas who also face persecution in Pakistan.
The Union Government is planning to introduce the Citizenship Amendment bill before implementing the National Register of Citizens.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill received a lot of opposition from the natives of the state of Assam – where there are a lot of illegal immigrants. The tribes of Assam are not against any community but are against illegal immigration altogether. However, in Assam, the NRC is already implemented. If the bill becomes an Act, the NRC of the state of Assam may also get challenged.
Census vs NPR
The recent exercise of NPR is connected with Census 2021, however, there are differences between the two.
The census is a macro exercise where the data is protected by the confidentiality clause. The census is not intended to identify the individual identity details, while the NPR, on the other hand, is designed to collect the identity details of every individual.
The 2021 census will conclude on March 1 at midnight. A revisional round will be conducted between March 1, 2021, and March 5, 2021, to include who is left from the exercise.
Points to note regarding NPR, NRC, and Aadhaar:
- National Population Register (NPR) may help the government solve many issues in the country. The government decided to update the National Population Register along with the House listing phase of Census 2021 from April to September 2020 in all the States/UTs except Assam.
- While registering with the NPR is mandatory, furnishing of additional data such as PAN, Aadhaar, driving license, and voter ID is voluntary.
- NPR will seek verification of biometric details from UIDAI. Hence, those holding Aadhaar are not required to give biometric details to NPR.
- The 15 demographic parameters that will be included in NPR are: (1) Name of person (2) Relationship to head of household (3) Father’s name (4) Mother’s name (4) Spouse’s name (if married) (5) Sex (6) Date of Birth (7) Marital status (8) Place of birth (9) Nationality (as declared) (10) Present address of usual residence (11) Duration of stay at present address (12) Permanent (13) residential address (14) Occupation/Activity (15) Educational qualification
- NPR will be the base for a nationwide National Register of Citizens. You may note that the list of citizens of Assam was released recently.
- The main purpose of the NPR is to identify illegal migrants and identify them as foreign nationals. However, you may note that – NPR is not a citizenship enumeration drive. NPR will also include a foreigner staying in an area for more than six months.
- The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is responsible for enrolling individuals in the UID scheme, and the Registrar General of India (RGI) is responsible for enrolling individuals in the NPR scheme.
- The main aim of Aadhar is to identify the beneficiaries of government services like subsidies.
- There is a great overlap between the data collected for Aadhar and NPR – hence efforts are made for more synergy.
- NRC can be considered as a subset of the National Population Register (NPR).
UPSC Question from the topic: Aadhaar vs. NPR
CSE Main Exam 2014) Two parallel run schemes of the Government, viz the Adhar card and NPR, one voluntary and the other compulsory, have led to debates at national levels and also litigations. On merits, discuss whether or not both schemes need to run concurrently. Analyze the potential of the schemes to achieve development benefits and equitable growth.
Why is this topic important?
Union Home Minister, Amit Shah had told the Rajya Sabha that the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) will be implemented throughout the country (November 20, 2019).