26, Dec 2019 | CJP Team
The manual giving detailed instructions to census workers as to how to collect all information for updating the National Population Register (NPR) has been released. This comes at a peculiar time given how the government appears to be backtracking on conducting a nationwide exercise along the lines of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that was recently concluded in Assam.
Many questions have been raised about the NPR and it appears that an attempt is being made to pass it off as the regular census that is conducted every ten years. The manual released by the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India says, “National Population Register (NPR) of all the ‘usual residents’ in the country was created in 2010.” This appears to suggest that the 2010-2011 census was also NPR. In that case, will the NPR differ from the proposed nationwide NRC? It is imperative that the record be set straight given that the government has recently brought about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which when viewed in conjunction with the NRC poses a threat to the idea of citizenship by linking it with religion.
There are also other questions that need to be answered. For instance, the manual lists several data points that need to be collected from all respondents. These include some data points that can prove to be contentious in wake of the CAA, such as the field that says “nationality as declared”. The way the field has been worded appears to leave enough room for questioning nationality instead of accepting the respondent to be Indian without question. Another addition has been the field about Aadhaar number. Given that the Supreme Court had ruled that Aadhaar will be mandatory for availing government benefits and a few other matters such as filing taxes, making Aadhaar declaration mandatory in the NPR could be viewed as an unwarranted compulsion.
The entire NPR manual may be viewed below.
(Feature Image – The Hindu)
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