The Union Cabinet has cleared the bill to prepare a National Population Register (NPR). It will be a list of usual residents of the country. A usual resident is defined is someone who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more or who intends to reside in a local area for the coming six months or more.
The NPR, which is going to be an extensive exercise would be prepared at the local (village/sub-town), sub-district, 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.
The NPR exercise will help the Union government to better target the poor people across the country under the scheme like- Ayushman Bharat, Jandhan Yojna, and other social security schemes. Given the unprecedented urbanization in the last few decades, there is a huge migrant population which lives away from its native place. These people are not able to reap the benefit of central government’s social security schemes, as most of the benefits are linked to ration card or other identity cards, whose data is managed by state governments.
As of now, the Union minister Prakash Javdekar said that there is no link between NPR and NRC exercise. “It will not be a long-form. There will be a mobile app… It is a self-declaration. No document is required. No proof is required. No biometric is required. This is already accepted by all states. All the states have already notified it,” said Javdekar.
As per the government release, NPR will contain basic information like sex, date of birth, place of birth, nationality (as declared), permanent and current address (if they differ) duration of stay at present address, occupation and educational qualifications.
The exercise was previously conducted in 2010 and 2015 by the UPA government, after an amendment in 1955 citizenship amendment act, which allowed the central government to “compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue (a) national identity card.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also clarified that NRC and NPR are different process, in an interview with Smita Prakash of ANI. “It is possible that some names are missed in the NPR, still their citizenship will not be revoked because this is not the process of NRC. The NRC is a different process. I want to make it clear that nobody will lose citizenship because of NPR,” said Shah.
It is important to mention here that it is mandatory for every usual resident to register with the NPR. The objective of the National Population Register is going to be to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country.
The NPR exercise will primarily help the migrants allow the country to better adapt the urbanization process. It will also help the Modi government to achieve the ‘Ease of Living’, which has been the buzzword of the government’s welfare schemes in the last few years.
The states of West Bengal and Kerala have refused to conduct the NPR; but it is not clear how they will be able to prevent the exercise, as the citizenship is a matter under the union list.