A few weeks ago, Arundhati Roy- the anarchist activist- told the people to tell their names as Ranga-Billa to the census officials. In a befitting reply to people like Arundhati Roy and to those who considered following her advice; the Modi government has decided to penalize the people who give false information in the census or National Population Register (NPR). “Rule 17 of the citizenship rules states that a penalty of Rs 1,000 can be imposed for wrong information,” said an MHA official.
It is well known that people hide the details from officials, and sometimes deliberately lie to not reveal the exact details to the state machinery, as they fear that, the data will be used by the state to take action against them in future.
And then there are activists like Arundhati Roy, who fear-monger about the government processes and ask them to give false information. Therefore, penal action is required to teach a lesson to people like Roy and her misled followers.
In the United States, if a person offers suggestions or information with the “intent to cause inaccurate enumeration of the population,”, s/he is fined up to 1000 dollars, up to a year in prison, or both. Almost all countries around the world collect crucial data about the citizen; for security reasons, welfare delivery and so on. And there are penal provisions if one gives wrong information. But in India, due to lack of state capacity and activists like Roy, the crucial data about the people is not available to the government. And this is the reason behind corruption in welfare delivery, weak security apparatus and efficient policy measures.
The NPR pretest draft has 21 questions and papers will be asked and no biometrics will be taken during the exercise. The government also removed the PAN ID details this time, as the people hesitate to share these kinds of details. In all the earlier data collection process, the details of the PAN ID used to be asked.
The government has taken several steps to ensure that people give correct details to the census and NPR officials. “Enumerators are teachers who know locals and also familiar with local people. They will get maximum up to Rs 25,000 to do the job of enumerators. They will also keep an eye on people giving wrong information during the Census,” added the MHA official.
The government has taken a step in the right direction by starting the penal provision to the people who deliberately give wrong information to government officials, or try to fool them. This is also a befitting reply to those who are trying to promote anarchy in the country.