The manual was released by Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner and it contains range of detailed instructions on how to go about the process of NPR which is scheduled for April 2020 and to be concluded by September 2020. It mentions that the enumerators who are appointed for the work of Houselisting and Housing Census will also conduct the NPR updation exercise.
What is NPR?
National Population Register (NPR) is being undertaken under the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship Rules, 2003. The NPR will contain the details of all the ‘usual residents’ of the country regardless of whether they are citizens or non-citizens of India. The electronic database of more than 119 crore usual residents of the country has already been created under NPR which was created in 2010 along with Houselisting and Housing Census 2010. As per decision of the Government of India, the NPR Database has been updated during 2015-16 in all States/UTs (except Assam and Meghalaya) to make a comprehensive resident database.
What is updation of NPR?
The updation of NPR will include updating the existing NPR database by verifying the details of all residents by conducting a house to house enumeration by the enumerator (designated Government official) and modifying/correcting the demographic data items. It will also involve collecting Aadhaar number from residents, but only if they voluntarily provide it. The enumerators will also collect data like Mobile number, Election Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) or Voter ID Card number, Indian Passport number and Driving License number, if available with the residents
It will also include new resident and new households.
It is the responsibility of the State and UT governments to appoint the various field functionaries for the purpose of NPR. The prerogative of printing NPR booklets, forms, summary sheets and such other documents is of the States.
States like West Bengal, Kerala and Punjab have officially given out instruction to strictly carry out only Census related work and have stopped any or all NPR related activities within their respective states. Only time will tell how NPR will be updated with at least 3 states not participating in this process and what the outcome of this non-cooperation by the states will be.
Responsibilities of stakeholders
The roles and responsibilities of enumerators is to carefully fill up the forms and carry out the exercise as per instructions and to keep records safely. State co-ordinator is supposed to publish in State Gazette information regarding updation of NPR. It is also his responsibility to appoint various functionaries, manage expenditure and co-ordinate publicity for NPR. The Sub-district Magistrate/Registrar is also required to publicise that the numbers like Aadhaar number, Voter ID card number, mobile number, Passport number and Driving License number may be kept ready for when the enumerator comes for data collection.
The enumerators are also required to inform the residents that it is their duty to provide correct information regarding every normal resident in the household.
There are specific instructions on how the information is to be recorded while updating NPR. Some important ones being that enumerators are advised to include as many members of the household as possible while collecting information for NPR. It is stated that the questions included in the NPR are self-explanatory and mainly deal with name of members of the household and their place of residence. The enumerators are to maintain highest level of accuracy while filling up or updating details in the NPR schedule.
The enumeration of Defence and similar Service Personnel who are living in strictly military or restricted areas (special charges) would not be done while undertaking updation of NPR.
There are specific instructions on how to fill each and every question mentioned in the NPR form.
The questions include: Present address, Pin code, Household status, Number of members, Name of person, relationship to the Head, sex, marital status, date of birth, place of birth, Nationality, Passport number, educational qualification, occupation, mother tongue.
There is much detail to determine date of birth of person who is not sure about his date of birth. One of those methods is to determine whether a person was born before or after a particular season or festival. It is pertinent to note that there is a list of holidays given to consider but not one of these festivals is an Islamic Festival.
There is a special note in the “nationality” section which reads “Nationality recorded is as declared by the respondent. This does not confer any right to Indian Citizenship”. The needs to input such a statement in an instruction manual for enumerators casts a strong doubt on the intention of the government. With more and more people strongly suspecting that NPR is the first step towards NRC, it is not completely wrong to say that the inclusion of the above statement is a clear indication that government intends to determine the citizenship of the people, soon.
There is mention of a special note under the “mother tongue” section as well. It states, “If you have reasons to suspect that in any area due to any organised movement, the mother tongue is not being truthfully returned, you should record the mother tongue as actually returned by the respondent and make a report to your supervisory officers for verification.” There is also a special requirement that mother tongue of each and every person in the household must be separately recorded as it may happen that one member has a different mother tongue than the other.
Further questions seek data on: permanent address, duration of state and place of last residence, details of father, mother and spouse, Aadhaar number, mobile no., Voter ID no., driving license no.
Under details of father and mother, their name, date of birth and place of birth is being asked, if they are not already enumerated in the same household. While for spouse, only the name is sought.
NPR 2010 vs NPR 2020
It has been pointed out earlier that there is difference between the questions asked in NPR 2010 and the questions set to be asked in NPR 2020. NPR 2020 seeks additional data such as details of father, mother and spouse, Aadhaar number, mobile no., Voter ID no., driving license no., Passport number and mother tongue.
Basically, the NPR of 2020 seeks more personal data than before and seeks to enhance its database with such information. Such information will create a perfect profile of each individual with the government and since government ID cards are linked to banking related activities, income tax account, sim cards, demat, train bookings, flight bookings and other such services, government will be able to create a profile of each individual. With all data in one place of each individual, it poses a threat not just to the privacy of the data of the individual but also poses a great security risk. This data stands a chance to get misused a great deal. Since, people trust government officials, they give away their data easily without a second thought and this might lead to a perilous situation for the residents of this country.