The central government has once again reiterated that no decision has been taken to conduct a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), almost a year after it had stated the same in the Parliament.
According to a report in The Indian Express, in reply to recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Ministry of Home Affairs with regard to the issue of fears associated with National Population Register (NPR) and Census, the government has said, “All individual-level information collected in Census are confidential. In Census, only aggregated data are released at various administrative levels.”
The government further stated, “Like earlier Censuses, wide publicity measures would be taken up for creating proper awareness among public so as to conduct and complete the Census 2021 successfully. Questionnaires for Census, along with that of NPR, have been tested at pre-test conducted successfully across the country. It has been clarified at various levels in the government, time and again, that till now no decision has been taken to create National Register of Indian citizen.”
The committee – headed by Congress MP Anand Sharma – had in February last year observed that there is a lot of dissatisfaction and fear among the people regarding the upcoming NPR and Census. The “Action Taken” report on the same was on Tuesday tabled in the Rajya Sabha.
The government has said in the report, “A 360-degree approach for communicating the right and clear message on the NPR has been planned to be followed. All kinds of media, i.e. social media, AV, Digital, Outdoor, print, and word of mouth publicity tools are part of the planned media strategy. Right kind of messaging will be done to tackle the miscommunication and rumors around NPR and Census 2021. However, in view of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Phase I of Census 2021 and updation of NPR and other related field activities have been postponed until further orders,”
According to the Express report, the Committee in its final observation has, however, noted that Aadhaar already has biometric information of the individuals. So, the already stored Aadhaar metadata of the individuals may be used in creating a family database for the upcoming Census and updation of NPR.
“The Committee also reiterates its recommendation that all the states/UTs should be fully convinced on various issues pertaining to the upcoming updation of NPR, to have a national consensus so that there is absolute clarity and no apprehension among remaining people across the country, which will help in conducting these exercises in a smooth manner,” the report has said.
Following controversies around the NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Act, several states had said they would not implement the NPR exercise.