National Population Register

Prelims level : Indian polity Mains level : Paper - III Internal Security
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  • The National Population Register (NPR) is a Register of usual residents of the country. It is being prepared at the local Village level, sub District Tehsil/Taluk level, 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.
  • Which was updated in all India level by 2015-16 except in Assam and Meghalaya.
  • The National Population Register (NPR) is a database of the identities of all Indian residents. The database is maintained by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India.
  • The NPR project, inspired by a citizenship card project conceived by BJP patriarch LK Advani, was launched during former home minister P Chidambaram’s tenure in 2009-2010.


  • The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database in the country with full identification and other details by registering each and every usual resident in the country.
  • This would help in better targeting the benefits and services under the Government schemes/programmes, improve planning and prevent identity fraud.
  • The goal for NPR is almost the same as for UDAID, which issues Aadhar cards. It is to improve implementation of the economic policies of the government and its various programs, in so far as they affect different segments of the population.
  • NPR and UIDAI work closely together to create a database of Indian residents.
  • In view of the growing need for a credible identification system in the country due to various factors, like internal security, illegal migration etc, India is contemplating the preparation of a National Population Register (NPR) by collecting specific information on each person residing in the country.
  • The proposed NPR would contain such information as, name, sex, date of birth, current marital status, name of father, mother and spouse, educational level attained, nationality, occupation/activity pursued, present and permanent addresses.
  • The database would also contain the photograph and finger biometry of persons above the age of 15 years. Under this scheme, every individual would be assigned a unique National Identification Number (NIN).
  • As per Section 14A of the Citizenship Act as amended in 2004, it is compulsory for every citizen of the country to register in the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC).
  • The creation of the National Population Register (NPR) is the first step towards preparation of the NRIC. Out of the universal dataset of residents, the subset of citizens would be derived after due verification of the citizenship status.
  • Therefore, it is compulsory for all usual residents to register under the NPR.
  • An NRI is not a usual resident of the country. Therefore, they would not be in the NPR till they are non-residents. When they come back to India and take up usual residence within the country, they will be included in the NPR.
  • Providing any false information would attract penalties under Citizenship Rules 2003.

Under the NPR Project, the following activities are undertaken:

  • House listing by enumerator.
  • Scanning of NPR schedules.
  • Storing data in a digital format.
  • Biometric enrolment and consolidation.
  • Correction and validation of information collected.
  • Deduplication by UIDAI and issuance of Aadhaar number.
  • Consolidation of data at the Census Commissioner’s office.
  • There is also a proposal to issue Resident Identity Cards to all usual residents in the NPR of 18 years of age and above is under consideration of the Government. This proposed Identity Card would be a smart card and would bear the Aadhaar number.

Agencies Involved:

Several government agencies are working towards the creation of this NPR. These includes:

1. Registrar General Of India
2. The Department of Electronics and Information
3. Department of Electronics and Accreditation of Computer Classes
4. CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd and Managed Service Providers (MSPs).


  • During the first phase of Census 2011, enumerators have visited every household and have collected the details required for the NPR in a prescribed format.
  • These forms have been scanned and the data has been entered into an electronic database in two languages – the State language and in English.
  • Biometric attributes – photograph, ten fingerprints and two iris images are being added to the NPR database by organizing enrolment camps in each local area.
  • The enrolment will be done in the presence of Government servants appointed for this purpose. All usual residents who are above 5 years of age should attend the even if their biometrics have been captured under Aadhaar.
  • For persons not enrolled under Aadhaar, UIDAI can also register themselves in the enrolment camps.
  • No specific documents are required for registration in the NPR.
  • If the household has not been covered during the census 2011 or if the individual has changed residence after the Census, a new will be given at the camp and have to be filled up there.
  • The filled-in forms will be submitted to the Government official, present at the camp. These forms will be verified by the authorities and the individuals biometric details will be captured during the next round of biometric camps.

Connection between NPR and Aadhaar:

The data collected in NPR will be sent to UIDAI for de-duplication and issue of Aadhaar Number. Thus the register will contain three elements of data:

  • Demographic data
  • Biometric data and
  • The Aadhaar (UID Number)
  • A person who has already enrolled with still has to register under NPR.


  • The Indian government is also creating a National Register of Indian Citizens, a subset of the National Population Register.
  • The National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) will be a Register of citizens of the country.
  • It will be prepared at the local (Village level), sub District (Tehsil/Taluk level), District, State and National level after verifying the details in the NPR and establishing the citizenship of each individual.
  • It is compulsory for every citizen of the country to register in the NRIC.
  • In simple terms, the NRIC is a register of Indian citizens. It will hold online the details of every Indian citizen.
  • The NRIC will be prepared after the verification of the information in the NPR and establishing the citizenship of each individual.


  • NPR was a slow process because it enrolled people in accordance with households, not just individuals.
  • A register based census is impossible in India given its size and complexities.
  • Creating the database is a costly and cumbersome exercise.
  • Update the database dynamically, capturing every event of birth, death and migration on a real time basis across the length and breadth of the country and keep it live at all points of time is a difficult exercise.
  • Whether the Register would replace the Census in due course is an unanswerable question.
  • Register based information, is by its nature, not confidential and hence may be prone to other influences. • The Register General and Census Commissioner of India has turned down state governments’ request on sharing data from the National Population Register (NPR). Due to reason of privacy concerns.


  • There are several databases in India like electors list, driving licenses, passports, PAN cards (Income Tax), list of persons below the poverty line, ration cards, farmers cards to name a few. All these have a limited reach and are standalone databases.But NPR is a comprehensive one.
  • In order to avoid duplication, save costs and allow interoperability, a standard database covering the entire population is an urgent necessity. The fundamental purpose of the NPR is to provide a credible database for identification
  • Cross tabulation of various indicators give policy planners and others robust inputs for programme planning and implementation on a full count basis.
  • The Register coupled with sample surveys would allow the generation of many of the indicators
  • It would definitely , shorten and simplify the existing Census and thereby enhance its qualitative aspects. This would also enable the conduct of Census at more frequent intervals instead of once in a decade.

NPRIC in Assam:

  • Assam is the only state to have its own register of citizens.
  • Assam historically has seen an influx of immigrants. Before independence, the Britishers brought in plantation workers from present-day Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
  • In 1904, Bengal was divided into East Bengal, West Bengal and Assam.
  • Post the 1971 war, a large number of people migrated from East Pakistan to Assam and West Bengal.
  • The government then made several efforts to send back the illegal immigrants but failed. This large-scale immigration affected the ethnic balance of the original population.
  • The first NRC was created in 1951 following the Census of the same year. It was basically a serialised list of houses and property holdings in every Indian village with the number of people residing in them along with their names.
  • However, by the 1980s, there had been demands in Assam to update the list because the indigenous Assamese feel that the immigrants have outnumbered them and are eating into their limited resources and rights.
  • on the heels of the anti-illegal foreigners’ movement in Assam in 1980, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Assam Gana Parishad in 1980 submitted a memorandum to the Centre, seeking the ‘updation’ of the list.
  • The move was aimed at protecting the indigenous culture of Assam from illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
  • Finally, in 1985, the Assam Accord was signed after which the agitation culminated.
  • Following the Accord, an amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955 under section 6(A) gave Indian citizenship to all migrants who came to Assam before the midnight of March 24, 1971.
  • The date March 24, 1971, was decided because the Bangladesh Liberation war started on March 25, 1971.

  • The updated NRC will count only those as Assam citizens who can prove their residency on or before March 21, 1971. This means that all those not included in the list run the risk of being rendered, illegal immigrants.
  • Thus National Register of Citizens is designed to identify who is a citizen and who is an immigrant in Assam.
  • While building such a list (a register of citizens, in this case) is geared towards ensuring that it becomes easier to deal problems of governing citizens and immigrants.
  • The present updating process began in 2015, following a Supreme Court directive to the government to keep up with the Assam Accord of 1985.


  • All those whose names are not there in the draft NRC will get another chance at explaining/complaining to the NRC authorities. But those who do not have their names in the final NRC will be deemed as not a citizen of the country. They will have to fight the battle in the foreigners tribunals to prove themselves as Indians.
  • This massive exercise threatens to strip even genuine Indians of their citizenship if they are unable to produce documents that prove their ancestors resided in Assam before 1971.
  • Is being justified with the aim to identify and segregate illegal Bangladeshi migrants.
  • United Nations special rapporteurs said that the NRC updation exercise may be biased against the Bengali Muslim minority.
  • Politically, however, it offers a polarised religious and regional plank on which elections are fought, won and lost.

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