Census in India

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The NDA government 2.0 has been responsible for promulgation of different bills in both the houses. One such bill which shall soon be made as an Act that has been the headline for several days is the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Population Registry (NPR) and National Registry of Citizens (NRC) connected with the Act. A wide range of protests have taken place ever since. Some argue that this move is not secular while others argue the nature of its constitutionality.

What is census and why it is conducted?

Census is defined as the total process of collecting, compiling and analysing the data pertaining to the demographic, economic and social data at a particular time from all the persons who are living in the country. In general, census provides the data regarding the country’s population and living at any given period of time.

The main purpose of collecting census is to collect information on demographic, size, socio economic conditions and other main characteristics with respect to a country’s population.

Mechanism with which census works- legal provisions

The whole process of National Population Registrar is backed up by the Citizenship Amendment Act and the Citizenship (Registration of citizens and the issue of national identity cards) Rules, 2003 and census is carried out as per the provisions under the Census Act, 1948.

There are differences between Census and National Population Registrar.

Census is the mere collection of data based on the self declaration made by the persons and the declared information taken down without any sort of verification. However the rules governing NPR makes it compulsory for a person to share the respective demographic and biometric information failing which there may be fines or penalties as per rule 17 of the Citizenship Rules, 2003.

The controversy between NPR, CAA, NRC:

The Citizenship Amendment Act is the main reason for the nationwide protests. The Act promised the Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhist minorities who are fleeing persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who have entered on or before 31 December 2014 to be eligible for citizenship.

The main contention from Anti- CAA protestors is that the Act deliberately excludes Muslim minorities eligible to be citizens of India. Others contention includes that of excluding the religious minorities who are being persecuted in Tibet, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. A wide number of protests have broken across the country. The students and protestors are subjected to police suppression and damages to persons and public property. Several states has declared that they will not implement the Act to which the Central Government says that the states do not any legal power to do so.

National Registry of Citizens is the official record of the legal citizens of India. NRC is mainly based on the demographic information about the individuals who are qualified to be citizens as per the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955. It has not been updated after 1951 since its preparation. The controversy arose with the registry which was formed in Assam. On November 20, 2019 Union Home Minister Amit Shah made an announcement that NRC will be made applicable to all the states in India.

The implementation of NRC in Assam has not proved to be positive. The registry has excluded several persons who have been ordinarily resident in Assam for a long period of time. Making NRC applicable to whole of the nation may bring several confusions as it may declare persons from other than Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh will be affected. However there is no official notification on linking CAA and NRC.

National Population Register is another term that is in headlines. It is the list of usual residents of the country. A usual resident is a person who has been residing in India for a period of six months or more or those who intent to live in the country for next six months or more. Union government has approved Rs. 3,941.35 crore for updating the NPR list.

The main aim is to create a comprehensive database of the usual residents. The problem with NPR now is that the announcement was made in the event of Citizenship Amendment Act being promulgated. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar has confirmed that NPR does not have anything to do with NRC as speculations arose.

He also stated that it is a population registrar and not a citizen registrar and that the concept was earlier brought by the UPA government during their regime in 2010. Both the census and NPR is based on self declaration and hence no individual need to prove with any documents that they are the citizens of the country.

Sample surveys of NSSO:

National Sample Survey Office is a exquisite setup to carry out surveys on demographic, socio-economic, industrial and agricultural subjects for collecting data from households and enterprises located in villages and towns. The main aim of NSSO is to provide with statistical and demographic information to facilitate better policy planning and implementation.

Conclusion:

The Citizenship Amendment Act has brought many people to protest on the streets of India. The government must make sure that no right of individuals are being infringed and they must have their democratic right to expression. While the government has certain duties, the protestors have their own duties as well.

They must express themselves in a peaceful manner (which is how the protests are being carried on) and must be well aware of the law and avoid being ignorant. Police must follow the procedure in handling these protests and not carry out inhuman activites.

Author: J.Shuruthi from SASTRA Deemed to be University-School of Law, Thanjavur .

Editor: Tamanna Gupta from RGNUL, Patiala.

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