Government says parents' place, date of birth essential for NPR
Amid uproar regarding the National Population Register (NPR), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has informed a standing committee of Parliament that questions related to parents' birth were asked in the past as well and it's necessary for "back-end data processing". But the committee noted the government couldn't come to a consensus on the NPR process, which could thwart the Census exercise, scheduled to begin on April 1.
The National Population Register is a register containing details of all usual residents—a person who has resided in a local area for at least six months and will continue to reside in said area for the following six months or more. The NPR collects data on residents' names, current place of residence, DOB, etc., at the local (village/subtown), sub-district, district, state, and national level.
After a budget of Rs. 3,941 crore was approved for NPR exercise last year, critics are worried that it will be used for the National Register of Citizens (NRC), that will decide citizenship. The panel, led by senior Congress leader Anand Sharma, told MHA last month that there was a huge concern about NPR, more so after Kerala said it won't conduct it.
"The committee feels that these apprehensions should have been duly ventilated in the media. The MHA must consider some way out so that Census goes on smoothly. Otherwise, there is quite a chance of the entire process being stymied in many states," the panel said.
In its response to the standing committee, MHA said, "The Date & Place of Birth of Parents were collected in NPR 2010 as well for all parents who were enumerated within the household." When parents lived somewhere else or had passed away, only their names was sought, MHA reminded. The MHA said data is being collected in a comprehensive manner to facilitate back-end data processing.
Explaining why the Aadhaar database can't be used, MHA said NPR is not being updated. "Besides, Aadhaar is individual data, whereas NPR contains family-wise data. It will not be possible without visiting each and every household to construct family-based data from Aadhaar database. Various welfare schemes of State and Central Governments are generally family-based for which NPR data may be used," it said.
Unimpressed, the committee said, "Aadhaar isn't just an individual's data but is also tied up with ration card, PAN, etc. Aadhaar metadata also includes the entire family's surname, address, etc. Therefore, Committee fails to understand as to why this should be treated as individual data."