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States against NPR query on parents’ birth date, place

The governments of Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, all non-Bharatiya Janata Party ruled states, have lodged protests against the NPR. The state assemblies of Kerala and Punjab have adopted resolutions boycotting the NPR exercise. Question on “date and place of birth of parents” in NPR is being flagged by states.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jan 18, 2020, 07.40 AM IST
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According to the home ministry, NPR data has been previously provided to the governments of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Manipur for the Sarvam scheme that tracks subsidies and the public distribution scheme.
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The contentious question on the “date and place of birth of parents” in the National Population Register (NPR) form was flagged by several state governments during the half-day workshop convened by the Union home ministry to discuss its modalities. The NPR is to be carried out between April 1 and September 30 during the house listing phase of Census 2021.

All states and Union territories, except West Bengal, participated in the first national workshop.

“States complained that it is impractical to collect information on date and place of birth of parents,” Rajasthan chief secretary DB Gupta said after the conference. “There are many people in the country who even don't know what their birthplace was. I don't know what the purpose of such questions is and we have told the meeting to remove such a question.”

Home ministry officials said this question is not mandatory for respondents.

“Only a few states have raised objections to this and they were informed that these details were recorded during the previous NPR enumeration as part of a single question on parents,” said one of the home ministry officials.

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“This time, we have a separate question on the place of birth to ascertain if they are staying with the children or not.”

The governments of Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, all non-Bharatiya Janata Party ruled states, have lodged protests against the NPR. The state assemblies of Kerala and Punjab have adopted resolutions boycotting the NPR exercise. On Friday, the Kerala government instructed district collectors to ensure that the NPR is not mentioned while sending communications on Census 2021.

The workshop was held in the wake of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Critics accuse the government of wanting to use it in conjunction with a National Register of Citizens (NRC) subsequent to the NPR to discriminate against Muslims.

The government has denied this, saying the NPR was begun by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

According to the home ministry, NPR data has been previously provided to the governments of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Manipur for the Sarvam scheme that tracks subsidies and the public distribution scheme (PDS). Rajasthan has been given NPR data for the Bhamashah women’s empowerment scheme. In 2015-16, the NPR database was updated in all states and Union territories, except Assam and Meghalaya.

NPR is a register of the country’s ‘usual’ residents. It was first rolled out by the UPA government along with the 2011 Census. In 2011, details such as name, date of birth, sex, marital status, educational qualification, occupational activity, parents’ name, nationality (as declared) were among the questions asked of respondents. The number of questions at the time was 14. This was increased to 21 in the 2019 pre-test that was held between August 12 and September 30 last year.

During the discussion with states, minister of state for home Nityanand Rai emphasised the need for Census 2021 and the role of the states in this exercise. He said the data collected in the census was essential to frame welfare policies. Deliberations were also held on the appointment of census functionaries, use of mobile applications in data collection and central monitoring portal, according to an official statement.

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