Update NPR to enumerate self during next Census

Context: Census 2021, which has been postponed indefinitely, will be the first digital Census giving citizens an opportunity to “self-enumerate” as and when it is conducted. The government has not announced when the next Census will be held, with a January 2, 2023 notification ruling out the exercise at least till September.

About Self enumeration

  • The Office of the Registrar of General of India (ORGI), which conducts the Census, has developed a “self-enumeration (SE)” portal which is presently available in English only.
  • With the help of this  SE portal, any usual resident of India can update census-related information on their own without involving government enumerators.
  • If citizens want to exercise the right to fill out the Census form on their own rather than through government enumerators, they will have to first update their National Population Register (NPR) details online . The NPR, first put together in 2010 and updated in 2015, already has the details of 119 crore people.
  • During self-enumeration in NPR, Aadhaar / mobile number is mandatorily collected.

Benefits of Self Enumeration

  •  Respondents can update the details of their family members online without the help of an enumerator for “privacy” and to reduce the financial and administrative burden incurred in the collection of field data.
  • The portal accessible to “respondents of India” will offer “ secure and controlled access to the respondent’s family information and authentication based on pre-filled information available with ORGI and One Time Password (OTP) sent to a registered mobile number,” the report said.
  • The respondent will be allowed to change the family member details and add details of new family members. Those who are no longer part of the household shall be marked as “moved out or died”.

The Census is conducted in two phases-

1.      The first phase — the House-listing Operations (HLO) and Housing Census — is to be conducted with simultaneous updating of NPR.

2.      The second phase- Population enumeration is the main phase, which collects details on key social and economic parameters.

  • Initially, it had been decided that during the HLO, the mobile number from the households willing to share them would be collected, and then, used for giving people access to self-enumeration during the second phase — the population enumeration. “Later, when the Census and NPR exercise was postponed due to COVID-19, it was decided to extend the self-enumeration facility for HLO also.
  •  According to the Citizenship Rules 2003, the NPR is the first step towards the compilation of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC/NRC).
  • The yet-to-be-launched mobile-friendly portal will allow users to register their mobile number in the NPR database, self-enumerate and fill in the details under house listing Operations.

National Population Register (NPR)

  • The NPR pre-test form in 2019 collected details on 14 parameters of all family members of a household. The sub-heads included:

1.      Passport number,

2.      Relationship with the head of the family,

3.      Whether divorced/widowed or separated,

4.      The mother tongue and the kind of occupation, among others.

  • The trial form had a column on Aadhar, mobile phone number, Voter ID and driving licence numbers to be provided if available with the respondent. The final form is yet to be published.
  • The government earlier said that the objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country and it is “mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.”
  • While similar data is collected through the Census, according to Section 15 of the Census Act, of 1948, individual data are confidential and “only aggregated data are released at various administrative levels.”
  • The Home Ministry had earlier said that data collected under the NPR are shared with States and used by the Central government for various welfare schemes at the individual level.

Mains Practice Question:

Critically examine the utility of a “self-enumeration (SE)” portal developed by the Office of the Registrar of General of India (ORGI). (150 words 10 marks)

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