Cabinet approves funds for census, population survey - GulfToday

Cabinet approves funds for census, population survey


Protesters chant slogans at a demonstration against the new citizenship law in New Delhi on Tuesday. Agence France-Presse

Resmi Sivaram

The union cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday allocated Rs85 billion for updating the National Popular Register (NPR). The decision comes even as popular anger rages across the nation against the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The NPR exercise will require people to declare “date and place of birth of parents” besides furnishing data on 21 points.

The NPR exercise is to commence from April next year.

The data that will be collected include date and place of birth of parents, last place of residence, PAN, Aadhaar (on a voluntary basis), Voter ID card number, driving licence number and mobile number.

In the last NPR exercise in 2010, data was not collected on date and place of birth of parents, last place of residence, passport number, Aadhaar ID, PAN, Driving Licence number, Voter ID card and mobile number. In 2015, this data was further updated by conducting a door-to-door survey.

“There is no link between NPR and NRC (National Register of Citizens).

The NPR has nothing to do with NRC,” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters in New Delhi.

A “usual resident,” for the NPR, is a person who has lived in an area for at least six months or more, or a person who intends to live in an area for the next six months or more. It is mandatory for every “usual resident” of India to register in the NPR.

“It will not be a long form. There will be a mobile app for people to upload their details. It’s self-declaration. No document is required. No proof is required. No biometric is required. This is already accepted by all the states. All the states have already notified it,” Javadekar said.

Eleven states have so far declared that they will not implement the National Register of Citizens. But there is no clarity how they will block the citizens’ register which does not need to go to parliament for any more approvals.

The door-to-door survey for the population register coincides with the house-listing phase of Census 2021 and will be carried out between April and September 2020 in all states.

When census enumerators go from house to house to list all houses in the country, they will carry a second form for the NPR with them like they did in 2011.

Once they fill the houselisting form — which canvasses details about the house and the assets of the people staying in the place — they will be required to get people to respond to a set of between 14-20 questions.

Also on Tuesday, the cabinet cleared the appointment of India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Javadekar announced after the cabinet meeting that a four-star General will head the department of military powers in the defence ministry.

The CDS will function as a single point of contact for different branches of the armed forces and as a military adviser to the government.

The new position was announced by Modi during his Independence Day speech earlier this year.

“Our forces are India’s pride. To further sharpen coordination between forces, I want to announce a major decision from the Red Fort. India will have a Chief of Defence Staff — CDS. This is going to make the forces even more effective,” the PM said. The concept was also strongly backed by the late Manohar Parrikar, who was defence minister for two years during Modi’s first term.

Outgoing Army Chief General Bipin Rawat is considered one of the front runners to become the first Chief of Defence Staff.

Javadekar said the CDS could be drawn either the Army, the Air Force or the Navy and will be paid a salary equal to a service chief.

A CDS to oversee the military was first recommended by the K. Subrahmanyam committee set up after the 1999 Kargil War. The panel was asked to examine lapses in security after the war.

The committee tabled its report in the Parliament in February 2000. Subrahmanyam is the father of India’s current foreign minister, Dr S. Jaishankar. The CDS will also be tasked with trimming weapons procurement procedures and integrating the operation of the armed forces. The post will have a fixed term that has yet to be determined. All P-5 nations — the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — have equivalent posts.

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