PM Modi’s speech in the Rajya Sabha contained some important observations on the National Population Register(NPR) at a time when several protests are going on in different parts of the country against India’s newly amended and contentious citizenship law. While addressing the Rajya Sabha, PM Modi said that the NPR was being updated to allow for the rightful beneficiaries to get the benefit of schemes introduced by the government.
PM Narendra Modi said, “Don’t try to mislead the people”, while replying to the debate in the Rajya Sabha on a motion thanking the President for his address to the joint sitting of both the houses of the Parliament.
PM Modi blamed the Opposition for opposing the NPR and for presenting a frivolous political narrative. He also said that such an attitude was against the poor. The PM further noted that his government had made good use of the data that had been collected by the NPR exercise in previous years and had used the data to make schemes more accessible to the poor.
“ We have record of your NPR, no citizen was persecuted based on that record of NPR”. He also cited the statement of the Home Minister of the Congress led UPA government appealing to citizens to enrol themselves in the exercise.
He reminded the attendees that the NPR had been first intrigued in 2010 and updated in 2015, PM Modi said the Census and the NPR are the usual administrative processes which have been carried out in the past as well and that there was no reason to suddenly begin seeing them as contentious.
He said that the questions that were asked from citizens for the NPR exercise were purely governance related. When questioned on why the NPR asks people about the language they and their parents speak, he said that there was a need to ask this question so that the government would have an idea about which kind of schools to set up in that geographical locality. Many states have disapproved and expressed their disillusionment with the NPR process and have raised many concerns about it.
They have raised doubts that the government would use the collected data to implement the National Register of Citizens(NRC).
The government reiterated that it had still not taken a decision on the countywide NRC even as protests against the CAA and NRC would be completing two months in the coming week.
The government also underlined that the fear generated on the CAA, NRC and NPR exercises where nothing but false propaganda by the Opposition.
It made clear that no document would be collected during the NPR exercise and that providing Aadhaar number would also be voluntary.
The government is presently discussing the NPR with different state governments, which is slated to be update between April and September 2020. The Census will be conducted form February 9-28,2021.