Though government is spending crores of money on various schemes , there are no ways to check how much of the amount is actually reaching them. Prime minister Narendra modi said of one rupee spent on schemes only 15 paisa is reaching the needy. This has put a seed on thought of government to start a programme AADHAR which means Foundation and help the poor in a better way by using the technology to deliver the schemes and services. Also former planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia proposed 1% of cost to be spent on tracking and monitoring.
Identity is not a problem in India itself and its haunting lot of countries in the world. There are about 68.5 million people who are forcefully displaced world wide by 2017 and 1 billion people are legally invisible. One of the sustainable development goal 16.9 as per United Nations by 2030 is to have legal identity for everyone by 2030.Many countries have national identiity cards which is necessary to be benefited by government schemes. For example a small country like Kenya isssues ID cards based on birth certificate and people also needs further documentation like parents and grandparents birth and other records which is been followed for long. In 2003 Atal bihari vajpayeee government launched a pilot project in new delhi to give ID cards to the residents, which was the first pavement for starting NPR and NRC.
Aadhar: Aadhar and NPR considered rival projects. These two were considered under the UPA government ; NPR was under union home minister, P. Chidambaram and Aadhar under Union Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. Both of them were pushing these two records, almost both are duplication of the same documents. Aadhar will be used for welfare services and NPR for governance. Later Adhar was made compulsory to get benefits of various social schemes. Aadhar is made compulsory to get benefits of 11 education-related state schemes in Maharashtra. Central programme Apka Paisa Aapke Haath is direct cash transfer and is aadhar based. Aadhar is also been used in SEBI for mutual funds, brokerage and capital market entities. Recently bank accounts are aadhar linked. NPR linked with census in 2010 and aadhar was made compulsory to be linked with NPR in 2015. Aadhar Panlink compulsory from July,1 2017.
NPR and NRC History:
The three laws which decide citizenship of a person are the citizenship act of 1955, The foreigners act of 1946 and the Passport Act of 1920.India doesn’t have a law to define refugee and hence every non citizen living in India becomes an infiltrator like Tibetians, Srilankan Tamils, Rohingya muslims etc..As there is no law , we don’t have accurate estimate of number of illegal immigrants residing in India and it’s the duty of Foreigners act to identify and detain them. Following the attacks in Kargil,1999 a Kargil review committee suggested the need of ID cards to detect the citizens as there are people with fake Passport cards. Based on this committee review and a report of Group of ministers (GoM)in 2000 felt necessary to issue 2 types of cards with different colours one for citizens and other for illegal immigrants . The GoM recommendations were accepted in 2001. This led the then BJP led government to amend the citizenship amendment act in 2003, wherein section 14 A was inserted which deals with issuing multipurpose national identity cards (MPNIC).
According to section 14 A “the central government may compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue a National Identity card to him”. It also says ” the central government may maintain a National register of Indian citizens and for that purpose establish a National registration authority”. Also the importance of this was more strained after the Mumbai attack in 2008 and the government felt the need to delineate the citizens of India . From 2003-2009 pilot projects were conducted in selected border areas ( around 31 lakh people spread over 11 states and one union territory) to determine the methodology to implement the issuing of MPNIC. Under UPA government 2006, a National Roll out of MNIC was decided by committee of secretaries (coS) but later said it was cumbersome and suggested to go with NPR and citizenship card programme was stopped. By then 12 lakh people got the MNPIC.
From 2009-2011, the NPR is conducted in coastal areas and 66 lakh resident cards issued. Aadhar was started in 2009 (UIDAI) to determine the beneficiary of the government schemes. A nation wide NPR conducted in 2010 along with houselisting phase of census of 2011. It was further updated in 2015 by door to door survey. NPR needs demographic and biometric data. Biometric data to be obtained from aadhar, there are additional questions and other details like driving license number, mobile number, PAN card, driving licence, voter card and passport which are included and are optional .The details recorded in initial census of 1872 is not the same now. It is usual to upload any newer records into the portal and it should not be seen on a decisive manner as in the present day the opposition sees for the above updated NPR.
It is supposed to be started Pan-India after freedom which has not been done and was done initially in 1951 in Assam. Initial NRC found 1 to 1.5 million (12-18%) of the total population were immigrants. Because of initial transmission of people from both the countries immediately after partition it would have been difficult. But later on it should have been streamlined by the government which was not be done. NRC is considered legal in Assam because as a British colony because of huge influx of people from east Pakistan for the natural resources and labour to Assam. The then chief minister, freedom fighter Gopinath mondolai has strictly implemented the first NPC. It becomes the duty of the further governments to continue the same but has been neglected for votes and even illegal immigrants were been encouraged and given ration and voter cards.
After liberalisation of east Pakistan after 1971 war, Bangladesh remained secular till 1979 and later on turned to an Islamic state. This led to huge migration of persecuted minorities from Bangladesh to Assam and also others used to migrate to gain the authority over the natural resources. The north eastern states under 6th schedule of constitution and those under inner line permit have given special status and people from other areas are not allowed to settle down there to protect their ethnicity. They formed autonomous councils which allowed indigenous communities to govern themselves. The state of Assam was reorganised and has three territorial autonomous district councils (Bodoland, Dima Hasao, and Karbi Anglong) along with 6 non-territorial councils. To curtail immigration, in 1962 the prevention of infiltration from Pakistan scheme was introduced, the aim of which was to identify and deport infiltrators by assam police. Later in 1964, the Foreigners tribunal order was passed enabling local state officials to deal with undocumented migration.
For appeasement and encouraging the immigrants the then government has not revised NRC after 1951 and also the PIP scheme was ended in 1969 by Bimala Prasad Chaliha. Renaissance of NRC came after the by-election held in Mangaldai constituency after the death of Hiralal Patowary, an MP, in 1979. Election commission of India announced there were more than 40,000 fake voters list prior to the by-election. This led to Assam agitation with civic unrest the government of India enacted the Illegal Migrants (Determination) Tribunal (IMDT) Act in 1983. It created trouble for both indigenous and immigrant people in view of documentation.
The act was passed by Indira Gandhi with an aim to protect the illegal migrants who have come after 1971 after Nellie massacre where around 3000 minorities were killed. The Nellie Massacre occurred after Indira Gandhi’s decision to give right to vote for 40 lakh illegal immigrants and is one of the worst pogrom. It was applicable only to Assam and in the rest of India the Foreigners ACT is used to deploy illegal immigrants. But as the agitation was later ended in 1985 by ASSAM accord signed between Rajiv Gandhi (then Prime Minister of India) and representatives of the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) and All Assam Students Union (AASU).
Assam accord clause 5 says that foreigners who came to Assam after 1.1.1966 upto 24th march 1971 shall be decided in accordance with provisions of the Foreigners act 1946 and foreigners tribunal order 1964. In Assam accord clause 8 says “The government will arrange for the issue of citizenship certificates in future only by the authorities of the central government”. NRC updation of 1985 as per assam accord includes those persons who appear in NRC 1951 will be included and any one in electoral rolls upto midnight 24 march, 1971 or any one with 12 documents issued before 24 march 1971. Asom gana Parishad(AGP) the byproduct of assam agitation made Prafulla Kumar mahanta as the youngest CM but he could not keep up the promises of implementing assam accord and NRC.
There were talks for many times between the centre, state and student leaders to finalise how to implement NRC. In April 6, 1998, Atal bihar vajpayee the then prime minister after the talks , the minutes of meeting released states that ” There is a need for list of citizens of Assam as on 25-03-1971 to be based on 1971 electoral rolls. Assistance to be taken from previous electoral rolls and 1951 national register of citizens. Names and details of persons residing in Assam as per 1991 census to be made public. This is to be taken up with the Registrar general of India”. It was not though of later until kargil war when government under BJP instigated the need of NRC and amended the citizenship act in 2003.
In December 2004, under Manmohan Singh in power, section 14A in the citizenship act, 1955 compelling registration for every citizen in India came to effect. In 2005, Manmohan Singh led UPA government had a tripartite agreement (2005) between Govt. of India, Govt. of Assam (Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of congress) and AASU with a proposal to complete NRC in next 2 years with assembly elections due in 2006. The minutes of meeting stated “Chief minister of Assam said that state government had agreed to update 1951 NRC by including names of persons from the electoral rolls upto 1971 and their descendants. He said that all the efforts would be made to complete the work in two years after which identity cards will be issued”. Though congress came to power for pilot NRC was not started until 2010 where a pilot NRC started in Chaygaon and Barpeta was aborted due to violence created by AAMSU. NRC was again stopped because of appeasement politics by congress.
One side AASU asking for regular basis NRC and on the other side AAMSU opposing it. other important organisation Assam Public works (APW), which came to existence in year 2000 started to fight for NRC. They filed a petition(WP (c) 279/2009) demanding NRC, which led the supreme court to order NRC , which led congress government led Assam to monitor the process of NRC from april 2013, and it was concluded in 2019. Initial Draft with names of 3.29 crore applicants didnot include 1.9 crore which was released on December 31, 2017.. Later with modifications, another draft released on July 30, 2018 excluded 40 lakh people . Final draft published on August 31, 2019 excluded 19 lakh population. To further prevent immigration the 1000 kms India-bangladeshi border, a special task force for border surveillance , border protection grid need to be established.
But the process of fencing is done at 26 km per year due to problems in land acquisition and local protests. Another 48.11 kms (riverine border) is completely porous and approximately 50 Bangladeshis enter India every day, to prevent this a special BSF is been planned by increasing manpower.
NRC is the need of the day in present situation wherein lot of illegal migrants have entered the country and its time to a keep a check for this. NPR, census and maintenance of register is required to be done and upgraded regularly.
Dr. C. Vasu Reddy, M. S.(AIIMS), M.Ch (Surgical Oncology)