The Registrar General of India (RGI) that conducts the decennial Census exercise has written to all State coordinators to update names of an area, locality, colony or a building in the “charge register,” an important census document that will help enumerators to collect details during the first phase of Census-House Listing and Housing Census and the National Population Register (NPR).
While the dates of the first phase of the census, initially to be rolled out in some States on April 1, has not been finalised, the letter may be an indication to start the exercise that was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic .
The charge register shows the distribution of work among enumerators and marks the House Listing Blocks (HLB) to be visited by each official. Each HLB, the primary unit for collection of data, can comprise an estimated present population of only 650 to 800. The register will also be used for the field work relating to the updating of NPR since the same functionaries would be engaged for both the exercises. Around 30 lakh enumerators — government officials and government school teachers — will each be assigned the responsibility to collect details about 650-800 people through both online and offline mode.
No separate column
The RGI’s letter said that since the charge register does not have a separate column to mention the names of “place, locality, colonies” or “towers,” such names could be included against “column number 18.” The letter said this was being done to avoid duplication and to ensure that none of the households was left out from the census exercise. All States were asked to complete the charge register by December 31, 2019 and the letter asks for additional details.
The other details included in charge register are name, area and estimated population of a village or a town.
On January 9, the RGI notified the 31 columns for which the enumerators will seek response for the House Listing and Housing Census. The questions include — whether the respondent has access to LPG/PNG connection, if the person owns a radio, transistor, television, access to Internet, whether they own a laptop, computer, telephone, mobile phone or a smartphone among other things.
The office of the RGI had in a Right To Information (RTI) reply in November said the schedule or the questionnaire of the NPR was “being finalised” and the information about the expected date of first phase of Census 2021 was “not available.”
The NPR’s link with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the yet to be implemented Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 has been opposed by as many as 13 States and Union Territories. According to the Citizenship Rules framed in the year 2003, NPR is the first step towards compilation of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) or NRC. NPR was first collected in 2010 and then updated in 2015. Some States have objected to additional questions to be asked in the fresh NPR such as date and place of birth of father and mother, last place of residence and mother tongue.
Trial NPR form
In 2019, the trial NPR form collected details from 30 lakh respondents on 21 parameters, including information such as Aadhaar (optional), voter ID card, mobile phone and driving licence numbers. In 2010 and 2015, NPR collected details on 14 parameters.
The CAA passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019 allows citizenship on the basis of religion to six undocumented communities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. There are apprehensions that the CAA followed by a country-wide NRC will benefit non-Muslims excluded from the proposed citizens’ register, while excluded Muslims will have to prove their citizenship. The government has denied that the CAA and NRC are linked.