August 9, 2012 -
The National Population Register (NPR) will not be completed as expected by June 2013. The NPR is the identity database being assembled by the Home Ministry office of the Indian Government and has been recently stalled due to a conflict with the Unique identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) Aadhaar project. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked that the Home Ministry, through its Home Secretary, work to avoid duplications with UIDAI’s work.
The NPR entails the registration of the whole population and does not collect the biometric data. Instead it collects other personal information about a resident intended for the civil registry. The Aadhar, on the other hand, is a twelve-digit number that is assigned to every Indian citizen as his or her unique identity number. In the future, the Aadhar number will be used for bank transactions, voting and other transactions in government offices as a means of identification.
The Prime Minister directed the Home Secretary to not only ensure that work does not get duplicated but that the establishment of NPR registration sites only start in areas where the UIDAI has finished collecting the data they need. The UIDAI, for its part, still needs to collect biometric data from an estimated 400 million people.
In January 2012, the Home Ministry’s office and the UIDAI have reached a compromise that allowed both the Aadhaar and the NPR to proceed simultaneously. However, in a Cabinet meeting held in June, it was agreed that the UIDAI would proceed with the Aadhaar while the Home Ministry would have to wait for the former to complete the “majority” of its work. It was also agreed that should discrepancies arise between the two, NPR data would prevail.
Another set of conflicts is predicted to occur since there was no clear definition what constitutes the “majority” of the work. The UIDAI and the Planning Commission are planning to enroll another 200 million members which could further setback the work of the NPR.
Is the the work of the National Population Register just as important as Aadhaar?