Step Towards a Unique Identity for All

April 1, 2010

Recently, many of us must have read in newspapers or magazines or websites about National Population Register (NPR). But what is NPR? What is its purpose? And above all how is it going to benefit the common man? 
To know about National Population Register, it becomes essential to know something about Census. The first census in India was held in 1872. Since 1881, population censuses have been held every ten years without any interruption. Census is an administrative exercise carried out by the Government of India. It involves the collection of information about the entire population with regard to many factors like demography, socio-cultural and economic characteristics. 
The 2011 Census of India will be the 15th census and seventh after Independence. A milestone in the 2011 Census is the preparation of the NPR. The census will be carried out in two phases. The first phase spans from April to September 2010 with houselisting, house census and collection of data on NPR. This phase also involves the canvassing of NPR schedule which will be digitized in two languages – English and the official language of every State/Union Territory. The first phase will commence on April 1, 2010 in the states of West Bengal, Assam, Goa and Meghalaya and the Union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The second phase includes the population enumeration stage. 
The creation of NPR of usual residents of the country is an ambitious project. It involves the collection of specific information on each person residing in the country. It would cover an estimated population of 1.2 billion and the total cost of the scheme is Rs.3539.24 crores. This is for the first time that NPR is being prepared. The database will be built by the Registrar General, India. At this juncture, it becomes important to stress that census and NPR are different, even though the basic idea behind both the exercises is collection of information. 
Census is the biggest source of data on demography, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, economic activity, urbanization, fertility, mortality, language, religion and migration. It serves as primary data for planning and the implementation of policies of the Central and State Governments. Also, it is utilized for the purpose of reservation of constituencies for Parliamentary, Assembly and local body elections. 
NPR on the other hand, involves the creation of a comprehensive identity database for the country. This would facilitate planning, better targeting of government schemes/programmes and also strengthen the security of the country. Another aspect that differentiates NPR from census is that it is a continuous process. In census, the duty of concerned officers is for a limited period and their services are dispensed with after the work is over, while in the case of the NPR, the role of concerned officers and that of subordinate officers like the Tehsildar and Village Officers is of continuing nature and permanent. 
NPR will include the items of information such as the name of the person, father’s name, mother’s name, spouse’s name, sex, date of birth, place of birth, current marital status, education, nationality as declared, occupation, present address of usual resident and permanent residential address. The database will also contain photograph and finger biometry of persons above the age of 15 years. The draft Local Register of Usual Residents (LRUR) would be displayed in the villages in rural areas and wards in urban areas for inviting objections like spellings in names, address, date of birth etc. and also regarding residency status of any person enumerated. The draft LRUR will also be placed before the Gram Sabha or local bodies for authentication of usual residents. 
Once the database is finalised, the next task would be assigning every individual a Unique Identification Number (UID) by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Later this UID number will be added to the NPR database. It is proposed to issue identity card, which will be a smart card with UID number printed on it and include basic details like name, mother’s/father’s name, sex, date and place of birth, photograph. Complete details will be stored in the chip. 
The implementation of NPR in the entire country would be based on the light of the experience gained from the pilot project, the coastal NPR project. The pilot project was carried out in selected border areas of the country. The coastal NPR project is being carried out in more than 3300 villages in 9 states and 4 Union territories. The decision to implement coastal NPR project was taken by keeping in view the enhancement of coastal security. 
How NPR would benefit people? 
In India, there are several databases like election card, driving license, passports, PAN cards, but all these have limited reach. There is no standard database covering the entire population. NPR would provide a standard identity database and facilitate the allotment of Unique Identification (UID) Number to each individual, something like a permanent identifier - right from birth to death of the individual. 
The significance of NPR lies in the fact that there is an increasing need for a credible identification system for the country as a whole. It becomes all the more important because of various factors such as the need to reach out to people in every nook and corner of the country, to keep a check on illegal migration and also with regard to the issue of internal security. 
The coming in of a unique identification number would benefit the common man in many ways. It will strike off the need for producing multiple documentary proofs of identity by an individual for availing government or private services like opening of a bank account. It will help in the easy verification of an individual. The creation of an identity database would help enhance the targeting of various beneficiary oriented schemes of the Government and non governmental agencies. NPR would also serve the requirement of sprucing up tax collection. 
India has already set the process rolling to create the largest database in the world, with the promise of a unique biometric card to an estimated population of 1.2 billion. Thus the path towards providing a unique identity has been set out. The enormity of the exercise is such that it requires the undaunted support and cooperation of people in making the project a success that would be beneficial to every resident in the country. 

by Veena N. Madhavan
Released by Press Information Bureau - Government of India

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Comment on this article


    Thu, Dec 23 2010

    I heartily welcome the steps and hope the authority is really talking seriously.

  • Uday D Shetty, Karkala/Sharjah

    Mon, Apr 05 2010

    Friends, please cooperate with the government, the measures taken by the government for you and your family.

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Sun, Apr 04 2010

    Those people who are pleading ardently for a national identity card for all the Indians must pay
    a visit to the remote villages of India and see, how the people are living there. Most of them don't
    know their own date of birth, and heir children's birth date.

    Villages after illages are without any school,no medical care and communication ystem.

    What kind of identity tag is going o be entrusted with the people? he government has to implant
    some identity device on their orehead, else the cards will be isappeared soon from their
    custody. At present, this plan s a terrible waste of money without any definite purpose or

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Sun, Apr 04 2010

    In fact, the 40% populations who are under poverty line are protected by this card. The Govt machineries will become accountable to the distribution of aids to these vulnerable BPLs through this new high technology data system.

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Sun, Apr 04 2010

    It is a great idea that an indentity card is issued to every citizen of India.

    But this step is like putting the cart before the horse.

    Those people who can drive has their identity. People who are rich and educated have their
    identity in some form with them.

    What is the purpose of creting an identity card for the 40% of the population who are under the poverty line? They may be living in the remote village without any access to the modern world.

    Make programmes to feed and educate them, and whenever they need an individual identification, make one for them. A lot of programmes being introduced in India are simply like a blind imitation from another country like the western fast food business in India. At first, we need to look after the absolute
    need about any programme, before blindly introducing them.

    About fifty years back, one deputy collector of Kerala was drowned while driving through a flooded
    road in the night. Who will dare to drive a car in the night through the flooded road? It was pure
    carelessness. But the goverment of Kerala gave contract to put 6 ft concrete post, showing the
    water leavel at the post, all across Kerala by spending millions of rupees. After a few years,
    most of the concrete post disappeared due to the poor construction and installation.

    Issuing the identity card in the  national level at present is such an idea mentioned above.

  • Madhura, Bangaliore/UK

    Sat, Apr 03 2010

    There are hundreds of other necessities that are not given proper attention like food, housing, education, employment etc. How many people in India found to be terrorists? At the most 30? What is the point in creating such a huge data base? What will anybody do extra with an ID card? Even countries like the UK are hesitating to do so with the enormous expense looming large. India unthinkingly goes for it as though every other need of the people are already met and all they need is an ID card. There are possibilities of biometric, age, address, date of birth etc. of being misused. Access to all can be very dangerous.

    Even in highly advanced countries, people are struggling to keep the information confidential. I wish the government has spent this money judicially on welfare programmes. ID card like programmes are just to show the world that we have arrived and are going to be a superpower soon. If the government can shelve this programme and spend that money on education, drinking water, health and housing, that would be commendable. What can a rural person do with a silly card? His/her life will be benefitted if welfare programmes reach the doorstep. I consider this one of the saddest programmes that the present government has undertaken. A country should be able to stand by its own priciples without aping other countries. In what way this will help the terrorist eradication? If they take biometric details of Taliban and Pakistan, that could be more helpful, I am sure!!

  • Richard Pinto, Indore/Dubai

    Fri, Apr 02 2010

    In our opinion it is a great idea of having such UID card for all Indian citizens. It is better to have one card and it should be multi purpose card. Every time authorities are announcing new new cards this is utter nonsence. Why they can not study and ask the opinion of the public for better results. Hope Nandan Nelkeni is successful in this venture.This card will teach a lesson for all those who are avoiding taxes, Opening many bank accounts in ficticious names, black marketeers, money laundering people, Assets in foriegn countries,Funding terrorists etc.

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Fri, Apr 02 2010

    This is part of the project which Nandan M. Nilekani of Infosys had started, to give identity to all the citizens of India. The new Smart Card will become the future multi-purpose ID card at every department. This will reduce corruption at the economically backward community distribution machineries. It will eliminate multi-identity of a same person who may have hidden intention to cheat the department as well as the public.

  • vinod mishra, Gonda (Uttra pradesh)

    Thu, Apr 01 2010

    this is a good decission for india but, in future some information are public on the internet by default name age & district are publicly d.

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Thu, Apr 01 2010

    Crores of rupees of public tax money has been spent in various card systems rather than properly planning a system and A CRAD for multiple uses. Pan card, UID, ration card and now NPR and now one more Property card. All the wasted money of these disjointed could have been spent in upkeeping the poor.
    Millions of people are going without food but the government is not bothered to provide basicshelter, food and water and electricity and homes to millions of people people.
    Why is such a waste and unplanned, disjointed and uncordinated ID systems?
    It baffles my mind what the beraucarcy is upto or these are money making ventures and schemes of computer age and providers of technology services.
    Nilkeni case in example.


    Thu, Apr 01 2010


  • Bharadwaj S, UP/ Delhi

    Thu, Apr 01 2010

    The article is self contained and clear. There is no ambiguity in it. It conceptualize the whole issue in totality. We must keep our finger cross for the success of this scheme.

  • Roashan Braganza, Eden gardens

    Thu, Apr 01 2010

    I think it will be impossible in the country like india. Nandan nilekani looks stupid here. Bigger Fraction of indian population dont have valid Id proof and very difficult to pin point.

  • Jerry Moras, Calgary, Canada

    Thu, Apr 01 2010

    Earlier India came out with PAN for stock trading purpose, then votors card for issuing pass book and casting votes, then more card was issued for another purpose.... so on... we've 3 cards already.

    Hope India will have only one card upon which each individual is identified and his /her affairs are linked - bank account, employment, so on... and hope even passport is linked to NPR number. This is what Canada has - SIN (Social Insurance number ) number issued by Revenue of Canada.

  • K.Sridhar Babu, karimnagar

    Thu, Apr 01 2010

    This is a acceptable step by the govt.

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