Difference between NPR Census NRC

What is NPR, Census, NRC,CAA? Is NPR related to NRC? Who is citizen of India?

In 2020, the Government of India is all set to carry out two mega exercises, the Census(16th Census and the 8th after Independence) & updating data of the National Population Register(NPR). NPR, NRC, CAA, these acronyms have been flashing all over the media for a while now.

What are NPR, NRC, Census, CAA and Aadhaar?

  • Census: The Census of India is a once-a-decade process of collecting information of all residents of India. The data collected during the census is not supposed to be about any individuals but instead to, through the various statistics, give us a picture of the condition of Indian residents. Census details about individuals are meant to be secret, unlike either NPR and NRC which are explicitly lists of individuals. For Census It is self-declaration, no document, no bio-metric is required for it.
  • NPR: The National Population Register(NPR) is a list of all usual residents of India, i.e. anyone who has lived in the country for more than six months regardless of their nationality. The list itself is compiled by sending surveyors to each household, where they will collect demographic and biometric information. No documents are required to be submitted for the NPR. It is self-declaration but biometrics are required.
  • NRC: The National Register of Citizens is a meant to be a list of all citizens of India, i.e. those who are considered Indian nationals and therefore get all the rights due to citizens.
  • CAA: The Citizenship Act amendments are legal provisions that add a religious test to India’s citizenship laws. They provide a pathway toward citizenship for illegal immigrants who are Hindu, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain or Christian and not Muslims – coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh or Afghanistan.
  • Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identity number linked to biometric data of Indian residents. It was meant to help make it easier to identify Indian citizens and deliver welfare measures to them, though over the years it has run into many controversies and its uses have expanded far beyond welfare.

The Home Ministry issued a statement saying, “There is no proposal at present to conduct a nationwide NRC based on the NPR data.”

Difference Between NPR and Census?

Both processes NPR and Census involve door-to-door enumeration. Both are carried out under the aegis of the Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner an organisation in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The NPR process collects demographic and biometric particulars of individuals. While the Census only collects demographic data. NPR differs from the Census in the sense that its objective is to have a comprehensive identity database of those residing in India. The Census does not identify individuals. However, in Census 2021, this distinction may no longer exist as the government is said to be planning to conduct it through a mobile phone application.

Census data are kept and maintained centrally under the Registrar General of India. But once the NPR data are recorded and ready, these details would be kept and maintained in a population register at levels of village or ward, tehsil or taluk (sub-district), district and state.

People will not be required to fill forms and information will be gathered on a mobile app. Details of Mobile App for NPR given here.

Description NPR Census
Full-Form National Register of Citizens Census
What is it?


NPR is a list comprising the country’s usual residents.

A resident is someone who has resided in a local area for at least six months or intends to reside in the locality for at least six months.


Census Collects information about all residents of India.

Gives an overall picture of the status or condition of residents of India and the overall population trends.

Basis for reviewing the country’s progress in the past decade and plans for future.

Act Section 14A was inserted in the Citizenship Act, 1955, in 2004 Census Act of 1948
When will be data collected Next April 2020 and September 2020 except Assam 2021 In two phases

1st phase: House listing Apr to Sep 2020

2nd phase: Enumeration of Population from Fen 9 to Feb 28 2021

Data to be released on 1 Mar 2021


Data Last collected 2010(along with Census data collection in 2010), Updated in 2015 2011
Data First Collected on 2010 1949 in independent India.

First in 1872

How often data to be collected Every 10 years Every 10 years
Budget Allocated

On 24 Dec 2019

3,941.35 crore
8,754.23 crore
What data is collected It will have the demographic and biometric details of every Indian resident at the national, state, district and village level.

name, relationship to head of household, father’s name, mother’s name, spouse’s name (if married), sex, date of birth, marital status, place of birth, nationality (as declared), present address of usual residence, duration of stay at present address, permanent residential address, occupation, educational qualification

The census involves a detailed questionnaire — there were 29 items to be filled up in the 2011 census — aimed at eliciting the particulars of every person, including age, sex, marital status, children, occupation, birthplace, mother tongue, religion, disability and whether they belonged to any Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe


State Govt opposing West Bengal, Kerela None
Relation to CAA? There is no direct link. But remarks by the Home Minister that the CAA would be followed by the NRC has given rise to fears that when people are excluded from the final citizenship register, the CAA may help non-Muslims take the CAA route to apply for citizenship, and leave Muslims with no option. However, the government seeks to allay these fears. No Relation

Difference between NPR and NRC?

While both the terms NRC (National Register of Citizens) and NPR (National Population Register) appear to be similar, both have a basic difference 

NPR is a register of the usual residents of the country. A usual resident, for the purposes of NPR is defined as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more. 

NRC is a verified digital register containing names and basic demographic information about all Indian citizens in a digital format. A person born in India or having Indian parentage or having resided in India for at least 11 years, is eligible for Indian citizenship.

NPR is not a citizenship enumeration drive; it would also include a foreigner staying in an area for more than six months. NRC will contain details of only the citizens of India excluding the foreigners staying in India.  

National Register of Indian Citizens shall contain the particulars of every citizen as shown in the image below. Some more information is being asked in 2020 compared to 2010.

NPR Data required in 2010 and 2020
NPR Data required in 2010 and 2020

The Home Ministry said the objective of conducting NPR is to “prepare a credible register of every family and individual living in the country apart from strengthening security and improvement in the targeting of beneficiaries under various Central government schemes

The Assam experience of NRC has been bad with reports about a large number of bonafide citizens having been left out of the NRC, and there is still no clarity about how many illegal immigrants were identified in the exercise, which essentially asked every resident to prove her Indian citizenship.

Is the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act related to NPR?

The answer is both yes and no. There is no direct link. It depends on how the government decides to use data collected for NPR.

Assam and NRC

Assam, the North Eastern state of India became the first state in the country where the updation of the NRC was taken up to include the names of those persons whose names appeared in the NRC of 1951 and are still alive; and/or of their present living descendants who have a permanent residence within the state.

Over the past decades, NRC has become a hotly-debated subject among people throughout the country. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) was first prepared in Assam in 1951 after the Census 1951 was conducted. The main objective behind this endeavour was to check the illegal inflow of people. But, over the years, this exercise has emerged as the main reason behind innumerable incidents of violence and deaths in Assam. Here’s the journey of NRC, down the years

NRC Timeline through the years
NRC Timeline through the years


Who is Citizen of India? Which Acts define Citizenship in India?

“We, the people of India” mean citizens of India. This citizen of India is defined, identified, verified and distinguished from infiltrators under a set of three laws:

  • the Citizenship Act of 1955 (amended many times; the latest version emerged in the recent Winter Session of Parliament),
  • the Foreigners Act of 1946 and
  • the Passport Act of 1920.

Every non-citizen living in India is an infiltrator, if she is not a tourist or diplomat, because India doesn’t have a law to define a refugee. Tibetans, Sri Lankan Tamils and some other named groups of foreigners are refugees as the government of the day accorded them that status.

The Foreigners Act makes it a duty of the government to expel all infiltrators or illegal immigrants out of India. Since there is no law, there is no accurate estimate of how many illegal immigrants are living in India.

Estimating the number of illegal immigrants is like guessing the amount of black money in circulation in the Indian economy — the money exists, but it is out of the official calculation and hence subject to speculation.

In 2004,  the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2003 , was passed when the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government was in power. In the amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955, a Section 14A had been inserted. Section 14A relates to the issue of national identity cards.

According to Section 14A of the Citizenship Act,

  • the Central Government may compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue a national identity card to him.
  •  The Central Government may maintain a National Register of Indian Citizens and for that purpose establish a National Registration Authority.

Narendra Modi government passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill(CAB) in Parliament and became the Citizenship Amendment Act(CAA) on 12 December 2009.  During the discussion on the Citizenship Amendment Act, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the government would bring a nationwide NRC (National Register of Citizens).

Row over the Citizenship Amendment Act brought thousands of people to the streets with protests turning violent at many places Seen in the context of the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2003, the NPR may lead to an NRC.   Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 adds fuel to the fire. Critics of the Modi government allege the latest amendment will shield non-Muslim illegal immigrants while making a large number of Muslims stateless people with an uncertain future

How was NPR born?

India has long felt the need to issue verifiable identity documents to its citizens, particularly in border areas. The need was highlighted by the Kargil Defence Review Committee. That’s how the NPR was born as an idea in 2003. The need was evident again when India started worrying about coastal security after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008.

Then the Vajpayee government lost the 2004 election and the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government came to power in 2004. This government decided it will carry out the NPR, and separately issue biometric identity cards under a new law. Hence, we have the Aadhaar card.

Aadhaar and NPR

In 2010, Both the NPR and Aadhaar projects were concurrently underway collecting demographic and biometric data. Initially, both had better and targeted delivery of benefits and services to people as their objectives. The works of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the home ministry were viewed as duplication and wastage of resources.

The conflict, however, ended in a compromise between the home ministry and the UIDAI where it was decided that NPR and Aadhaar databases will be used for different purposes. Aadhaar will deliver welfare services and NPR will be used for other purposes of governance.

It was also decided that those already enrolled for Aadhaar need not give their biometric details during NPR exercise. The NPR data were to be matched with Aadhaar data for de-duplication. But the final formula gave NPR an upper hand. It was agreed that in case of discrepancy between Aadhaar and NPR data, NPR would prevail.

Video on the Difference between NPR and Census

This 8 minute video explains the difference between NPR and Census

NPR Mobile App

You can check out the NPR Mobile App Manual here. The image below shows except of NPR Mobile App.

Mobile App for NPR
Mobile App for NPR

To recap The difference between NPR and Census is

Difference between NPR Census NRC
Difference between NPR Census NRC

Reference Website:



  1. Thank for sharing such a useful information about NPR.

  2. You really should be a part of a contest for just one of the greatest blogs on the net. I am going to suggest this great site!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.