[Answered] “India requires a national register for citizen’s at national level.” Critically examine.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Benefit of NRC being implemented at national level. Issues related to National Register of Citizens being implemented at national level.
Conclusion. Way forward.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a document containing the name of all Indian citizens of Assam. The purpose of NRC update is to identify Indian citizens of Assam, thus leading to identification of illegal migrants residing in Assam. The NRC is seen as a major instrument for security and peace of Assam and other north-eastern states. On similar lines it is said that there should be an NRC at national level. Whether such a register is needed and can be simulated as national level need to be examined thoroughly.

Benefit of NRC being implemented at national level:

  1. Ensure People’s Right: A national NRC will clear actual number of illegal migrants in Assam. It will prevent further illegal migration that will ensure rights of Indian citizens in a better way.
  2. Better policy measures and implementation: It will provide a verified database to implement targeted policies and calibrated policy measures for benefits of Indian citizens especially tribal people. This will weed out fake beneficiaries.
  3. Enhance internal security: It will enhance internal security of the nation by keeping a check on illegal migration. Illegal migration lead to terrorist threat, counterfeit money etc. endangering security of our nation.
  4. Prevent future illegal migration: Publication of an NRC at national level would deter future migrants illegally. The publication of the draft NRC has already created a perception that staying in Assam without valid documentation will attract detention/jail term and deportation.
  5. Will reduce fake voting: Illegal migrants will find it difficult to procure Indian identity documents. Thus cases of vote for money through fake identities will reduce as persons whose names are not in list will loose voting rights. Thus it will strengthen our electoral process.

Issues related to National Register of Citizens being implemented at national level:

  1. Law and order problem: The implementation of NRC may lead to serious law and order problem in India and also in neighbouring states.
  2. Loss of Right to Vote: Right to vote is a constitutional right. People excluded from NRC would be barred from voting. Thus loosing right to vote.
  3. Fake Cases: There have been several cases of people having made fake official identity cards such as Aadhaar, PAN card, ration card and even voter’s identity card. This will legalise their illegal migration.
  4. Loss of Properties: The left out whose names are not in the list will not be able to buy land or a house in the country. It will increase selling of benami properties especially by those who loose their citizenship.
  5. Judicial burden will increase: Since such ‘non citizens’ will go to judiciary for relief to substantiate their citizenship claim. Thus it will lead to overburdening of judiciary which is already overburdened.

NRC exercise makes sense in Assam because in 1971 around 10 million people crossed over from Bangladesh to India and that caught the attention of authorities. However, there is no need to get into this kind of exercise at national level, as it can lead to unintended consequences.

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