[Answered] “National Register of Citizens though well intentioned, has many problems; majority of which are borne by the poorest”. Comment. Examine the need of National Register of Citizens.

Demand of the question
Introduction. What is NRC?
Body. Issuesrelated to NRC. Need of NRC.
Conclusion. Contextual conclusion.

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a document containing the name of all Indian citizens of Assam. It was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951 and was updatedrecently for Assam. The purpose of NRC update is to identify Indian citizens of Assam,thus leading to identification of illegal migrants residing in Assam.

Issues related to National Register of Citizens:

  1. Discrepancies:There are several discrepancies in the final draft of the NRC caused by misspelling of names and inclusion or nicknames instead or actual names. The names of 40.07 lakh applicants did not find a place in the final document.
  2. Law and order problem: The implementation of NRC may lead to serious law and order problem not just in Assam but also in neighbouring states.
  3. Loss of Right to Vote: Right to vote is a constitutional right. People whose names are not in NRC would be barred from voting. Thus loosing right to vote.
  4. 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.Thiswill legalise their illegal migration.
  5. 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.
  6. Judicial burden will increase: Since such ‘non citizens’ willgo to judiciary for relief to substantiate their citizenship claim. Thus itwill lead to overburdening of judiciary which is already overburdened.
  7. Threat to tribal rights: Indigenous tribes who do not have any pre-1971 documents to prove their Identity will loose their rights. While all original inhabitants or Assam are to be included, it is not an easy task.

Need of NRC:

  1. Ensure People’s Right: An updated NRC will clear actual number of illegal migrants in Assam. It will prevent further illegal migration that will ensure rights of Indian citizens in Assam.
  2. Better policy measures and implementation: It will provide a verified database to implement targeted policies and calibrated policy measures for benefits of Assamese 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 updated NRC is expected to deter future migrants from Bangladesh from entering Assam 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.

The need of the hour is that Union Government should clearly devise the course of action regarding the fate of excluded people from final NRC data.There is a need for a robust mechanism of legal support for the four million who have to prove their citizenship to India with their limited means.

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