The issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which still continues as a Gordian knot in Assam, is gradually getting pan-Indian dimensions with the recent announcement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah that NRC would be carried out across the country. This move, according to Shah, is in line with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) poll promise to catalogue all citizens. The proposed nation-wide NRC would be undertaken after updating the National Population Register (NPR) alongside the Census 2021 exercise. The process of the preparation of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) will begin on completion of the verification of NPR.
In many respects, the implementation of NRC across the country requires replicating the just concluded exercise in Assam. However, no parallel can be drawn on the NRC process in Assam and the proposed one across the nation as the former was conducted as per the directions of the Supreme Court, under a separate law. Moreover, the issue in Assam was intrinsically intertwined with history, sociopolitical and demographic factors of neighbouring countries and decades of illegal migration to the State impacting the economy and the social fabric of the State. Thus, a closer look at the NRC process in Assam and the inter-related issues is necessary for a better appreciation of the proposed nation-wide NRC exercise.
Views expressed by the author are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of Centre for Public Policy Research