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December 2019

Citizenship and Related Issues

National Population Register (NPR)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NPR, NRC, Census

Mains level : Debate over CAA


The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to conduct Census 2021 and update the National Population Register (NPR). While the Census will be conducted in 2021, the NPR update will take place from April to September 2020 in all the States/UTs except Assam.

This has sparked debate another debate about privacy. The NPR intends to collect many details of personal data on residents.

What is the National Population Register (NPR)?

  • The NPR is a register of usual residents of the country. It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
  • It includes both Indian citizens as well as a foreign citizen.
  • The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country.
  • The first NPR was prepared in 2010 and updating this data was done during 2015 by conducting door to door survey.
  • The next update of the NPR will take place next year from April to September with the Houselisting phase of the Census 2021.
  • It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

What is the meaning of usual resident?

  • According to the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, a usual resident is 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.

What is the Census?

  • The Census is the enumeration of the population of the country.
  • It is being conducted at an interval of 10 years.
  • The Census 2021 will be 16th census in the country since the first census happened in 1872. However, it will be 8th census after the Independence.
  • For the first time, the Census 2021 will use the Mobile App for data collection. It will also provide a facility to the public for self-enumeration.

What is the difference between NPR and NRC?

  • The NPR is different from the National Register of Citizens which excludes the foreign citizens.
  • According to the Citizenship Rules 2003, a Population Register is ‘the register containing details of persons usually residing in a village or rural area or town or ward or demarcated area (demarcated by the Registrar General of Citizen Registration) within a ward in a town or urban area.
  • Whereas, the ‘National Register of Indian Citizens’ is a register containing details of Indian Citizens living in India and outside India.

What is the link between NPR and NRC?

  • The Citizenship Act empowers the government to compulsorily register every citizen and maintain a National Register of Indian Citizens. A nationwide NRC — if undertaken — would flow out of NPR.
  • This does not necessarily mean that an NRC must follow NPR — no such register was compiled after the previous NPR in 2010.
  • After a list of residents is created, a nationwide NRC — if it happens — could go about verifying the citizens from that list.

Issues with the states

  • Citizenship, aliens and naturalization are subject matters listed in List 1 of the Seventh Schedule that fall exclusively under the domain of Parliament.
  • Legally, the states have no say in implementing or ruling out NPR.
  • However, given that the manpower is drawn from the states, the defiance could potentially result in a showdown.

MHA’s clarification

  • It issued a statement denying any proposal to conduct a nationwide NRC based on the NPR data.
  • The NPR is among a host of identity databases such as Aadhaar, voter card, passport and more that Home Minister Shah said he would like to see combined into one card.

“Run Through Files” Mechanism


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : “Run Through Files” Mechanism

Mains level : Read the attached story

To ensure that important government matters don’t get delayed owing to conflicting hierarchical and departmental priorities, the Haryana government has introduced a “Run Through Files” mechanism.

“Run Through Files” mechanism

  • Haryana government has introduced a new provision of “Run Through Files’’ in the Centralised File Movement and Tracking Information System (CFMS).
  • It would be personally monitored by Chief Minister of Haryana.
  • A file shall be marked as Run Through Files only by the CM in the CFMS.
  • Every file marked as RTF has to be cleared on priority greater than that is currently being accorded to the files marked top priority.
  • At whichever level any contribution other than mere signing on the file is made, the same will also be uploaded on CFMS portal.
  • A system generated SMS and email will automatically be sent on each downward or upward movement of the file.

Citizenship and Related Issues

In news: Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : OCI, PIO

Mains level : Indian diaspora

Over the past few months, many OCI cardholders have faced similar issues and have had to cancel their trips to India.  After receiving a flood of complaints the Ministry of External Affairs had announced a relaxation in the rules earlier this month.

Why in news?

  • As per the MEA rules, an OCI card needs to be re-issued every time a passport is renewed by cardholders below the age of 20 years and those who have completed the age of 50 years.
  • Cardholders between 21 and 50 years of age who acquire a new passport do not need to get their OCI card re-issued.
  • The guidelines have been in force since 2005, as per the MEA.
  • In the past several months, many OCI holders complained of being subjected to harassment by immigration authorities as well as airline officials over the rule, which had not been enforced so far.

Who is an OCI?

  • An OCI, is a category introduced by the government in 2005.
  • Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) of certain categories as specified in the Citizenship Act, 1955 are eligible for being OCI cardholders.
  • Some of the benefits for PIO and OCI cardholders were different until 2015, when the government merged these two categories.
  • The MHA defines an OCI as a person who was a citizen of India on or after January 26, 1950; or was eligible to become a citizen of India on that date; or who is a child or grandchild of such a person, among other eligibility criteria.
  • According to Section 7A of the OCI card rules, an applicant is not eligible for the OCI card if he, his parents or grandparents have ever been a citizen of Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Privileges to an OCI

  • OCI cardholders can enter India multiple times, get a multipurpose lifelong visa to visit India, and are exempt from registering with Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) no matter how long their stay.
  • If an individual is registered as an OCI for a period of five years, he/she are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
  • At all Indian international airports, OCI cardholders are provided with special immigration counters.
  • OCI cardholders can open special bank accounts in India, they can buy non-farm property and exercise ownership rights and can also apply for a driver’s license and PAN card.
  • However, OCI cardholders do not get voting rights, cannot hold a government job and purchase agricultural or farm land.
  • They cannot run for public office either, nor can they travel to restricted areas without government permission.

MEA relaxation

  • Subsequently MEA has allowed OCI cardholders, either below 20 years or above 50 years of age and who had renewed their passports, to continue their travel to India till June 30, subject to them carrying both the old and new passports along with the OCI card.
  • After June 30, they will have to get new OCI cards.
  • Previously, OCI holders also had to get a ‘U’ visa sticker on their passports, but the MEA later dispensed with the requirement.
  • According to the website of the Bureau of Immigration, OCI cardholders are now given immigration clearance on the strength of their valid foreign passport and OCI card.

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Prevalence of Mental disorders in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Mental health and associated issues in India

A study by the India State-level Disease Burden Initiative published in The Lancet Psychiatry was recently released.

Highlights of the report

  • The report found that 197.3 million Indians (one in every seven) were suffering from mental disorders in 2017.
  • The study describes the prevalence of mental disorders in Indian states between 1990 and 2017.
  • The 197.3 million in 2017 included 45.7 million cases with depressive disorders and 44.9 million with anxiety disorders.
  • Among the disorders with the highest prevalence, idiopathic developmental intellectual disability affects most Indians, at 4.5 per cent.
  • It is followed by depressive disorders (3.3), anxiety disorders (3.3) and conduct disorders (0.8).

Statewise data

  • Among depressive disorders, the prevalence is the highest in Tamil Nadu (4,796 per 100,000), followed by Andhra Pradesh (4,563), Telangana (4,356), Odisha (4,159) and Kerala (3,897).
  • In case of anxiety disorders, the prevalence is highest in Kerala (4,035), followed by Manipur (3,760), West Bengal (3,480), Himachal Pradesh (3,471) and Andhra Pradesh (3,462).
  • For conduct disorders, Jharkhand and Bihar have the highest prevalence, at 983 and 974 per 100,000 people.
  • At 6,339 and 5,503 per lakh respectively, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have the highest prevalence of idiopathic developmental intellectual disability.

Indian Army Updates

[pib] Chief of Defence Staff


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Office of CDS

Mains level : Need for CDS

In a landmark decision with tremendous reform in higher defence management in the country, the Union Cabinet has approved to create the post of Chief of Defence Staff.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

  • The CDS will be in the rank of a four-star General with salary and perquisites equivalent to a Service Chief.
  • He will also head the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), to be created within the Ministry of Defence and function as its Secretary.
  • The Chief of Defence Staff, apart from being the head of the Department of Military Affairs, will also be the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
  • He will act as the Principal Military Adviser to Raksha Mantri on all tri-Services matters.
  • The three Chiefs will continue to advise RM on matters exclusively concerning their respective Services.
  • CDS will not exercise any military command, including over the three Service Chiefs, so as to be able to provide impartial advice to the political leadership.

Areas to be dealt

The following areas will be dealt by the Department of Military Affairs headed by CDS:

  • The Armed Forces of the Union, namely, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
  • Integrated Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence comprising Army Headquarters, Naval Headquarters, Air Headquarters and Defence Staff Headquarters.
  • The Territorial Army.
  • Works relating to the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
  • Procurement exclusive to the Services except capital acquisitions, as per prevalent rules and procedures.


As the Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee, CDS will perform the following functions:

  • CDS will administer tri-services organisations. Tri-service agencies/organisations/commands related to Cyber and Space will be under the command of the CDS.
  • CDS will be member of Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Raksha Mantri and Defence Planning Committee chaired by NSA.
  • Function as the Military Adviser to the Nuclear Command Authority.
  • Bring about jointness in operation, logistics, transport, training, support services, communications, repairs and maintenance, etc of the three Services, within three years of the first CDS assuming office.
  • Ensure optimal utilisation of infrastructure and rationalise it through jointness among the services.
  • Implement Five-Year Defence Capital Acquisition Plan (DCAP), and Two-Year roll-on Annual Acquisition Plans (AAP), as a follow up of Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP).
  • Assign inter-Services prioritisation to capital acquisition proposals based on the anticipated budget.
  • Bring about reforms in the functioning of three Services aimed at augmenting combat capabilities of the Armed Forces by reducing wasteful expenditure.


Explained: The post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

[pib] Universal Postal Union (UPU)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Universal Postal Union (UPU)

Mains level : Not Much

The Union Cabinet chaired gave its approval to the ratification of the Tenth Additional Protocol to the Constitution of the Universal Postal Union (UPU).

Universal Postal Union (UPU)

  • The UPU established by the Treaty of Bern of 1874 is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that coordinates postal policies among member nations, in addition to the worldwide postal system.
  • The UPU’s headquarters are located in Bern, Switzerland.
  • The UPU contains four bodies consisting of the Congress, the Council of Administration (CA), the Postal Operations Council (POC) and the International Bureau (IB).
  • It also oversees the Telematics and Express Mail Service (EMS) cooperatives. Each member agrees to the same terms for conducting international postal duties.


  • The approval enables the Postal Administration of India to have the Instrument of Ratification signed with the Director-General of the International Bureau of the Universal Postal Union through diplomatic channels along with the approval of other Acts of the Union.
  • It will also enable the Department of Posts to bring out any administrative orders to implement the provisions of the UPU Convention in India.

History- Important places, persons in news

[op-ed snap] Periyar, the hero of Vaikom


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Periyar; Vaikom

Mains level : Vaikom Satyagraha


Vaikom is associated with the name of the great Malayalam writer, Muhammad Basheer and also with an important satyagraha during the freedom struggle. In Tamil Nadu, it conjures up the figure of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy.


    • Social Justice – Vaikom is a metaphor for social justice — when scores of satyagrahis from the Tamil country joined hands with their brethren in a heroic struggle.
    • Temple entry – It was in the princely state of Travancore. The four streets surrounding the temple of the presiding deity were out of bounds for Ezhavas and other castes counted as ritually lower. 
    • T K Madhavan – In 1924, a satyagraha was launched against this injustice by T.K. Madhavan. In the initial stages, K.P. Kesava Menon and George Joseph led the struggle. Other prominent figures included Kurur Neelakanthan Namboodiri and Mannathu Padmanabhan. Towards the end, M.K. Gandhi reached Vaikom and gave it the finishing flourish.

Leadership at a critical juncture

    • The satyagraha began with the active support of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee.
    • Within a week all its leaders were behind bars. George Joseph sought directions from Gandhi and C. Rajagopalachari. He also wrote to Periyar pleading with him to lead the satyagraha.
    • Periyar was in the midst of political work. As he was then the president of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, Periyar handed over temporary charge to Rajaji before reaching Vaikom in 1924. 
    • From that date to the day of the victory celebrations in 1925, he was in the struggle giving it leadership at a critical juncture.

Periyar’s role

    • Against violence – Periyar presided over the satyagraha in the face of violence and indignity inflicted by the orthodox and the repression of the police. 
    • Mobilising – To mobilise support, he visited villages in and around Vaikom and delivered public speeches in several towns.
    • Gandhi – When the Kerala leaders asked for Gandhi’s permission to make the satyagraha an all-India affair, Gandhi refused saying that volunteers from Tamil Nadu would keep it alive. 
    • In reportsthe British Resident said in his report to the government of Madras: “In fact, the movement would have collapsed long ago but for the support it has received from outside Travancore…”
    • Historian T.K. Ravindran observes that Periyar’s arrival gave “a new life to the movement”.

Role in the Satyagraha

    • Argument – He made a cogent and compelling case for it. He used his wit and folk logic to punch holes in the argument of the orthodox.
    • Government repression – As his campaign met with an enthusiastic response, the government imposed prohibitory orders on him. The administration arrested him on May 21. 
    • Non- cooperation – Periyar refused to cooperate with the court saying that the trial was no more than an eyewash and braved the magistrate to inflict any punishment.
    • In the jail – Rajaji wrote in a letter to The Hindu that Periyar was condemned to “rigorous imprisonment and irons and jail clothing and to deprive him of all society to which other satyagraha prisoners were rightly deemed entitled is totally unjustifiable”.
    • Fellow prisoner Kesava Menon wrote to the government expressing objection. The indignities continued until all the satyagrahis were released when the minor king Chithira Tirunal ascended the throne.

At the forefront

    • Contribution – As president of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee he arranged for a contribution of ₹1,000. 
    • Participation – He was part of every consultative meeting, peace committee, campaign party, etc., including the eight-member deputation constituted to meet the Diwan. 
    • With leaders – Every major personality who came to Vaikom met with Periyar. This included Swami Shraddhananda of the Arya Samaj. Rajaji met Periyar. Gandhi too consulted him during his visit. Periyar was present in the small closed door meeting of Gandhi with Sree Narayana Guru.

Outcome of Satyagraha

    • Partial victory – The satyagraha ended in partial victory in 1925: 3 out of 4 streets were thrown open. 
    • Final victory came 11 years later with the Travancore Temple Entry Proclamation of 1936. By that time, Periyar had become a bitter critic of Gandhi. Even his views on satyagraha changed.


    • Periyar had arrived at Vaikom and had given a new life to a sagging movement.
    • He was jailed twice, and was the only person to be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment.
    • Apart from being the only leader from outside the State to be invited to the victory celebrations, he was even asked to preside over it.
    • Thiru.Vi. Kalyanasundara Mudaliar called him the Vaikom Veerar, the hero of Vaikom, even at the time of the struggle.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Sri Lanka

[op-ed snap] Return to the homeland


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Refugees from Sri Lanka


A criticism of the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 questions why Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka will not be given citizenship under the new law.

Influx of refugees

  • Refugees for long – Tamil Nadu began witnessing an influx of refugees from August 1983 following Black July in Sri Lanka. Indian government maintained that these refugees should go back on their own.
  • Voluntary repatriation – India has been following the principle of nonrefoulement and favouring voluntary repatriation.
  • Indira Gandhi – In 1983, Indira Gandhi asserted that the country “cannot and will not take millions of Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka”. This is keeping in mind the problems posed by the migration of refugees from Bangladesh to India in the early 1970s.

Sri Lankan refugees

  • India continued to receive thousands of refugees from Sri Lanka over the years. At one point, Tamil Nadu had 2 lakh refugees.
  • Between 1983 and 2013, around 3.04 lakh persons came to the State.

Nature of repatriation

  • Forcible repatriation – In the early 1990s, after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, a controversy erupted over reports of sections of refugees being sent back “forcibly”.
  • UNHCR validation – The Indian government agreed to allow representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to screen refugees to ascertain the voluntary nature of the repatriation.
  • UNHCR it is also involved in counselling the refugees, helping them obtain necessary documents, paying for their international travel and providing reintegration grants and post-return support.
  • Indian government – the Indian government has taken steps to facilitate voluntary repatriation. Visa fee is waived and overstay penalty is granted to non-camp refugees on a case-to-case basis. Camp refugees are given this benefit as a matter of routine.
  • Tamil refugees importance in going back – the civil war had an adverse demographic impact on the Tamils of Sri Lanka. The numerical strength of MPs from Tamil-speaking areas has gone down over the years as Sri Lanka follows proportional representation. If the refugees go back, this will help Tamils get more representatives in the Sri Lankan Parliament.

The Indo-Sri Lankan Accord

  • Reason for non-inclusion – The 1987 Indo-Sri Lankan Accord talks of repatriation.
  • The 2011 report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission set up by Mahinda Rajapaksa regime called for voluntary repatriation. 
  • It also stressed the need for creating a conducive environment for the refugees to return to and for initiating a formal bilateral consultation process.

Way ahead

  • Rajapaksas are back in power and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is receptive to the idea of refugees returning to Sri Lanka.
  • Negotiate – India should resume negotiations with Sri Lanka to give a push to the process of voluntary repatriation. 
  • Ensure safety – Sri Lanka should create conditions that will ensure the safety and security of the refugees returning to their homeland.