National Register of Citizens of India
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) (ৰাষ্ট্ৰীয় নাগৰিক পঞ্জীকৰণ) is a register containing names of all genuine Indian citizens. The register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India.  Census of India.The NRC is now being updated in Assam to include the names of those persons (or their descendants) who appear in the NRC, 1951, or in any of the Electoral Rolls up to the midnight of 24 March 1971 or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to mid-night of 24 March 1971, which would prove their presence in Assam or in any part of India on or before 24 March 1971.
The update process of NRC started in the year 2013, when the Supreme Court of India passed orders for its update. Since then, the Supreme Court (bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Rohintan Fali Nariman) have been monitoring it continuously. The entire project is headed by the State Coordinator of National Registration, Assam, Mr Prateek Hajela; under the strict monitoring of Supreme Court of India.
- 1 Purpose of NRC
- 2 Background
- 3 Guidelines for NRC Update
- 4 Beginning of the Update Process
- 5 Methodology
- 5.1 Publication of Legacy Data
- 5.2 Distribution and Receipt of Application Process
- 5.3 Verification Process
- 5.4 Publication of Part Draft NRC
- 5.5 Complete Publication of Draft NRC
- 5.6 Receipt and disposal of Claims and Objections
- 5.7 Publication of Final NRC
- 6 Innovative Use of Technology: Barriers and Strategies
- 7 Publicity Measures Undertaken to Empower the Public about NRC
- 8 Grievance Redressal Mechanism
- 9 Awards and Achievement
- 10 References
Purpose of NRC
The purpose of NRC update is to identify Indian citizens from amongst all the residents of Assam thereby leading to identification of illegal migrants residing in Assam, who entered Indian territories after the midnight of 24 March 1971 and to determine the citizenship of the applicants who have applied for inclusion of their names in the updated NRC.
In the 19th & 20th century, Colonial Assam (1826–1947) witnessed migration from various provinces of British India especially after the Yandabo treaty (signed on 24 February 1826). And this unrelenting migration from East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh led to a perceptible change in the demographic pattern in some districts of the Province.The liberal attitude of the Colonial authorities further encouraged the continuous arrival of peasants from Bengal to Assam in search of fertile lands. As early as 1931, C.S. Mullan, the Census Superintendent in his census report even stated:
“Probably the most important event in the province during the last 25 years- an event, moreover, which seems likely to alter permanently the whole feature of Assam and to destroy the whole structure of Assamese culture and civilization has been the invasion of a vast horde of land-hungry immigrant”  (Politics of Migration by Dr.Manju Singh, Anita Publications, Jaipur, 1990, Page 59)
Post partition too, the matter of influx didn’t die down. Excerpts from White Paper on Foreigners' Issue published by the Home & Political Department, Government of Assam on 20 October 2012 – Chapter 1, Historical Perspective, section 1.2 reads thus – “Following Partition and communal riots in the subcontinent, Assam initially saw an influx of refugees and other migrants from East Pakistan. The number of such migrants other than refugees was initially reported by the State Government to be between 1,50,000 and 2,00,000 but later estimated to be around 5,00,000.”
Considering the seriousness of the matter concerning the persistent influx of illegal migrants, the Government of India went on to formulate the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950. This act which came into effect from 1 March 1950 mandated expulsion of illegal immigrants from the state of Assam. To identify illegal immigrants, the National Register of Citizens was prepared for the first time in Assam during the conduct of 1951 Census. It was carried out under a directive of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) by recording particulars of every single person enumerated during that Census. However, this measure against illegal migrants too suffered a major setback due to the fact that only from October 1952 onwards the regulations of passport and visa became operational between India and Pakistan. Further, "the definition of a foreigner to cover a Pakistan national was only clearly spelt out with the amendment of the Foreigners Act 1946 in 1957".
In the meanwhile the issue of illegal infiltration was becoming formidable in the state of Assam. The Registrar General of Census in his report on 1961 Census assessed 2,20,691 infiltrants to have entered Assam.
In the year 1965 the government of India took up with the government of Assam to expedite completion of the National Register of Citizens and to issue National Identity Cards on the basis of this register to Indian citizens towards identification of illegal immigrants. But in 1966 the Central Government dropped the proposal to issue identity cards in consultation with the Government of Assam, having found the project impracticable.
In a notification issued by the Government of India in the year 1976, the State government was instructed not to deport persons coming from Bangladesh to India prior to March, 1971.
Between 1948 and 1971, there were large scale migrations from Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) to Assam. Given this continuing influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into Assam, student leaders in 1979 came out in fierce protest demanding detention, disenfranchisement and deportation of illegal immigrants from Assam. The historic movement which came to be known as Assam Agitation or Assam Movement was initiated by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP) and lasted a span of 6 years. Reportedly considered by various intellectual and media forums as one of the largest mass movement led by students’ union, the six-year-long agitation left behind thousands of bleeding hearts, empty wombs, and bloodstained fields. The movement, however, culminated in the signing of the landmark Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) - the Assam Accord. It was signed by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Central and State Governments on 15 August 1985, at the behest of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in New Delhi.
The Accord ended the agitation and it brought along a number of clauses that were to be implemented to curb the illegal immigration issue. As per the Assam Accord, 1 January 1966 was determined to be the precise date based on which the detention and deletion of illegal immigrants from Assam will take place. It allowed citizenship for all persons coming to Assam from "Specified Territory" before the cut-off date. It further specifies that all persons who came to Assam prior to 1 January 1966 (inclusive) and up to 24 March 1971 (midnight) shall be detected in accordance with the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1939. Name of foreigners so detected will be deleted from the Electoral Rolls in force. Such persons will be required to register themselves before the Registration Officers of the respective districts in accordance with the provisions of the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939 and the Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1939. Foreigners who came to Assam on or after 25 March 1971 shall continue to be detected, deleted and expelled in accordance with law.
However, even after the Accord was put in place and signed, the process of detecting and expelling immigrants never really officially took place. In fact, the only attempt at detecting foreigners by updating the National Register in Assam was through a Pilot Project which was started in 2 circles (referred to as Tehsil in some states), one in Kamrup district and another in Barpeta district in the year 2010, which ended abruptly within 4 weeks amidst a huge law and order problem involving a mob attack on the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Barpeta that resulted in police firing killing 4 persons. Considering the volatile nature of the issue, for a long time particularly after the experience of the pilot project, NRC update was considered almost an impossible task.
But ultimately it was taken up at the behest of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India’s order following two writ petitions by Assam Public Works and Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha & Ors. Hon’ble Supreme Court in 2013, headed by the bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohintan Fali Nariman, directed the Union Government and the State Government to complete the update of NRC, to be implemented in adherence to Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship Rules, 2003, in all parts of Assam with the objective to rule out immigrants from the state. Pursuant to the directive of the Hon’ble Court, the Registrar General of India via its notification Number S.O. 3591 E dated 6 December 2013 notified commencing of NRC. That was the beginning of the gargantuan task identification of illegal migrants and the Supreme Court thereupon took on the task of monitoring the entire process of NRC Update in Assam.
The Honourable Supreme Court is closely monitoring the process and has been holding hearings since the implementation of the project in the state in the year 2015 with the launch of Legacy Data Publication in February 2015. The bench constitutes of Honourable Justices Shri RanjanGogoi and Shri RohintonFaliNariman. The Honourable Bench until date have heard over 38 hearings in regards to the matters of NRC Update.
To make the process of NRC update smooth, the Honourable Supreme Court in its order dated 21 July 2015 passed the following directions:
- We make it clear that complaints with regard to any obstruction in the matter of preparation/update of NRC by any person or authority may first be brought to the notice of the Court appointed Committee and the said Committee, upon due enquiry, will submit necessary report to the Registry of this Court where after the same will be brought to notice of the Bench.
- We expect all authorities to act faithfully and diligently to carry out their assigned tasks to ensure smooth preparation of NRC and publication thereof within the schedule fixed by us. This is in reiteration of the mandate contained in Article 144 of the Constitution of India. It is not necessary for us to emphasise that any person found to be creating any obstruction or hindrance, in any manner, in the preparation of the NRC would be subjected to such orders as this Court would pass in such eventualities.
In reference to the above Para, it is worth explaining the role of Article 144 of the Constitution of India enforced by the Honourable Supreme Court of India to ensure smooth operations and implementation of each phase of NRC update in the entire state of Assam.
As per Article 144 of Constitution of India, "Civil and judicial authorities to act in aid of the Supreme Court.—All authorities, civil and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in aid of the Supreme Court." [d]
Further Article 142 of the Constitution of India reads: "142. Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court and orders as to discovery, etc.-(1) The Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it, and any decree so passed or order so made shall be enforceable throughout the territory of India in such manner as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament and, until provision in that behalf is so made, in such manner as the President may by order prescribe. (2) Subject to the provisions of any law made in this behalf by Parliament, the Supreme Court shall, as respects the whole of the territory of India, have all and every power to make any order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person, the discovery or production of any documents, or the investigation or punishment of any contempt of itself."
Guidelines for NRC Update
The NRC is updated as per the provisions The Citizenship Act, 1955 and The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 (As amended by 1. G. S. R. 803(E), dated 9 November 2009 (with effect from 9/11/2009.), Ministry of Home Affairs (Office of Registrar General, India), Order No. S.O. 596(E), dated 15 March 2010, published in the Gazette of India, Extra, Part II. No. 504 S.3(ii), dated 16 March 2010 p. 1.). As per the two statutes, the eligibility status would be ascertained based on the NRC, 1951, Electoral Rolls up to 1971 and in their absence the admissible documents up to 24 March (midnight) 1971.
Who are eligible for inclusion in the updated NRC?
- Persons whose names appear in NRC, 1951.
- Persons whose names appear in any of the Electoral Rolls up to 24 March (midnight), 1971.
- Descendants of the above persons.
- Persons who came to Assam on or after 1 January 1966 but before 25 March 1971 and registered themselves in accordance with the rules made by the Central Government with the Foreigners Registration Regional Officer (FRRO) and who have not been declared as illegal migrants or foreigners by the competent authority.
- People who are original inhabitants of Assam and their children and descendants who are citizens of India provided their citizenship is ascertained beyond a reasonable doubt by the registering authority.
- ‘D’ voters can apply for inclusion of their names in the updated NRC. However, their names will be finally included only when the appropriate Foreigner Tribunal declares them as non-foreigners.
- Persons who can provide any one of the documents issued up to midnight of 24 March 1971 as mentioned in the list of documents admissible for citizenship.
- All Indian Citizens including their children and descendants who have moved to Assam post 24 March 1971 would be eligible for inclusion in the updated NRC on adducing satisfactory proof of residence in any part of the country (outside Assam) as on 24 March 1971.
- All members of the Tea Tribes shall be covered under ‘Original inhabitants of Assam’ category provided for under Clause 3(3) of the Schedule of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
- All such original inhabitants shall be included on the basis of proof to the satisfaction of the Registering Authority. On the establishment of the citizenship of such persons beyond a reasonable doubt, their names shall be in the updated NRC.
Beginning of the Update Process
Updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state of Assam is the most extensive citizen engaging exercise undertaken in any Indian state, perhaps the first of its kind even globally, that touches the lives of every resident of the state. Once Registrar General of India appointed Shri Prateek Hajela as the State Coordinator for the project, an innovative and a highly structured plan was put in place to carry out the process of NRC update.
Setting up of an Innovative Technical Mechanism
For development of transparent and efficient systems to implement the sensitive and challenging job of NRC Update, large scale IT deployment became inevitable. NRC update project in Assam has set a new paradigm in residents’ data collection, processing and management of the data so collected, document scanning, verification and digitizing. Development of over 20 largecustom software applications, over 2500 digitization hubs and a state of art Data Centre, and extensive manpower involvement (involving over 30,000 government officers and 10,000 contractual/ outsourced staff) was set up to take on the process of NRC update.
|BESPOKE SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS DEVELOPED FOR NRC|
|1||Digitized Legacy Data Development (DLDD) was designed and developed by Guwahati based IT firm Bohniman Systems Pvt. Ltd.||8||Correction of e-Form 1 data (e-Form 2X) was designed and developed by Guwahati based IT firm Bohniman Systems Pvt. Ltd.|
|2||Offline Application Form Receipt (e-Form 1) was designed and developed by Guwahati based IT firm Bohniman Systems Pvt. Ltd.||9||Verification Teams' Report Generation was designed and developed by Guwahati based IT firm Bohniman Systems Pvt. Ltd.|
|3||Online Application Form Receipt was designed and developed by IT firm Wipro Infotech Ltd.||10||Computerized Family Tree-Manual Family Tree Match (e-Form 3) was designed and developed by Guwahati based IT firm Bohniman Systems Pvt. Ltd.|
|4||Offline-Online Application Form Receipt was designed and developed by Guwahati based IT firm Bohniman Systems Pvt. Ltd.||11||Combined Verification Report (CVR) generation (e-Form 4) was designed and developed by IT firm Wipro Infotech Ltd.|
|5||Document Segregation and Metadata Entering (DOCSMEN) was designed and developed by IT firm Wipro Infotech Ltd.||12||Recommendation of Circle/Tehsil Officer on claim of applicants was designed and developed by IT firm Wipro Infotech Ltd.|
|6||Digitization of Field Verification Result (e-Form 2 FVR) was designed and developed by Guwahati based IT firm Bohniman Systems Pvt. Ltd.||13||Approval of Deputy Commissioner/District Collector/ District Magistrate on claim of applicants was designed and developed by IT firm Wipro Infotech Ltd.|
|7||Map based display of performances at district/circle/NSK/village level was designed and developed by Guwahati based IT firm Bohniman Systems Pvt. Ltd.||14||Software for transliteration of data digitized in English to Bengali and Assamese was designed and developed by Guwahati based IT firm Bohniman Systems Pvt. Ltd.|
After successful setting up of a team and a foolproof technical system, the entire process of update came into play.
Setting up of NRC Seva Kendras (NSK)
In order to aid and assist the public in enrolling themselves in the NRC update process ICT (Information Communication Technology) enabled Help Desks named as NRC Seva Kendras (NSKs) were set up across the state[a]. NRC Seva Kendras (NSK)were set up in each district of Assam; each NSK covering an approximate of 2,500 households[b]. NSK acts as epicentre for all the NRC activities starting from assisting the public in searching the Legacy Data, distribution of Application Form, receipt of Application Form, carrying out all the data entry work, displaying of Draft NRC and so on.Each NSK is equipped with sophisticated software for Legacy Data Search in three languages, namely English, Assamese and Bengali & besides that, adequate hardware such as computers, scanners, & furniture are made available for public convenience.
Some of the rules pertaining to NSKs are such - The Application Form can be submitted only in the designated NSK that covers applicant’s present address. The designated NSK shall receive Application Form only from the villages/wards earmarked under it[c]. Officials of the designated NSK will visit the address given under "Present Address" to conduct verification of applications received from areas covered under that particular NSK only.
Some of the rules pertaining to NSKs are such - The Application Form can be submitted only in the designated NSK that covers applicant’s present address. The designated NSK shall receive Application Form only from the villages/wards earmarked under it. Officials of the designated NSK will visit the address given under "Present Address" to conduct verification of applications received from areas covered under that particular NSK only.
The mechanism adopted to update the NRC 1951 has been developed from scratch owing to the fact that there is no precedence of such a mammoth task ever undertaken in India or elsewhere that involved identification of genuine citizens and detection of illegal immigrants using technology since it involved data of over 3 crore people and over 6.6 crore documents. The guidelines under which NRC Update has been taken up is as follows –
The process of NRC Update is divided into the following phases:
1) Publication of Legacy Data
2) Distribution & Receipt of Application Form
3) Verification Process
4) Publication of Part Draft NRC
- Complete Publication of Draft NRC
6) Receipt and Disposal of Claims & Objections
7) Publication of Final NRC
Publication of Legacy Data
To claim eligibility for inclusion in NRC the applicants had to prove their residence in Assam (or in any part of the country) up to 24 March 1971. As per statutory requirement, the NRC authorities had to publish copies of NRC 1951 and Electoral Rolls of all years up to 24 March 1971 (collectively named as Legacy Data). Easy accessibility of these documents was the key to ensure effective public engagement in the process. About 6.26 lakh pages of such old documents were available across the state, but most of those were in poor condition as can be seen in the image of Original NRC 1951. It would not have been possible for the public to search for their names in the heaps of dilapidated documents. To address this concern, NRC authority decided to digitize and develop the legacy data and make it available in the easily searchable format. 2.01 crore records were digitized and were assigned a Unique "Legacy Data Code" from 6.26 lakh pages of such legacy documents. All these pages were then converted into images through photographic scanning and assigned unique image IDs and linked to the 2.01 crore records for preserving the database, establishing the unique identity of records and producing true copies of Legacy Data for publication. The data was transliterated to make it search enabled in Assamese, English and Bengali. Out of the total 8 crore words found in the Legacy Database, an "Assam Data Dictionary" was prepared with 24 lakhs unique words. 25 GB of SQL database and 240 GB image files were installed in a short span of 10 days in 5000 laptops spread over 2500 NRC SevaKendras (NSKs) specially set up for free search and issue of Legacy Data. Legacy database was also made available on the public domain through NRC Website. Issue of 77 lakh Legacy Data Codes in NSKs and 68 lakh through the web in a period of 6 months proved to be the game-changer in NRC update. Out of 68.23 lakh Application Forms received from the public, 95% applicants submitted Legacy Data as supporting document to prove their claim for inclusion in NRC. This indicates to the indispensability of Legacy Data development exercise which set the ball rolling for NRC update in Assam
Two set of documents had to be furnished by the applicants for inclusion in the updated NRC. They are -
- List A Documents
- List B Documents
List A Documents
For inclusion of names of any person in updated NRC, the applicants must produce any one of the following List A documents issued before 24 March (midnight), 1971 where the name of self or ancestor appears (to prove residence in Assam up to 24 March (midnight), 1971):
- 1951 NRC
- Electoral Roll(s) up to 24 March (midnight), 1971
- Land & Tenancy Records
- Citizenship Certificate
- Permanent Residential Certificate
- Refugee Registration Certificate
- Any Govt. issued License/Certificate
- Govt. Service/ Employment Certificate
- Bank/Post Office Accounts
- Birth Certificate
- Board/University Educational Certificate
- Court Records/Processes
Further, the following two documents are also accepted as supporting documents if accompanied by any one of the documents listed above:
- Circle Officer/GP Secretary Certificate in respect of married women migrating after marriage (can be of any year before or after 24 March (midnight), 1971).
- Ration Card issued up to the midnight of 24 March 1971 can be adduced as supporting documents.
List B Documents
If any of the documents of List A is not of the applicant himself/herself but that of an ancestor, namely, father or mother or grandfather or grandmother or great grandfather or great grandmother (and so on) the applicant then have to submit List B documents to establish relationship with such ancestor, i.e., father or mother or grandfather or grandmother or great grandfather or great grandmother etc. whose name appears in List A. Such documents shall have to be legally acceptable document which clearly proves such relationship. The applicants must produce any one of the following List B to establish the linkage:
- Birth Certificate
- Land document
- Board/University Certificate
- Bank/LIC/Post Office records
- Circle Officer/GP Secretary Certificate in case of married women
- Electoral Roll
- Ration Card
- Any other legally acceptable document
Distribution and Receipt of Application Process
For the convenient update of NRC, the application process was facilitated to the public in both online and offline modes. People opting for the offline mode had to visit their nearest NSK for filling up and submission of their application forms. The NSKs received applications from 9 AM till 6 PM, sometimes till late hours depending on footfall of the public. Every applicant received a photocopy of his/her entire form submitted along with an acknowledgement receipt containing a unique Application Receipt Number (ARN) issued against the form.Three Model Seva Kendras were also set up in Guwahati in the line of Passport Seva Kendras which are models of excellent public service delivery. The model NSKs will continue as a Permanent Enrolment Centre for continuous update even after publication of NRC.
For the Online mode of application, NRC online form was made available to the public. People opting for online mode had the option of submitting the form via their smartphones and tablet devices as well, in addition to accessing the form via a desktop/Laptop. It is to be noted that the online form issued is unique in nature, owing to the fact thatit was designed to collect data for the entire family in average 24 fields and 2-3 pages of scanned documents and one photograph for each person. It may be mentioned here that average family size for Assam is 5 members per family. This very well establishes the robustness of the online Application Form architecture. Further, tools for cropping, rotation, compressing conversion photos (including JPG to PDF) were also integrated for smooth processing of the online applicants.
The online process was also made convenient for applicants who lacked access to stable internet connection; preventing them from going through with online application process uninterrupted. This was done by integrating an innovative offline-online facility of form receipt, which allowed offline filling up of Form and online submission as and when network connectivity is available. To add value to facilities provided, map-based tools such as Know Your NSK, and Know Your Ward were developed to ensure a trouble-free application submission experience.
Distribution of Application Form (May 2015)
Distribution and Receipt of Application Form took off initially on 9 May 2015 with a trial run of the NRC Application Receipt Software at Chandrapur 3 NSK under Chandrapur circle of Kamrup Metropolitan. For this purpose, a limited number of Application Forms was invited. Soon after, the Application Receipt phase was launched in a full-fledged manner in the month of May 2015 and the online submission facility was launched on 22 June 2015. A huge pool of human resourceswas trained and engaged to ensure smooth and fast-paced implementation of the process within the set time period of 31 August 2015.
Application Forms were distributed house to house by government functionaries in the entire state and could be collected by the applicants from the NRC Seva Kendra’s (NSKs) in case it was lost or damaged. Facility for online download from the NRC website http://nrcassam.nic.in/application-form.html was also made available. One Application Form per household is distributed, which has the provisions to provide details of up to six (6) members. For families with more than 6 members, additional forms were issued. One could also take a Xerox copy of the form themselves. Application forms were made available in Assamese, English, Bengali and Bodo languages.
Guidelines to fill up the Application Form
The guidelines of form fill up were made available in the form of instruction sheets distributed during the Community Awareness Meetings. That apart video tutorials for each side of the Application Form, Side A, B, C and D were developed and made available online as well as distributed in the form of CDs in each district at the capacity building meetings. Applicants could also call NRC toll-free helpline number 15107 (from Assam) and 18003453762 (from outside Assam) or visit their designated NSKs for any assistance required in filling up the Application Form. To know more about the process of how to fill up the application form, see the video at http://nrcassam.nic.in/videos.html which was made available for the applicants.
Receipt of Application Form
The process of Application Receipt was implemented through two platforms – the Offline at the NSKs and Online through the NRC website. For the first time ever a unique combination of offline and online technique, namely e-Form was also launched, which played an important part in reaching out to the rural population of the state.
Receipt of Application Form offline at the NRC Seva Kendras (NSKs)
The NRC Seva Kendras (NSKs) served as the Application Receipt Centre. On receipt of a duly filled in Application Form along with required documents, the NSK operator handed over a printout of the scanned copy of the Application Form along with a summary of documents submitted by the applicant as Acknowledgement Receipt bearing an Application Receipt Number (ARN). In order to fulfil this requirementof offline receipt of Application Form, a software module called NRC Application Receipt Software was installed on each NSK laptops for smooth operations of the Application Receipt phase.
Enormous IT enablement was done for citizens through the Online Receipt of Application Forms, which was made available through the internet at the website of www.nrcassam.nic.in and could be accessed from anywhere in the world. All that was required was online registration by the user/applicants by using a mobile number (within India) or an email address (outside India) to which a One Time Password (OTP) is sent. Citizens were facilitated with the luxury to submit their Application Forms with tools for cropping and rotating of photographs, scanning and image conversion tools of the documents that they uploaded from the comforts of their home. The Online Application Form was a perfect replica of the Physical Form with the same data fields. The online application enabled an autosave option, which meant that the user need not fill the form at one go and could submit the form at his/her own convenient time. Apart from being user-friendly, it saved a lot of time in comparison to the lengthy process of physically queuing at the NRC Seva Kendras.
In short, the online receipt of application forms allowed the user to submit their registration details online, submit their NRC Application Forms online and finally generate their Acknowledgement Receipt Number on successful submission of the forms online.
A first of its kind combination of the online and offline facility was introduced for benefit of the rural public. The application was introduced at a later stage and could be accessed through any Government authorised Common Service Center (CSC)/Arunudoy Kendra. The Common Services Centres are being operated by the Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE) who ensure the percolation of the National e-Governance Plan at the grass root level. In total 1148 SAHAJ Arunodoy Kendra’s have been rolled out so far in the State of Assam, out of mandated 2833 Centres to July 2009), Cyber Cafes, any friend or internet access point for uploading photos and supporting documents. The e-form was made available at the NRC Assam website www.nrcassam.nic.in from 6 August 2015 onwards, through which anyone could download the e-form or copy in pen drives from the CSCs. One could easily fill up the e-form online or offline as per their convenience from literally anywhere.
The last date of receipt of Application Form was 31 August 2015.
The sole objective of the verification process is to ensure that no ineligible person gets entry into the updated NRC and that no genuine person is left out form the NRC. The verification process consists of the following steps:
The process of office verification focuses on establishing the authenticity of the documents submitted by validating the same with issuing authority. As per Citizenship Rules, verification is a multistage process involving house to house verification and document verification that involves comparing documents submitted (to trace particulars or linkage up to the aforementioned cut-off date) with the backend available with issuing authorities of such documents. Each of 6.6 crore documents such as Electoral rolls, land records, birth certificates, university certificates, bank documents, post office documents, passports etc. belonging to about 3344 different categories of issuing offices, in addition to over 71,710 schools, had to be sent to its issuing offices to check authenticity of such documents.
DOCSMEN - Document Segregation and Meta-Data Entry
The only way of accomplishing the verification task was to set up a specialized mechanism equipped with the best of IT-based work flow management system to send the documents to the respective backend authorities (offices from where the document was issued) through the development of specialized and sophisticated software named as "DOCSMEN – Document Segregation and Meta-Data Entry". The DOCSMEN software is used for feeding information about documents such as destination, document code, metadata and then slicing as per document details for electronic sending to various destinations inside and outside Assam. It may be added that during Application receipt, the same Application Form and its supporting documents were scanned in a single PDF and the PDF was then sliced in Application Forms, supporting documents based on their page numbers. This software is installed in over 6000 standalone laptops deployed in NSKs and circles and the data is then uploaded into a central database for further processing. A special utility is used at central Data Centre for generation of documents in lots (a set of 50 documents) of the same category from same issuing authority but received from varied sources/across the state. This enables systematic sending of documents to issuing offices for backend checking. For example, for the State Board of Education, any lot would contain only the document of a particular year and examination centre irrespective of the location where such documents were submitted. As such, each of the 6.65 crore documents is packed into lots of 79534 issuing authorities for sending electronically to such issuing authority. This bespoke software handled robust data and enabled processing of crores of documents in a systematic format that enabled completion of verification of 4.52 crores of documents in a span of 8 months. Without a state of the art Document Management System, it would have taken years to achieve such kind of progress.
The process of field verification through the house to house visit to over 68 lakh applicants was also made systematic through the computerized generation of pre-filled Verification Teams Report (VTR). VTR is a single page document generated using digitized Application Form data for each applicant that is to be verified by the verification team. VTR serves two purposes – first by making the job of Verification Teams easy by providing prepopulated data related to applicants systematically in one page where the Teams have to record the result only in "Yes"/ "No" format. Additionally, the VTR also indicated the fields in which the applicants have not provided full detail in their Forms so that the Verifying Officers can complete those during field verification. The second purpose served by VTRs is to allow quality checking of the first round of application form data digitization done by operators. As VTRs are taken to field for the recording of results, the VTs get a chance to correct any digitization error and take the second opinion on the spelling of names, surnames etc. directly from the applicants.
The process of field verification focuses on establishing if the document submitted actually relates to the applicant/ member or not. Field verification further establishes an identity of the applicant/ member and authenticates his/ her linkage claims.
Family Tree Matching Technique
In the list of unique initiatives undertaken, a major innovation is the generation of Computerized Family Tree. This technique is used to find out if the Legacy Data published by NRC authority has been misused by an imposter. As the Legacy Data has been digitized and each record is assigned a unique number, it is possible to find out a list of users of one particular Legacy Data and then cross check this computer-generated list with actual family members declared beforehand in a form named "Manual Family Tree". Imposters often "adopt" a person in whose name legacy document is available and then get linkage documents prepared accordingly to establish this relationship. Some of the documents used by imposters are not even forged, such as electoral rolls, which are issued without checking the authenticity of particulars. For this reason, it is found that the document verification process itself is not a foolproof process in finding imposters. As such this technique of comparing Computerized Family Trees (CFTs) with Manual Family Trees (MFTs) would be the most accurate method to determine the authenticity of claims of the NRC applicants.
Final eligibility for inclusion of names is determined only if, the results of all the three verification process - field verification, office verification and Family Tree Matching are found positive. As mandated in the Citizenship Rules, 2003 all cases, after ascertaining final eligibility at LRCR level, is referred to the DRCR for his/her approval before publishing the Part Draft NRC and Complete Draft NRC.
Verification of Family Tree commenced on 15 February 2018 in Assam. Applicants whose family tree details mismatch with other members of the family will be called for family tree verification. Mismatches arising due to giving nicknames in family tree details, name/ surname changes due to marriage, missing out names of all family members due to lack of knowledge or ignorance, etc., will be corrected during these proceedings.Applicants will receive Letter of Information (LOI) delivered at their households by NRC field level functionaries. Details of date, time and venue will be mentioned in the LOI. However, those who receive this letter should not think their application is considered doubtful or will lead to exclusion from NRC. It is an opportunity to ensure Legacy of each genuine citizen is protected from being misused by any unauthorized person to wrongfully enter NRC.
It is to be noted that a few applicants whose names are already included in Part Draft NRC may also receive an LOI. In such cases, they need to appear and testify to stop people from misusing their Legacy Data mischievously.
Publication of Part Draft NRC
The first part of draft NRC, known as the Part Draft NRC has been published on expiry of midnight of 31 December 2017 by the Office of the State Coordinator of National Registrar (Assam) in all the villages/wards where the Application Forms were issued & received. The total number of people included in the Part Draft NRC is 19010932 member out of 3.29 crore applicants. The rest of the names are under various stages of verification, and the entire process will be completed once the verification of all these names has beendone.
Steps implemented to Check Name in Part Draft NRC
Following facilities were made available for the general public to check their name in the Part Draft NRC:
- Visiting Designated NSK – Until 31 January 2018
- Online Publication on the website
- Toll-Free Helpline Facility
- Pre-registration SMS Service
- On-Demand SMS Service
Visiting Designated NSK
– Until 31st January 2018
All the applicants could visit their respective NSKs after the expiry of midnight of 31 December 2017 to check their names in the Part Draft NRC. This offline facility was available from 1 January 2018 to 31 January 2018 at all the 2500 NSKs across Assam on all working days.
Online Publication on the website
All the applicants could check their name in the Part Draft NRC online. An ARN Based Search in Part Draft NRCportal was created where one could check their eligibility status in the Part Draft NRC by logging in to the following Search portal and enter their 21 digit ARN:
- · http://nrcdraft.in/NRCDraft/Draft.htm
All the above ARN Based Search in Part Draft NRC portal were hosted on the following websites:
- · www.nrcassam.nic.in
- · www.assam.mygov.in
- · www.assam.gov.in
However, the online search facility was discontinued on 5 February 2018.
Toll-Free Helpline Facility
Calling on NRC’s 24/7 toll-free numbers – 15107 (within Assam) and 18003453762 (outside Assam) could also enable a person to know his/her inclusion of name in the Part Publication of Draft NRC.
Pre-registration SMS Service
Prior to the publication of Part Draft NRC, pre-registration facility was initiated for applicants to receive automatic SMS update on their inclusion of names in the Part Draft. To pre-register, an applicant was required to type ARN <space>21 digit ARN number and send an SMS to 976555655, 9108464438, or 9108464450. This pre-registration facility was made available from 6 a.m. onwards of 28 December 2017 till 6 p.m. of 31 December 2017. On successful pre-registration, one will receive the status of their inclusion of name; Member ID wise in Part Draft NRC after the expiry of midnight of 31 December 2017. Example of Sample Status: Member ID 1, 3, 5 included. Member ID 2, 4 pending for verification for ARN 101884857638456272891 – PART DRAFT NRC ASSAM.
On-Demand SMS Service
The facility to receive status on the inclusion of name via SMS continued in the form of On-Demand SMS service post publication of Part Draft NRC for the first two weeks of January 2018. The service has been discontinued thereafter. Availing of On-Demand SMS Service required an applicant to type ARN <space>21 digit ARN number and send an SMS to 976555655, 9108464438, or 9108464450 (similar to that of pre-registration facility).
Post Publication of Part Draft NRC
A total of 19010932 names of applicants have been included in the Part Draft NRC out of a total of 3.29 crore applicants. The names of remaining applicants will be included in the Final Draft NRC if found eligible after entire verification process is completed. Also, names of applicants who submitted GP Secretary Certificates haven’t featured in the Part Draft NRC as their verification was on hold until the ruling of Supreme Court on 5 December 2017; stating that GP Secretary certificates can be used as a valid identity document for claiming citizenship. Therefore, verification of applicants who submitted GP Secretary Certificates has been resumed after the publication of Part Draft NRC; and if found eligible, will be included in the Final Draft NRC.
Complete Publication of Draft NRC
The Complete Draft NRC will be published after the entire verification process is completed. The date of publication of the Complete Draft will be notified separately. This will be a consolidated list including names of all eligible applicants; implying that names which featured in Part Draft NRC will also be included along with the names of remaining eligible applicants whose names didn’t feature in the former draft.
Receipt and disposal of Claims and Objections
This phase will be initiated after publication of complete Draft NRC. People whose name does not feature in the Complete Publication of Draft NRC can claim for their inclusion of name in NRC. Applicants may also raise an objection if they feel an illegal immigrant’s name have been wrongly included in the NRC.
Publication of Final NRC
Final NRC will be published after disposal of all claims and objections.
Innovative Use of Technology: Barriers and Strategies
Extensive use of IT was developed and deployed to use in the NRC process. Some of the major breakthroughs in the IT usage are listed below:
|The first and the biggest barrier was that there was no precedence until the date of any other project that was to decide the future of the state - its residents in terms of the status of "citizen".||Several brainstorming sessions were undertaken with stakeholders for suggestions, consultations with IT pundits, the launching of pilot exercises of various processes and implementation of sophisticated software to gauge the magnanimity of the exercise and volume of transaction that is required to be done in due course of time.|
|Tracing linkage of all residents upto the cut-off date of 24thMarch (midnight), 1971 has been the biggest challenge.||The tracing of linkage was made possible by digitisation and development of Legacy Data and publishing the Legacy Data to make it available to the people of Assam. To know more, see Publication of Legacy Data.|
|Application Form Submission by the public in place of the house to house enumeration and building capacity of the public to correctly fill up the form.||Facility for offline/online submission of Form and extensive capacity building exercise to enable public to fill up the form on their own. To know more, see Distribution of Application Process.|
|Verification of documents with the backend for establishing authenticity||Development of sophisticated customised software known as "DOCSMEN – Document Segregation and Meta-Data Entry" used for slicing and segregating about 6.6 crore documents..|
|Ensuring that the Legacy Data easily made available by NRC Authorities is not misused||In order to ensure that the Legacy Data is not misused by any imposter to claim inclusion in NRC, an innovativeFamily Tree Matching Technique is used.|
|Vetting of each case by the Deputy Commissioner/District Registrar of Citizen Registration (DRCR)||As the law provides for the DRCR to vet each and every case before publishing the NRC, a software has been prepared to make this provision implementable. The verification process being multi-stage, poses a requirement for developing a complete performance report card to display the performance of each applicant across parameters such as house to house verification, document backend verification, family tree match result, matching of photo submitted in the Form with the actual person etc. to enable taking the final call on his/her eligibility for inclusion. The Local Verification Officer designated as local Registrar also need to capture the verification results received from various issuing authorities. Consequently,the software has been developed for generating Combined Verification Report and recording the final recommendation of the local Registrar based on one’s performance across parameters. As per statutory requirement of taking the final decision on the eligibility of applicants by the Deputy Commissioner/District Collector designated as District Registrar, the recommendation of the Local VerifyingOfficers designated as Local Registrars are required to be referred to the District Registrar.|
|Setting up of state-of-the-art Data Center at office premise of the State Coordinator, NRC at Guwahati.||A state-of-the-art Data Center was established in the office premise of the State Coordinator, NRC at Guwahati. Some of the highlights of the Data Center were:
· In-Box Fluid Solution (Rittal from Germany)
Only installation in India and 2nd globally
· 11 Blade Servers, 3 Rack Servers (40 TB) – in High Availability Mode
· Automatic temperature control, CCTV and inbuilt Security Alarm System
· Fire Proof,Oracle OVM (Virtual Machine Manager) 26 Virtual Machines
· Virtual Tape Library
· Hyper V installed
· 50 MBPS main link from BSNL and redundancy from Trans Virtual
|Proper connectivity had to be ensured from NRC Data Center to field offices like CRCR and DRCR and also to the System Integrator Data Entry Centre (SIDEC)||A huge volume of data has been transmitted from state to field (district/circle/NSK level) and again from the field to state. Various medium of data transmission has been used such as third-party media (pen drive/hard disk), FTP (File Transfer Protocol), internet/MPLS. NRC project has put Assam State Wide Area Network (ASWAN) and NICNET to its maximum use for the purpose of sending documents to districts and circles for verification and for uploading the results of verification to the central server. ASWAN connectivity is utilized to connect 114 circles to State Data Center and for remaining 43 circles, services of BSNL have been procured. NICNET connectivity at district offices was leveraged to connect to the State Data Centre. In the process, the existing infrastructure and efficiency of ASWAN and NICNET have been strengthened. Data synchronization of from remote areas to state data centre can be counted amongst the record-setting accomplishments of the project.|
Without extensive IT deployment and development of bespoke solutions likedigitized legacy data development, document segregation and metadataentry, micromanagement and business development tools for daily appraisalof the performance of 2500 centres (NSK), 157 Tehsil offices and all districts, implementation of this Honourable Supreme Court-monitored project would not havebeen possible within short timelines. No other IT project of this scale hasbeen implemented in Assam that covered 100% households in the state.
Publicity Measures Undertaken to Empower the Public about NRC
Considering the sensitivity of the matter and the magnitude of the project, it was important to reach out to the public in a meticulous way and ensure complete public awareness. For this, a strategic information dissemination and communication plan was adopted. A 360 degreeIEC and media campaign was designed and implemented for generating awareness and dissemination of information to target audience across Assam/India/Globally through the following platforms:
1) Community Level Meetings (CLMs): At the grass root level, community awareness meetings were conducted across the state. The meetings were addressed by DRCR, CRCR, and LRCR at various levels.Trained Master Trainers were appointed to educate and engage the public on all matters relating to NRC: from the introduction of the concept of ‘What is NRC?’ to the significance of NRC in everyone’s life, how to search for Legacy Data, filling up of Application Forms, and checking their names in the Part Draft NRC.
2) Leaflets: Various kinds of leaflets were distributed at various CLMs and other public gatherings. These were also circulated through the official NRC website and social media platforms.
3) Video Tutorials: Tutorials were made available through the official website www.nrcassam.nic.in and social media platforms like Facebook,Twitter and YouTube.
4) Field Level Speakers (FLS): This mode of communication was used to reach out to people living in rural and remote areas as well as those living in hilly and riverine areas. It was also used extensively during special mobilization drives in a phased manner of the NRC update process.
5) Print Media: Print Advertisements were developed in 4 languages – English, Assamese, Bengali and Bodo for information circulation through all leading newspapers.
6) Electronic Media: Various Audio Visual productions in local languages were produced and telecast on different Television Channels, Radio stations and screenings in various movie halls across Assam.
7) Social Media: Optimum use of social media and SEO was done for corresponding with the public, and information was distributed through infographics, creative and informative videos. Print Advertisements, Leaflets and Electronic Media commercials were also published for increasing reach to people.
8) NRC Website: A complete ICT driven and user-friendly portal, the NRC website has been the official platform for all matters pertaining to the subject. An exhaustive literature on NRC is made available besides several citizen centric activities to educate the public and inform them about all latest developments.
Grievance Redressal Mechanism
For active public participation, a one-stop Grievance Redressal System was developed and implemented through which the complaints/grievances related to NRC can be addressed.
Awards and Achievement
The project NRC Update in the state of Assam bagged 1st Prize in the "Digitizing India" Awards by CNBC-TV 18 and Cisco and adjudged as the best project in the category of "Digital Innovation in Citizen Services (eGovernance)". The project also roped in the Best Project of Wipro (the System Integrator for project NRC) in India and Middle East region in 2015-16 out of over 30,000 other projects.
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