Difference between National Population Register (NPR) & Census

By Sudheer Kumar K|Updated : February 7th, 2021

Union Government is all set to carry out two mega exercises: Census & updating data of the National Population Register. The first phase of house listing and housing census and the National Population Register (NPR) was to be rolled out in some States on April 1 2020 but has been postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19. 

In this article, we will discuss the difference between Census and NPR in detail. 

Difference between National Population Register (NPR) & Census

The National Population Register (NPR)

  • The NPR, as the name suggests, is a register of usual residents of the country.
  • It is 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.

A usual resident is defined, for the purposes of the NPR, as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more or intends to reside in that area for the next six months.

The Citizenship Act, 1955 mandates registration of every citizen of India and issue of a national identity card.

Assam is excluded because the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise has already been conducted in the state.

NPR exercise is done under the ages of Registrar General of India (act as the “National Registration Authority”), who is also the Census Commissioner.

NPR collects:

  • Demographic details like name, relationship to head of household, father's name, mother's name, spouse's name (if married), date of birth, place of birth, sex, marital status, nationality, present address of usual residence, duration of stay at present address, permanent residential address, occupation, educational qualification.
  • Biometric data also. In case of any discrepancy between Aadhaar and the NPR data, the latter would prevail.


Census is conducted once in every ten years.  It is the largest single source of a variety of statistical information on different characteristics of the citizens of India. The first census was conducted in India in 1872. Last census was conducted on 2011.

Census is conducted on the basis of the Census Act, 1948. The 2021 Census will be done in two phases:

  • In the first phase, the work of house-listing or housing census was supposed to be conducted from April to September 2020.
  • In the second phase, the enumeration of the population will have to be done from February 9 to February 28, 2021, with reference moment as 00:00 hours of March 1, 2021.

What is collected in Census?

It serves the basis for reviewing the country's progress in the past decade, monitoring the existing schemes of the government and planning for the future

  • Provides detailed and accurate information on demography, economic activity, housing and household amenities, literacy and education, fertility and mortality, urbanisation, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, language, religion, migration, disability and so on.
  • Detailed survey on gender and literacy rate, number of towns, slum households and their population will be conducted.
  • Information related to sources of potable water, energy, irrigation, method of farming, whether a house is pucca (concrete) house or thatched or others are also collected.
  • Collection of data related to cultivators and agricultural labourers, their age and sex, occupational classification of workers in the non-households industry,business, trade, profession or service by class of worker and sex.

Difference between NPR and Cesus

1.Legal BasisCitizenship Act, 1955 and Citizenship Rules, 2003Census Act, 1948 
2.PurposeTo create National Registration Identity Card (NRIC)

Assessment or Review, Policy and Planning

3.Information collecteddemographic as well as biometric detailsliteracy, employment, residence, migration, marriage, economic activity and income etc.
4.Data PrivacyNo requirement of confidentiality of dataNeed to maintain confidential and anonymous
5.PunishmentPunishment in case of non-disclosure of informationNo punishment in case of non-disclosure of information


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