Topic of the Day – National Register of Citizens

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – National Register of Citizens

It is a register containing the list of bona fide Indian citizens. Those failing to enlist their names in the register would be deemed, illegal migrants.

  • The first list was made in 1951, covering the whole of India, as per the census of that year.
  • Currently, the list is being updated for the first time, and only in Assam.

 Now, the registration is not linked to census but one has to link oneself to a family member whose name had appeared either in the NRC of 1951 or to any of the state’s electoral rolls prepared till midnight of 24th March 1971. The year of 1971 is chosen as it was agreed in Assam accord 1985. If the applicant’s name is not on any of these lists, he can produce any of the 12 other documents dated up to March 24, 1971, like land or tenancy record, citizenship certificate or permanent residential certificate or passport or court records or refugee registration certificate.

Why is the list being updated?

  • Since the 1950s, there is a lot of controversy regarding citizenship and migration issues in Assam. Original inhabitants of Assam fear that the migrants from Bangladesh would compete with them for land, jobs and consequently hamper Assam’s culture.
  • In the late 1970s, a massive drive was spearheaded by the All Assam Students’ Union, popularly known as the Assam Agitation calling for the detection, deletion and deportation of illegal Bangladeshi migrants. The whole state was then brought to a standstill as it witnessed frequent strikes, boycotting elections, political instability etc.
  • In 1985, in order to put an end to such agitations, Assam accord was signed between Rajiv Gandhi and leader of Assam movement led by All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the ‘All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad’ (AAGSP).
  • Consequently, it paved the way for the formation of government in Assam and brought about stability.
  • The demands put forth by them regarding migration issues were:
  1. All those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote.
  2. Those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported; the entrants between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
  3. Anyone who entered the state without documents after March 24, 1971, will be declared a foreigner and were to be deported.


  • However, for a very long time, the provisions in the Assam accord were not implemented.
  • In 2005, another agreement was signed between the Centre, the Assam government and the AASU and decision was taken to update the NRC on the basis of NRC 1951 and electoral rolls up to 1971.
  • A 2-year deadline was fixed to complete the exercise. As a result, a pilot project was launched in some districts but it soon erupted violent agitations by groups opposed to such exercise and the NRC update was halted.
  • In 2009 Assam Public Works (APW), an NGO filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding identification of Bangladeshi foreigners in the State and deletion of their names from the voters’ list.
  • In 2013, the Supreme Court finally ordered to complete the exercise by December 31, 2017, leading to the present updation of NRC in Assam.

National Register of Citizens UPSC