The government has decided to defer the first phase of Census 2021 as well as the updation process of the National Population Register (NPR) in view of the coronavirus outbreak, an order issued in this regard by the Ministry of Home Affairs said on 25 March 2020 evening. In view of COVID-19 outbreak & nationwide lockdown due to the pandemic, the first phase of Census India 2021, that is, the house listing operation & NPR updation is postponed until further order.



  1. The exercise involves participation of large number of central and state government officials as they visit every house to record the data.
  2. The Census 2021 was scheduled to be conducted in two phases. While the first phase included house listing and housing census during April-September 2020, the second phase included population enumeration between February 9, 2021 to February 28, 2021.
  3. The updation of National Population Register was proposed to be done along with the first phase of Census 2021 in all states and UTs except Assam. This is the first time that the exercise has been deferred in the history of India.
  4. The country was placed under a lockdown for the next 21 days last night. The lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his second address to the nation within a week on 24 March 2020. 
  5. According to the Health Ministry data, the number of coronavirus cases in the country has mounted to 562. The virus has claimed over 10 lives so far.

What is the NPR?

  1. The NPR is a list of “usual residents of the country”.
  2. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, a “usual resident of the country” is one who has been residing in a local area for at least the last six months, or intends to stay in a particular location for the next six months.
  3. Unlike the NRC, the NPR is not a citizenship enumeration drive, as it would record even a foreigner staying in a locality for more than six months.
  4. The NPR is being prepared under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  5. It is mandatory for every “usual resident of India” to register in the NPR.
  6. It will be conducted in conjunction with the houselisting phase, the first phase of the Census, by the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Home Ministry for Census 2021.
  7. Only Assam will not be included, given the recently completed NRC.
  8. The NPR exercise is conducted at the local, sub-district, district, state and national levels.