Indian Politics

Promises are easy. Politics is cheap.


Promises :

Keep aside the morality, the slogans and political standing.

Let’s assess the proposal in a utopia without real life challenges, red tape, corruption and the inherent contradictions it’s been fraught with.


NRC in Assam costed over 1,200 crores.

Not considering all its flaws and demands for a do over, it’s 1,200 crore spent for a state with a 3 crore population.

For an India wide NRC for 125 crore people, it would cost 50,000 crores.

Accounting for higher population density and economy of scale, we are still looking at an expense of over 40,000 crore rupees.

Now this is just the cost for the one time exercise.

Then there’s detention camps.

Estimated cost for setting up a camp for 3,000 people is 45 crore rupees.

There’s 19 lakh people in Assam alone that were declared illegal by NRC (6%)

Across India, that is nearly 8 crore people.

But again, the number of illegal immigrants are more likely to be concentrated in border states.

So, taking an extremely conservative estimate of 1 crore people ( < 1% ) who’d not have documents, the cost of setting up detention camps would be 1.3 lakh crores

The total cost to even conduct NRC would therefore be 1.7 lakh crore rupees.

Then there’s the operating costs of

1. Appeals – say 10,000 crores (20% of initial exercise cost – assumption, no source here)

2. Annual cost of keeping 1 crore people in detention centers – 12,000 crores (at 1,000 rupees per head per month – assumption but a very reasonable one)

For one year, the Government spend on NRC would be ~2 lakh crores.



Keep that in mind while you answer these questions:

1. Just how many people in India have their birth certificates?

There are millions born at home, or in rural areas who couldn’t identify a birth certificate if it was staring in their faces.

2. If we’re allowing Aadhar cards as proof, why even do this exercise? Why not use the Aadhar list as the register of citizens and save two lakh crores?

2a. Can the Government take a stand on whether Aadhar is allowed instead of swinging like a pendulum? It’s allowed one day and not allowed the next.

3. How do you even determine the religion of an illegal immigrant? They are illegal because they have no documents. Anyone could claim to be of any religion and the government has no way of proving otherwise.

Even the honorable HM couldn’t answer this when asked.

The CAA is built on being able to identify the religion. Not being able to do that renders the act meaningless.

Without it, there’s no benefit on the 2 lakh crores

4. For the people who end up in detention centers, what’s the action plan? Spend 12,000 crores every year? Rehabilitation? How much extra would that cost? And what’s even the point then?

These are structural questions.
These are existential ones that bring into question the feasibility of the proposal itself.

Remember all this is still in the ideal world where everything functions as per plan.

Now get out of the utopia and into the real world.

There’s corruption.
There s the infamous bureaucratic process.
There’s the fact that Assam exercise was ridden with errors.
There s miscommunications.
There’s notes that don’t fit in ATMs.
There s notes that lose color.



What now?

Sensationalism can drive campaigns. It is not enough to make projects work.

Now account for the state of the economy. Think of the Government’s budget.

Where will these 2 lakh crores come from? Education? Healthcare projects?

Suppose you’re an investor and this project proposal comes to you today. With all its challenges and contradictions.

Every one pitching this project has a different vision. Each contradicting the other.

Its MVP failed.

Would you take out money from your other established investments and put in 2 lakh crores into this proposal?

Would you put in any money at all?

To those asking why people are critical of this idea, in the undying words of mutual fund brokers…

Please read the offer document carefully before investing.


(These are back of the envelope calculations I did based on the sources below.

Ballpark estimates, yes, but in absence of any discussion from the government on this, it’s as accurate as we can get right now) Politics Vs Promises, anybody?

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