Home / Politics / Policy /  UIDAI plans to formalize child enrolments for Aadhaar

New Delhi: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) plans to formalize the enrolment process of children under the Aadhaar programme.

“We plan to identify clusters of 5-7 schools or anganwadis (day care centres) and set up permanent Aadhaar enrolment centres," an UIDAI official said, requesting anonymity.

With enrolment of adults almost complete, it is children below the age of 18 who are yet to be covered. “Child enrolment is an ongoing and never-ending process and so we need a permanent solution for children and new enrolments," he said.

On 30 September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called a meeting of state secretaries as well as other stakeholders in the Aadhaar programme and asked them to push ahead with their enrolment initiative, as reported by Mint (http://mintne.ws/1jzjnOz). States were directed to set up camps in schools and anganwadis, especially in rural areas, to enrol children in the Aadhaar programme.

According to the UIDAI official, of the 350 million or so people who do not yet have Aadhaar numbers, around 250 million are below the age of 18.

“We have had meetings at various levels and we will soon come out with a plan for such enrolment centres," he added.

Once the entire adult population is covered under the programme, it will be the newborns who will get added to the population and will need to be allocated an Aadhaar number. “So, this enrolment system is going to be permanent," the official said.

Currently, a person who wants to enrol for Aadhaar needs to visit an organization such as a bank authorized by UIDAI or special camps held by such an organization. For child enrolment in villages, the authority periodically sends officials to schools.

The current arrangement of occasional visits to schools has not been effective. As per UIDAI data, as on 30 September, when states were asked to push for child enrolment, the percentage of children enrolled was 59.9% in states and Union territories where UIDAI undertakes enrolments, and 57.1% in states and Union territories managed by the Registrar General of India.

The figure has improved marginally to 61.3% and 58.6%, respectively, two months on. At the 30 September meeting, Modi asked for the enrolments to be completed by end-2015 and said he would oversee the process.

The official cited above said child enrolment is not easy owing to a number of reasons.

“When an official goes to a particular school or anganwadi, many children are not present and they get missed out," he said.

Also, in the 0-5 years category, many children, especially in rural areas, are not given a proper name and so parents are reluctant to enrol them under names that could change.

Another reason for the low enrolment of children is because, unlike adults, there are no immediate benefits that an enrolled child stands to get.

The Supreme Court, which is hearing a case against Aadhaar on grounds of violation of privacy, has allowed the use of the Aadhaar number for the rural job guarantee scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, pensions given by the central and state governments and the Employees’ Provident Fund scheme, the public distribution system and the distribution of cooking gas and kerosene.

The case has been referred to a constitution bench which is yet to be constituted. However, the apex court has allowed fresh enrolments under the project.

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