India is known as the most populous democracy in the world. It’s also home to the largest national biometric digital ID system in the world. Aadhaar.
According to a report from Reuters last week, tens of millions of children in India are at risk of being excluded from school this year because they’re not linked up to India’s biometric digital ID system.
Aadhaar, India’s federally-operated biometric digital ID system, collected the names, finger print scans, and eye scans of 1.2 billion Indians.
According to the report, India’s 2009 right to education act provides the legal right to free education for all children from six to 14 years old.
But apparently, only children willing to submit to invasive biometric recording and tracking are able to enjoy this “right”.
Dipa Sinha, a professor at India’s Ambedkar University, told Reuters that requiring the biometric digital ID for public school “puts the onus on the citizen, and makes it much harder for them to access” their own rights.
The report referenced an 11-year-old girl named Shifa who has been barred from going into the sixth grade because she does not have an Aadhaar biometric ID.
Her parents made several attempts to get her one, but between the hoops and behemoth bureaucracy, she fell through the cracks. Now Shifa is simply learning to read and write at home using the newspaper.
“Without Aadhaar, we have no other option,” her mom said.