news Thursday, June 04, 2015 - 05:30
Last month, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said that it has formulated a programme through which orphans in the child care institutes in Karnataka would be provided Adhaar cards, if their parents’ details were available. The UIDAI also stated that a certificate would be issued by a gazetted officer (in-charge of the institute) as a valid identity proof and address proof in place of the Adhaar card if all the details of the orphan were not available. While the move is being hailed by many, child welfare activists recommend caution as the easy process for acquiring genuine documentation might end up helping child trafficking. By and large, orphanages have welcomed the move. Shashi, the founder of the Shri Sai Krupa Charitable Trust in Bengaluru says that children in the orphanages needed a proper identity proof as the identification which the institution provides is not considered a legal document. She also says that Adhaar cards would help orphans to get admissions in schools, avail scholarships and open bank accounts. “Children get scholarships, but the amount is not provided in hand, instead transferred to their bank account. In order to open a bank account, submitting an identity proof is mandatory, which we could not do until now. The Adhaar card would eliminate all these issues,” she says. The orphanage has 32 kids registered with the Child Welfare Department, but they have not heard from the government about the process yet. Fr. Binny Kumpukal, the Director of Bosco Mane, a shelter home based in Bengaluru, agrees, “ Both private and government hospitals demand an identity proof, thus making it difficult for the orphans to utilize these medical services, as most of them have no documents or any clue of their backgrounds.” Further, the ministry of external affairs has declared that a birth certificate was not obligatory to acquire a passport application of orphans or abandoned children born on or after January 26, 1989. In place of the birth certificate the applicant could provide other attested documents which could act as an evidence of date of birth. This step was taken in order to facilitate adoption by foreigners and to provide the orphans opportunities for higher education and jobs in foreign countries. This has lead to several activists raising eyebrows.  P.Manorama , the former chairperson of Child Welfare Committee (CWC) says that Adhaar cards were being provided to only those orphans from institutions which were registered with the Child Welfare Committee and acknowledged that it was necessary and helpful. She claims that there were several loop holes in the schemes. “We do not have a list of all the orphanages and the number of orphans. Most of them have not registered themselves with CWC. There is a major chance of these provisions being misused. Registration should be made mandatory,” she says. She further asserts that issuing passport to orphans, without proper documents could give rise to illegal activities like child trafficking. “This scheme should have been formulated for specific children, who would have been issued a passport under thorough surveillance. Why a blanket law?” she asks. She further adds that the government should concentrate on solving the basic issues faced by orphanages and should inspect orphanages to find out if they have adopted appropriate child protection measures.  “Several orphanages have been struggling to acquire Community certificates and Destitute certificates, the government should concentrate on these issues instead,” she said.