Skip to main content

Food security? Tribals rendered 'niraadhaar' without aadhaar in Gujarat's Adivasi belt

By Pankti Jog*
Government data on Universal Identity (UID) or aadhaar website may show a coverage of up to 95% till March 2019. But ground realities are not so glorious. In fact, villages of Devgadh Baria block of Dahod, a predominantly Adivasi district in Gujarat's eastern tribal belt, are facing the bitter truth: That you are virtually a niraadhar (orphan) without an aadhaar number.
An old woman, aged 75, has 21 members in her house, but they do not get ration, as many of them do not have aadhaar. And as for those who do have, it doesn't get linked to the ration card for some strange reason. Jokhmiben goes around to meet everyone in the village to narrate her story with the hope that her problem would be resolved one day. But she is just one of the thousands in those villages of Devgadh Baria who do not have aadhaar and can't get ration.
Aadhaar was introduced by the erstwhile UPA government and was opposed by opposition parties and social activists alike. However, after 2014, the Government of India started promoting it. Soon, Gujarat, claiming to be model state for the country to follow, was declared to have maximum coverage of aadhaar registration.
It was indeed a crucial time for everyone. Mid-day meals were closed for children who didn't have aadhaar. Pre-school anganwadi workers and public distribution system (PDS) ration shop holders almost threatened people that they would be excluded if they didn't have aadhaar. Camps were held. Block-level officials offered aadhaar to all those who could access those camps.
“They were asking for birth certificate. In a large number of villages of Dahod, you will find many who have not bothered to go in for birth registration. Many children in schools and kids in anganwadis do not have birth registration document", a villager complained to me during my recent visit to Devgadh Baria.
This villager continued: "People migrate for six months to other districts. Many a time women are here in the village, child is born, but formalities are never completed. Talatis (village level revenue officials) often do not come to these villages, as they have under their charge not one but many villages. They sit at the block level office. One has to go to Devgadh Baria town if we want to meet them.”
The government is known to be boasting of great successes of the Matrutva Sahay scheme -- meant for young mothers. Some of the most marginalized mothers, I was told, do not get any benefit of the scheme as they do not have aadhaar.
A widow pension scheme form seeks 21 different types of certificates, affidavits and verifications to be taken from different offices
A member of a women's organization working in this area complained, "Paper work for getting any certificate, or document, is very complicated. Women have to run from pillar to post to collect those documents." She showed a widow pension scheme form which seeks 21 different types of certificates, affidavits and verifications to be taken from different offices.
Higher officials, of course, claim that you do not require so many documents for making aadhaar, but agencies, including lower-level officers, do ask for ration card, voter ID, birth certificate etc.
A local official told me, “Government is doing so much for them, why can’t they understand that aadhaar is a must?", adding, "If they can’t get their aadhaar done, we will not be able to help them in any way... There may be one or two persons who do not have aadhaar, our survey tells us that our coverage is 99%.”
I was left wondering: Is this because of wrong reporting regarding coverage of aadhaar in the same way as India is claimed to have been declared open defecation free (ODF)? It seems, false data on services provided to people have become the biggest enemy for accessing these. In these villages, you need to search for a toilet if you want to use one.
A social worker told me, "These villages have a very high malnourishment level, and it is challenge for the government, society, social workers to overcome the lag. While officials sitting in Gandhinagar deny that services are depending on aadhaar, the most needy are the most excluded, too."
Indeed, the bitter fact is that in these villages aadhaar has made people even more vulnerable.
---
*With Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel, Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.