Thursday, February 10, 2011

UID Number and Inclusion of Disability

Dear Friends,


Many persons with disabilities and their families in India have placed high hopes from the UID Number that is being rolled out by Government of India through UIDIAI – an attached office with Planning Commission of India headed by Shri Nandan Nilekani.

Prevailing Confusion in Disability Sector

However, there is a mass scale ignorance about its form and purpose. People have been debating that they would prefer one unifying card in form of UID which will save them from carrying hundred cards like Disability Card, PAN Card, and Voter Card etc. There has been a discussion even about the Pros and Cons of declaring disability on this card while many wanting to have it on the UID.  In fact, few even expressed that they were confused on whether to declare or not one’s disability fearing bias and discrimination. While one person with disability may be able to create good impression over others and positively change attitudes with his ability however, majority of disabled people who have not been fortunate enough to receive good education, this also might work contrary. More so when the societies have a tendency to look at the half empty glass rather than the half filled! 

Clarifications

I  thought to clarify few things which might come handy to those who want to know more about the UID for persons with disabilities. Please note that no data is being collected about disability by the UID enumerators.

First of all the UID is not a card but a unique number. It is also not to tag people on grounds of caste, creed, disability, family, language or even citizenship! Most ministries or people who opposed UID thought that it would be another Card - like Ration Card/Voter ID/Disability card or PAN Card etc. and started looking at it from their own profit/loss perspective.

However, UID is entirely for different purposes and stands on total scientific footing. This is a 12 digit number to identify every human being including an infant (newly born) residing in India, whether or not he has any identification document. This is completely voluntary and not forced upon people as of now. The information being collected for UID includes name, date of birth, father’s name / mother’s name/ guardian/ address, iris scan, fingers and thumb scan etc. while email and mobile numbers have been kept optional.

However, it is expected that gradually every resident will prefer to have this number for it provides a universal identity carrying demographic and biometric identity which cannot be duplicated. Today one person with slight changes in name or address or surname can create multiple numbers of Voter I-Cards or PAN Cards. Therefore, the unique ID Number will actually help identifying a person for all other documents such as ration card, disability card, passport, bank account etc and not be an overriding document.

Also unlike other documents which are accessible to public and private agencies, the Information available with UID will not be available to private and public agencies. In coming days, this number will surely help the persons with disabilities too in availing lot of benefits. Today it is voluntary; the day will come when everyone would crave to have this number. The government seems to have purposefully decided to tread cautiously to achieve success of this project and not antagonize the existing structures.

Hoping that each person with disability in India voluntary applies for a UID number for this is in his own interest and that all benefits, rights and schemes for equalizing the opportunities of empowerment come right to their doors, to their bank accounts, to them and are not leaked on the way to vested interests.

Regards

Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Advocate-Disability Rights

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