Students will now be required to have an Aadhaar number for getting their midday meals across the country. The HRD ministry issued a notification in this regard on the last day of February. Cook-cum-helpers working under the midday meal scheme will also have to furnish Aadhaar number. This rule will be applicable across the country, except Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya and Assam.
However, the ministry has given time till June 30 for those who are not yet enrolled. The use of Aadhaar as identity document for delivery of services, benefits or subsidies simplifies the government delivery process and enables beneficiaries to get their entitlements directly and in a seamless manner, reads the notification.
According to the ministry, the move is aimed at ensuring greater transparency and to increase overall efficiency. Of the total enrollment of 13.16 crore children, 10.03 crore children availed midday meal on an average basis in 11.50 lakh schools during 2015-16. The Central government has been trying to link the Aadhaar number with subsidy schemes related to school education.
Aadhaar is the world’s largest bio metric ID system, with over 1.1 billion enrolled members as of 28 February 2017. More than 98% of adults in India have enrolled in the Aadhaar scheme. However, of the 23.4 crore Indians who did not have an Aadhaar number in 2016, 21.7 crore more than 90% were children. In the last week, five central government ministries have issued a series of 14 similar notifications for 11 schemes, including access to primary and secondary education. This has been seen as a move in lieu with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s digitization move.
The Ministry used Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 to implement many of these rules. Section 7 states that The Central Government or the State Government may, as a condition for receipt of a subsidy, benefit or service, require that such individual undergo authentication, or furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or in the case of an individual to whom no Aadhaar number has been assigned, such individual makes an application for enrollment: Provided that if an Aadhaar number is not assigned to an individual, the individual shall be offered alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefit or service.