Aadhaar Card.
India has provided unique digital identification to nearly one billion people in five years, Picture: Aadhaar Card.Creative Commons/joegoaukextra4

The central government has instructed all state governments to link the Aadhaar data of school students with their caste and domicile certificates. The move is being seen as an effort to help the government disburse scholarships and other caste and domicile-based benefits faster.

As part of a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs), the government has said students are to apply for caste and domicile certificates with the help of their school's headmaster or principal when they are in standard V or VIII. This is to be an annual exercise, wherein documents are to be sent to the authorities for the certificates to be issued. 

"The concerned revenue or state government authorities will scrutinise and verify documents and issue the relevant certificates [domicile or caste] preferably within a period of 30-60 days," according to the FAQs. 

As part of the authentication procedure, the FAQs lay down the following guidelines: "The State Government may also try to get the information of students fed into the Meta Data to be made online and may link it to Aadhaar enabled data, if feasible. Sincere efforts be made to issue these certificates along with Aadhaar Number. [sic]" 

This effectively means that the Aadhaar details can also be used to prove whether a person belongs to a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe, and if they do, which one they belong to.

This is expected to help students get their hands faster on scholarships issued on the basis of reservation or domicile. It is also expected to help people who have complained that they have been harassed over the issuance of such certificates.

Currently, "States/UTs have their own procedure for verification of antecedents and claims of the applicants to belong to a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe including ascertainment of the permanent residence of the candidates," said the FAQs.