No Aadhaar, no scholarship

S&T Ministry notification says students need it to pursue career in science

A key set of scholarships that encourages middle school students to pursue careers in science, collegians to opt for basic science research and women to return to labs after a break in career, will soon require an Aadhaar registration.

A March 9 notification by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology says, “…an individual desirous of availing benefits under the Schemes is required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar or undergo Aadhaar authentication. The schemes are DISHA Programme, INSPIRE Award, INSPIRE Scholarship, INSPIRE Internship, INSPIRE Fellowship and INSPIRE Faculty”.

The last date for application would be September 30 and, were a scholarship-holder to live in a block or taluka without an Aadhaar enrollment centre, the Science Ministry would be required to set up a facility, the notification adds.

The INSPIRE (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research) scholarships and DISHA scheme (for women scientists) have been designed to reach students and women-researchers across all districts.

As of July 2016, 1.3 million students have benefited from the three-pronged INSPIRE scheme.

As part of this, 10,000 students get ₹80,000 to pursue a research career; 200,000 children from every school in India are awarded a ₹5,000 cash prize every year to develop science models with 60 of them chosen to display it at Rashtrapati Bhavan, and newly-minted scientists are offered an assured 5-year research contract.

‘Not mandatory’

The Aadhaar link to the scholarship comes even as a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, led by former Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, said that the use of the Aadhaar card was purely voluntary and not mandatory.

While the Supreme Court is yet to rule on whether the Aadhaar scheme is an invasion of a citizen’s right to privacy, it has only allowed it to be used for subsidies under the public distribution system and for distributing LPG cylinders.

However, the government now uses it to manage a variety of schemes, from grants to Bhopal gas leak victims and the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. It also decided last month that children wanting to avail midday meals in schools need to be Aadhaar-registered.

[Copyright by Jacob Koshy]