University students must have Aadhaar number to get degrees: UGC

Slowly but surely, Aadhaar card is going places. Places like India’s colleges and universities. In a notice issued on March 21, University Grant Commission has asked all universities in India to include Aadhaar number on a degree before it is issued to a student. The move, UGC says, will help reduce the prevalence of fake degrees and frauds.

“I request you to introduce identification mechanisms like photograph and Unique ID/Aadhaar number in students’ certificates. Such inscription, you would agree, will go a long way in uniformly marking a student’s personal identity and other associate details,” reads the notice issued to all universities.

The news about the UGC directive comes a day after Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill with all its amendments, making Aadhaar number a mandatory requirement for filing taxes. In fact, the Aadhaar number has to be linked with the PAN card or else the PAN card will be invalidated after July 1.

Although the move sounds contrary to the Supreme Court in 2015, which noted that Aadhaar couldn’t be a mandatory requirement before the court comes out with a final decision on its validity, the government is increasingly pushing for its mandatory use. The government says that Aadhaar number can be used to check fraud, tax evasion and end corruption in the country.

But it has also been seen that the government is pushing Aadhaar despite opposition and cocerns related to the safety and privacy of Aadhaar data. During Lok Sabha debate on Wednesday when a BJD MP asked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley if he the government was forcing Aaadhar on people in India, the minister replied “yes, we are”.

Aadhaar was originally conceived as an identification number that would help the government provide subsidies directly to beneficiaries. However, over the years its character has changed. Although it wasn’t originally supposed to be an ID card, increasingly it is now used as an identity card, required for a myriad of services. Not only it has become mandatory for filling tax returns but is also the preferred tool for identity for many private services like Jio and Airtel connections.