The Government of Haryana has made it mandatory for parents of school going children to provide information that can be used to profile children (and their parents). A sample letter sent to parents of school children through the schools makes it clear that the information being seeked is not for the school records, but for the Government of Haryana.
The form provided in the link asks detailed information of students, including information based on caste and whether parents are in an “unclean occupation”. While the form does not mark an Aadhaar number as mandatory, the name field is mandatory and is “Name (as on Aadhaar)”.
Other information requested includes the professions, Aadhaar numbers and office addresses of parents, their income, tax paying status, PAN number, names of siblings studying in the same school and their registration number. The field for religion is mandatory and can be only one of Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain, Sikh, Parsi or “Buddist”.
Question 36 asks “Whether Parents engaged in ‘Unclean Occupation’?”
Other personal information requested includes hobbies and achievements.
In true post-Aadhaar fashion, there is no consent requested to use this information in a database.
Information of this nature can be used to profile children (and thus their families) on the basis of religion, caste and class. This data can be segmented and used to target children in a multitude of ways, ranging from the benign identification for government benefits to election campaigning. With elections coming up, this is a legitimate concern, as the BJP has been known to exploit schools to promote the party in the past. While some of the data (regarding caste, scheduled tribes, “unclean occupations” and so on) can be relevant to scholarships, collecting it from all students is not relevant to education.
It violates the privacy of students as well as their parents and the form is made mandatory for all school students and there is no question of consent of either students or parents. This information can further be integrated with other databases using Aadhaar.
The form is hosted on office.com – which is a service provided by Microsoft and the data is not stored in servers based in India and will be vulnerable to demands for information through laws of countries where the servers are hosted. This directly puts a lot of very detailed information on residents of Haryana including sensitive information like bank accounts, Aadhaar and PAN numbers within the access of multiple foreign entities.
The owner of the form and data collected from it is not known and it could be the government or an individual or even a private entity. The page in no manner indicates that it is an official government form or a form provided by the school or any indication of ownership. The official website for the Government of Haryana School Management Information System does not mention this form.
There are also technical problems with this form. With the names of both parents being mandatory along with Aadhaar information, it discriminates against children of single parents who have sole custody of children, or orphans or children of women whose father is not known – for example prostitutes. Provisions for sex being limited to male or female, the form discriminates against sexual minorities. The form discriminates against those not belonging to the named religions or those who are agnostic or atheist without any provision for alternatives outside the provided religions, which is a mandatory question. Making parents fill online forms imposes unreasonable hardship on parents who are not internet literate.
MediaNama believes that this sort of collection of information would be violative of the fundamental right to privacy of citizens and should not be collected.