The Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying has tagged 71,699,100 (70 million) cows, buffaloes, pigs, goats and sheep through its 12-digit Pashu Aadhaar (Aadhaar for animals), Minister of State for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Sanjeev Kumar Balyan disclosed in a Lok Sabha answer.

The Pashu Aadhaar system seeks to tag all these animals using polyurethane tags with 12-digit Animal Unique Identification Number (AUID). The database is called the Information Network for Animal Productivity and Health (INAPH) while its nodal agency is the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). INAPH is thus the animal-equivalent of Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) while NDDB is the equivalent of UIDAI.

Balyan’s response suggests that these Pashu Aadhaar cards will double as the animal health card, or Nakul Swasthya Patra, at ₹4/card for the animals. Could that be an indication of what is to come for humans under the National Digital Health Mission? Under the NDHM, every Indian will be given a health ID. Like the animals, could the human Aadhaar double as the health ID, or at least act as a non-negotiable (read: mandatory) requirement for it?

States with the highest Pashu Aadhaar cards are: Odisha (8.4 million), Andhra Pradesh (8,1 million) , Madhya Pradesh (8 million), Uttar Pradesh (6.9 million), Gujarat (6.8 million) and Telangana (6.2 million).

The question was asked by BJP MPs Sukanta Majumdar (Balurghat, West Bengal), Vinod Kumar Sonkar (Kaushambi, Uttar Pradesh), Bhola Singh (Begusarai, Bihar), Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo (Bolangir, Odisha), Raja Amareshwara Naik (Raichur, Karnataka), and Jayanta Kumar Roy (Jalpaiguri, West Bengal).None of these five animals have been given tags in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshwadeep Islands and Manipur.

Pashu Aadhaar: A scheme to digitise animal health

Earlier this month, in an interview with the Times of India, Union Animal Husbandry and Dairying Secretary Atul Chaturvedi had said, “Pashu Aadhaar … is further ensuring national level digitisation of animal health and traceability of milk produced.”

The Pashu Aadhaar system was introduced in August 2019 to cover India’s 94 million-strong “in milk” cow and buffalo population. It was then expanded to include all bovines, including male animals, calves, old animals, etc. The database includes the animal’s species, breed, pedigree along with information related to its calving, milk production, artificial insemination, vaccination and feeding/nutrition history.

The scheme was expanded in September 2019 to include sheep, goats and pigs to enable vaccination of 53.5 million animals under the new National Animal Disease Control Programme for FMD and Brucellosis scheme.