In this Madhya Pradesh village, everyone is ‘born’ on January 1

“I think I am 30,” says Kallo Adiwasi who, according to her crisp Aadhaar card, is 39, and going by her tattered black-and-white voter ID, 49.

But there’s one thing that this member of the vulnerable Saharia tribe shares with other residents of Kakra village in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district: the date and the month of birth mentioned on the Aadhaar card — January 1.

Young or old, male or female, in fact, anyone without a proof of date of birth has been shown to be born on January 1.

“I like to tell people I am 25 in order to seem younger,” says Ashok Adiwasi, born on January 1, 1985, as per his card. “We don’t have a system of recording birthdays. I don’t even know when I was born. How does it matter anyway? We don’t celebrate birthdays.”

Jagaram, Maho, Puran, Asarapi, Radha and Jasodi and several other villagers share the same birthday. Even Ajuddi Adiwasi, purportedly 84, shares his birthday with Kallon Adiwasi, now four.

According to the policy of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), tasked with enrolling citizens under the programme, if an individual is unable to produce a proof of birth at the time of registration, they can declare it without supporting documents. In case they don’t remember the date, merely stating the age will do.

Official’s decision

In 2016, at Jakhanod village, when it was Ramadullhari Adiwasi’s turn at a registration camp, she was left stammering when she was asked her age.

“The official scanned me from top to bottom and declared that I was 39,” she says, flashing her card that shows January 1, 1977, as her date of birth.

Back in Kakra, Udaysingh Adiwasi’s date of birth on his Aadhaar card is January 1, 2004, which makes him 15. Yet, he holds a voter identity card which gives his birth year as 2000. When asked about the discrepancy, he says, “Wait, I’ll get my other Aadhaar card. It has yet another date of birth.”

In 2017, news reports claimed that nearly all residents of a tribal-dominated village in Hardwar in Uttarakhand were born on January 1 as per their Aadhaar cards. The UIDAI had clarified that as per its policy, if a person was only able to declare his or her age during enrolment, the system by default takes January 1 of that year as the date of birth. Even UIDAI CEO A.B. Pandey had given a clarification on Twitter saying: “At a later stage if the person is able to provide proof of date of birth, he/she can update the date of birth in Aadhaar by visiting any Aadhaar Kendra.”

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 3:29:32 AM |

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