Haryana: Birth certificate rule robbing orphans of opportunities

  • Vishal Joshi, Hindustan Times, Karnal
  • Updated: Jan 12, 2015 09:28 IST

Those unfortunate to lose their parents are now losing opportunities for want of birth certificate. Promising student Vandana, 23, had her dreams of studying management abroad shattered last year but now she is carrying on the fight for orphans like her in the country.

On September 30, 2002, she arrived at the Mission for the Desperate and Destitute (MDD) Bal Bhawan at Phoosgarh outside Karnal. “At 11, she had been abandoned. A kindhearted rickshaw-puller found her at the local bus stand brought her to the district authorities, who moved her to the orphanage,” said PR Nath, founding president of this government-recognised facility.

“In her Bhojpuri accent, she told us that after her parents had died, the relatives she had moved in with near the Karnal vegetable market had left her at the bus stand,” said Nath, who as general secretary of the Confederation of Non-government Childcare Institutions has also written to the President, seeking a solution for the orphan children who miss out on opportunities because they don’t have birth certificates. This is at Vandana’s initiative to raise the issue with the Karnal authorities through the orphanage.

The rule

Birth registration in the state is governed by the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, and Haryana Registration of Births and Deaths Rules, 2002, made there-under. The registration of every birth and death is compulsory under these provisions. Some of the orphan children do have date of birth on high-school certificates, but a birth certificate issued by the municipality of the local health jurisdiction where the child is born is what counts for several official documentations.

Vandana, who started her education only after arriving at the orphanage, started completing two classes in an academic year by clearing all the tests. Last year, she graduated in commerce from a local private college. Impressed by her academic record, a Karnal -rigin family based in Canada offered to sponsor her for higher studies in the North American advanced country.

Beating depression

“I was close to achieving my dream until told that the birth certificate by a municipality is mandatory for passport application. For the first time, I missed my parents and family,” she told HT at the orphanage on Sunday. She faced another shock when told that the birth certificate was required also for a government job or joining other major institutes, a rule that deprives unfortunate children.

“Almost in depression, I thought of dropping the idea to continue my studies. I started teaching accounts at a private school at Ujjain and mustered the courage eventually to fight for hundreds of orphans like me across the country,” she said. Orphanage inmate Vishwas is a promising roller skater with a bronze medal from the state championships last year.

“A wonderful talent and keen to participate in national tournaments, he is handicapped by the absence of a birth certificate. Without it, he cannot compete in the right category,” said Nath, adding that the document was needed even at the time of schooladmission.

The problem is not limited to Haryana and hundreds of promising children across India lose golden chances. Deputy commissioner J Ganesan said he would raise the matter with the health secretary, as it did not have a local solution.

“Last week, the MDD management gave me a memorandum about it. Since these children were brought to the orphanages from different places, their date of birth remains unknown in most cases, and so the local health authorities cannot issue them birth certificates. I have asked the civil surgeon to also look into it,” said the DC.

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