A form circulated among faculty in IIT Delhi has asked teachers to urgently share their Aadhaar numbers, and also the linked phone numbers. This isn't the first time that teachers at IIT have been asked to do so, but in the past many of the faculty did not enter their Aadhaar numbers. This time however, the circular states that if a teacher does not want to share their Aadhaar number, they need to explain why this won't share this information.
The circular is marked urgent, and the text reads: "The above data is required by MHRD urgently, which includes the mobile numbers of all faculty." IIT Delhi's heads of departments have been directed to collect this information byfore the end of July, and to note the reasons for dissent from teachers who don't want to share this information.
This rushed data collection exercise is taking place at the same time that a five-member bench of the Supreme Court is expected to give its judgement on the validity of Aadhaar, which could make this entire data collection exercise worthless.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has been pushing for Aadhaar linkages in universities for quite some time now. While the drive began with collecting student Aadhaar numbers for Direct Benefit Transfers, it shifted to asking the faculty for their numbers as well.
Shockingly, IIT Delhi first attempted to acquire this information through a publicly accessible Google Sheets file that anyone can open. A number of faculty members entered their data on this link, and although the majority did not share their Aadhaar or phone numbers, there are some teachers who have shared this information on a public platform.
Going forward, if any teacher continues to not share this information in such an insecure manner, they will also have to provide an explanation for why not.
'Ghost teachers' in colleges
The main justification for collecting Aadhaar information of teachers seems to be the rooting out of ghost teachers. Livemint reported at the start of the year that around 130,000 teachers in colleges were 'fake' - nearly a tenth of the approximately 1.4 million college teachers in India.
Because of this, MHRD in 2017 told colleges and universities to submit the Aadhaar numbers of faculty members, to prevent institutions from duplicating teachers' data, officials said.
However, RTI activists said that this entire claim is bogus and that the government has taken no action. The Wire reported that there was either no data to support this claim, or the ministry did not follow-up its findings with any detailed inquiry.