News, Culture & Society

Completing a birth registration to reduce the number of children in rural India without birth certificates

More than 35% of children under the age of five years do not have their birth certificates. The number is significantly high for a country where the ​birth certificate is a primary requirement for processing all paperwork and Government application processes. The first step to getting a birth certificate is registering the birth, but they have to handle the process correctly since it can get quite challenging to get through when done through the Registrar of Births and Deaths. According to a report by IndiaSpend, the largest number of Indians, who are older citizens to a greater extent, do not possess their birth certificates.

To improve a system that is already taking a long time to get through, the Government pushed out the new eGovernance platform that people could use to get through various processes without too much trouble. People can access all Government systems and offices for most of India through the eGovernance platform, including applying for multiple documents and coordinating payments to several offices.

They created the system to make application processes a lot smoother for people getting through them. The primary reason for smoother processes was to allow more applicants to get through them, and fortunately, the number of applications started increasing. According to the Government statistics, information gathered through the years showed that in 2000, only 56% of newborns were registered, while a decade and a half later, through multiple changes made to the process, in 2017 at least 15% births were unregistered.

The Government did a lot of work to increase the number of people getting through the process.

They started creating awareness about the process and how important it was to get through it. They also assisted with the process through the centres where the child was born that were doing all the work to get through the registration. Birth certificates could only be provided once the birth was registered. Additionally, they were allowing people to get through the process by creating accounts on the eGovernance platforms which were convenient.

There were a lot of challenges that people without birth certificates had to face. Other than massive injustice since they did not have an identity or could not prove their age, they could not apply for various documents either. These issues lead to many people treated unfairly, leading to working as children, being pushed through illegal activity among a lot more. The Government released posters and advertisements on the radio and television to cater to rural India to teach them about the significance of registering their children at the time that they were born. Most of the people in rural India did not see any benefit to the process since there was no immediate requirement for a birth certificate. They only saw a short term requirement of the document, with the first time it was needed, years down the line, probably at the time of school admission. Running around to get the certificate at that point would not be ideal since they would need a lot of documentation to get through the process.

Additionally, birth registrations are the first step when it comes to applying for a birth certificate. After registering the birth through the Registrar of Births and Deaths, they can apply for a birth certificate at any point that they need one. The information would be saved with the central Government, while applicants can access it at any point in time. There are many benefits to registering a birth, including providing the Government with accurate statistics to understand the happenings in the state. The information gathered allows the Government to learn the infant mortality rates, which is the number of child deaths under one year of age per 1,000 births, which can only be as accurate as of the information they receive.

According to a 2019 report, the infant mortality rate was 28.3 deaths per 1,000 live births. The information gathered showed a positive response since it was a decrease from previous years. Additionally, the same details provide an understanding of the diseases affecting the people of the same age or the issues affecting the young in different parts of the country. Without birth certificates, gathering information would be quite challenging.

When it comes to registering a birth, all the Indian states have state-run websites to assist people. Furthermore, the medical institution where the child was born in the first place insists that they register the birth. The staff and medical practitioners usually work on registering the birth and are open to providing all the paperwork needed to get through the process. However, parents can take up to 90 days if they want to register the birth themselves. Additionally, if they want to register the birth later, they would have to provide additional paperwork, which might even need some police documentation, to get through the process.

If parents are getting through the process online, they can use the state-run websites or the eGovernance platform and create an account for themselves. Other benefits of using the platform include getting through the process without trouble since the same account is used for all other Government documentation and paperwork mentioned on the website. When it comes to the birth registration process, along with other Government related processes, like voter identification or Government schemes, the website works on them all. Other than registering the birth, they can apply for documents to make changes to their birth certificates or apply for a duplicate, if they lost the original.

Rural India has a large group of people who prefer not getting through the process, but the reasons were likely that they were not having their births at medical centres but in houses. Furthermore, many people were uneducated, found the process quite challenging, and would give up halfway through.