GURGAON: Haryana government has kicked off a row by introducing an admission form in government and private schools across the state seeking information about students that suffer from genetic disorders or whether parents are engaged in any “unclean occupation”. The 100-page form also includes questions inquiring Aadhaar and PAN numbers, religion, caste, income, and bank account details of parents, prompting accusations of “racial and religious profiling” from the opposition Congress.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “The kind of private info of parents being sought is the height of insanity. Calling vocation of parents unclean is absurd.” The state government said the form was intended to make sure each student in the state received the full benefit of central and state schemes. Government sources said the state education department had been using the form in government schools for years and it was being sent to students of private schools for the past two years “without anyone ever reading the fine print.” The Haryana state government issued a statement saying, “It's surprising that parents who admittedly pay tax on time and are not being asked to share their PAN number (not mandatory) could object to disclosing their annual income when practically all scholarship schemes have an income ceiling.”
Following controversy over the mention of “unclean occupation” in the form, the 'Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme for Children of Those Engaged in Unclean Occupation', has now been referred to as 'Pre-Matric Scholarship to the Children of Those Engaged in Occupations Involving Cleaning and Prone to Health Hazards'. The circulation about continuation of the scheme is dated April 2, 2018. With the ministry’s latest circular having the changed nomenclature, it was unclear when this had been effected. Though the Education Department maintained that the change had been conveyed in the circular for continuation of the scheme, it could well be an oversight that the change in name and use of “unclean occupation” went unnoticed in the past and got noticed only after the Congress raised a red flag.