No need for dupatta to get Aadhaar – UIDAI

Close on the heels of a controversy set off after a fiesty blogger was denied an Aadhar card because she didn’t wear a ‘dupatta’ (shawl), the Planning Commission of India has said that there is no ‘dress code’ for Aadhar photographs.

In fact, the Commission’s Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) even went to the extent of saying that even women in burqa (a black Arabian dress) could be photographed as they are for the photograph.

“Residents who wear a turban, burkha, or any such religious/traditional headgear are not required to remove them when being photographed as part of the Aadhaar enrolment process,” it said in a clarification.

“Residents are free to wear any kind of dress that they are comfortable with at the time of enrolment, provided it does not hide any part of the face (from forehead to chin),” it said.

The issue came into the forefront after Lavanya Mohan, a witty, Chennai-based girl, tweeted that authorities refused to photograph her since she was not wearing a dupatta.

A dupatta is a shawl that was used in the old days as a veil. It is currently used to cover the upper part of a female body by draping it over the t-shirt, shirt or any other type of upper garment such as the traditional kamiz.

Chennaiites are the most conservative people in India, and while women regularly go about without a dupatta in the North (where it originated), in Chennai, ‘modest’ girls are supposed to cover themselves with a dupatta, especially when wearing tight garments.

The state of Tamil Nadu has had ‘image’ issues with the Aadhaar photographers before. According to reports, Brahmins – a class of people who wear a sacred thread under their shirts – wanted to be photographed without their shirts. They were allowed to be photographed without wearing any shirt.

The Planning Commission asked the various government agencies, such as the National Population Register, to make sure that people are allowed to pose for photographs in any clothes they prefer. It was not clear whether they could pose without clothes altogether.

“Any deviation from standard enrolment practice, such as prescribing a dress code where there is none, is a violation of the terms of engagement by the enrolment agencies. UIDAI constantly reviews the functioning of enrolment agencies and levies strict penalties, when such deviations come to light. Such instances can always be reported to the concerned Registrar or the Regional Offices of UIDAI,” the Commission said.