Birth certificates are the initial proof of identification and a necessity moving forward

As one would probably predict and imagine, a large number of people in India, do not have their birth certificates. The main reason for this is the fact that birth certificates, although mandatory are not issued to children by a very large population of the poorer section of society. Statistically put, 38% of children under five years growing up in the rural parts of the country, do not have a birth certificate.

In a recent article, the Indian Government mentioned that any documents related to the date and place of birth of an individual can be submitted to prove that Indians citizenship. This information goes into the National Register of Citizens which helps the Government keep an eye on the statistics in the country.

According to an IndiaSpend analysis a large number of Indians, especially older citizens, do not possess birth certificates. Based on a survey conducted by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), in the years 2015-16 three in five, that is 62.3% of children, under the age of five had their births registered and possessed a birth certificate, which was seen as a major improvement from the 26.9% in 2005-06.

Nearly every fourth child, ie.23% belonging to the poorest wealth group did not have a birth certificate despite registering their birth as compared to 10.5% of the richest. Simply put, according to UNICEF, in the last five years, in India, nearly 24 million children under five did not have their births registered.

Furthermore, the birth certificate is one of the most popular linkage documents admissible as per NRC (National Register of Children). Most children under 18 years would not have any other documentation since they are not old enough for most of the application processes, making their birth certificate is the only document to provide a linkage to their parents.

All across the country, children without birth certificates are usually marginalized and face challenges getting admitted to private schools despite the Right To Education Act, which specifies that no documents are needed for school admission. This also leads them to not have their tenth or twelfth standard mark sheet, all because their parents could not provide them with their birth certificates.

As mentioned earlier, it is a requirement to register every birth in 21 days after the child is born, according to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969. Unfortunately, only 84.9% of all births were registered in 2017, the latest figures by the Civil Registration System of Office of the Registrar General of India show. This is quite concerning since India has a very large population of children that do not have their birth certificates.

If a birth is not registered and the family requires a birth certificate at a later stage, it can be registered later. However, there is a possibility that there would be a fee to be paid along with a police verification that would have to be handled.