India’s biometric attendance push meets resistance from rural priests

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India’s national biometric ID program has been embraced in a number of sectors, including attendance tracking at schools and among government employees. But opposition to the system from rural priests has led to special exemptions for some.

Priests in small temples contended that the new biometric attendance system would hurt morale, as they lack the flexibility that some employ, according to The Hindu.

Specifically, many priests work long hours that go well beyond typical time periods for clocking in and out. And there is no process for when a priest leaves town on business or must leave due to illness, or when a replacement must fill in at the last minute.

As a result, the Archaka Welfare Fund Trust passed a resolution that will implement the biometric system in major temples, but will exempt some 3,000 priests from needing to participate. The AWFT plans to revisit the issue at a later date, when it can solidify more comprehensive service rules.
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The biometric system is tied to India’s Aadhaar system — a unique 12-digit identity number assigned to each resident. Aadhaar can be tied to an Indian citizen’s fingerprint, iris, or both, allowing users to securely access services or verify their presence.

The Aadhaar Enabled Biometric Attendance System, or AEBAS, is used to track the work attendance of government employees. By requiring workers to log in and out with a fingerprint or iris scan, the government has worked to improve efficiency, ensuring that employees arrive on time and do not leave early.

To push the system, India’s government has gone as far as to require colleges to track biometric attendance, or else lose their federal funding. Biometric attendance is also used in the nation’s hospitals.

The city of Khammam recently expanded its use of biometric attendance to apply to all municipal workers, including some 580 who are employed in its sanitation department.