In 2009, the UPA govt introduced a ‘’unique identification system’’ called Aadhar which was to encompass every single citizen residing in our country. Aadhar failed to materialize in the UPA government and was destined to be shelved. After Modi Govt came to power in 2014, Aadhar was given more teeth and two years later on 3 March 2016, a bill was introduced in the Parliament to give a legislative backing to it. Aadhar is dubbed as the world’s largest biometric system and the data is collected by the Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which is a statutory authority established on 12 July 2016 by the Government of India.
The Aadhaar project was introduced as a unique system towards creating a single specific document or number that would encompass all the details, incorporating demographic and biometric information, of every resident Indian. Currently there is an array of identity documents in India such as passports, permanent account numbers (PANs) and even ration cards. The sole purpose of Aadhaar card is not to replace these documents but can be used as the sole identification proof whilst applying for other things. Linked to various schemes and instruments, Aadhar is now mandatory to be linked to your bank accounts, mutual funds, cell number and even insurance policies. The system is expected to provide impetus in creating an atmosphere of transparency as it will help weed fake beneficiaries of schemes and direct better implementation of govt programmes.
The US had enacted ‘Social Security Act’ in 1935 which had given birth to social security numbers. These social security numbers were similar to the concept of Aadhar. This had led to violent protests then and was perceived as draconian and controversial. Over the years, these social security numbers have became instruments of citizen interaction with the state and have led to better implementation of governmental services. On the same lines, Aadhar has been a victim of fear mongering especially by the left leaning agencies and political parties. In a striking contrast, parties such as Congress who are bent towards socialist schemes are refraining from adopting a unique system which is advocating better implementation of the same schemes they usually have projected in the past.
I stumbled upon this brilliant video which explains why the opposition and a certain a section of Media is so opposed to the Aadhar Project.
Whilst, there have been loud voices generating unnecessary fears regarding big brother or govt surveillance, the UIDAI chief has dismissed those hyper inflated concerns. He even has asserted that the Aadhar system is least intrusive and is an identification number and not a profiling tool. Aadhar uses biometrics which unlike other data, it cannot be changed or manipulated. Although, the system does offer a privacy challenge, there are more damaging databases that are prevalent carrying personal information which we have no control over. This may be in the form of social media giants or even mobile operators. Concerns voiced against Aadhar specifically hold no water and are more in line with tarnishing the credibility of the govt rather than expressing genuine opposition.
Another reason for fierce opposition to Aadhar from a certain section of polity is owing to its successful implementation in govt programs. Aadhar has raised the bar of transparency, created credibility in governance and indentified free hoarders to eliminate duplications and fakes who have eaten into the system. PM Modi has reiterated the importance of Aadhar in his tweet saying that Aadhar has strengthened the process of development in the country. There is a plethora of corruption intermingled with various policy making decisions or schemes and this has branched out to every file, every office, every institute and has percolated successfully at every grass root level. In order to break from the shackles of this network of intrinsic corruption, Aadhar was one of the better measures which were applied at necessary different levels. And there are many examples to supplement and complement its effectiveness.
Aadhar has exposed a lot of scams and provided the right data of those misgivings. Numbers unearthed from the data portray a frightening picture of corruption which now stands eliminated out of the system owing to Aadhar. In education alone, more than 1,30,000 fake teachers have been identified and about 4 lakh fake students have been uncovered. This will give a major boost to resurrecting the education system in the country whose foundations may have rested and weakened on these fake numbers.
Aadhar has even percolated in to the corporate world to expose a mammoth two lakh shell companies who were nibbling into the resources of our economy. Aadhar also penetrated into welfare schemes and revealed fake beneficiaries in tune of 3.5 crore bogus LPG holders, 1.5 crore fake ration card holders and 15 lakh bogus PAN cards. MNREGA, UPA’s dream project to provide jobs was mired with 87 lakh bogus job cards and now is effectively tailored to be better implemented in the country. In addition to these mind-boggling subtractions, 500 lost children were found owing to Aadhar which highlighted it’s another useful feature.
During the days of the UPA, monumental scam figures like 1,76,000 Lakh crore loss during allocation of 2G made headlines and somehow presented India as a land of scams and financial misappropriation. In the last four years of PM Mod’s tenure, such numbers have disappeared and have been replaced by encouraging digits.
After the process of applying Aadhar into the system, a wealth of about 62,000 crore was generated which speaks volumes of its credibility rather than subscribing to its unfounded manufactured fear. Aadhar was a brilliant idea which would have left languishing inside your pocket if the Modi govt had not allowed for its effective implementation. PM Modi had famously retorted, ‘Main na Khaunga, na khane dunga’. It was not an obvious overstatement but a visionary ideal which was based on the premise of making a graft free government which will cater to transparency, accountability and maximum governance. The process of enabling a perfect system may not exist. Nevertheless, there can be an effective first step. Aadhar has given hope of providing that necessary route in enabling this vision of a corruption free society in India.