Is Aadhar A Universal Remedy For Everything?

Fingerprints Are Constantly Changing

Fingerprints Are Constantly Changing
Fingerprints Are Constantly Changing | Source

Aadhar Scam In The Offing?

Aadhar Scam In The Offing?

Distribution for the Aadhar cards has begun earnestly in India. People are crowding to obtain their Aadhar cards as it has been proclaimed by the government agencies that the Aadhar will be a universal remedy to obtain everything a citizen needs. Aadhar scheme is being implemented by the Government of India at an expenditure of over Rs.50000 crore. In fact there may be an ‘Aadhar scam’ reported by the media in future involving huge money being siphoned off by some minister or other. But sceptics have raised several doubts about the workability of this scheme in India.

BJP Mooted The Idea In 2001

Before we examine the criticism that is being levelled against the Aadhar scheme, we will first look into what is this Aadhar scheme. In many foreign developed countries, each citizen is being provided with an identity card with a unique number. This identity card serves for several purposes like passport, visa, obtaining social benefit like pension and opening of bank accounts etc. A proposal was mooted in India also to provide Indian citizens a unique identity card (UIC) similar to the foreign countries. This proposal was accepted by the BJP-led NDA government in 2001. The government announced as a policy decision that every citizen of India has to register himself and obtain this unique identity card.

BJP Wanted To Stop Illegal Migration Of Muslims For Electoral Gains

BJP government was also worried about illegal migration of Muslims from Bangladesh to West Bengal and North Eastern States. In order to prevent this illegal migration from Bangladesh to India, the then government mooted this proposal of providing identity cards to the Indian citizens. The BJP government brought several amendments in the citizenship act in 2003 to implement the Aadhar scheme. According to these amendments, it was made compulsory for every citizen of India to register his/her name with the government and to obtain the Aadhar card. The present government is insisting on providing details through biometric methods.

Fingerprints Are Constantly Changing

Citizens are asked to furnish their fingerprints and print of eyeballs. There is no surety that mistakes will not happen in this method. Even several foreign countries have first tried to implement obtaining identity of citizens through biometric methods and later on abandoned it due to practical difficulties. What are the difficulties in obtaining fingerprints of the citizens? Some categories of citizens cannot give their fingerprints accurately. These include people doing hard labour, people working in chemicals, boys, girls and elderly people. It is also pointed out that the fingerprints are constantly changing for all the people over a period of time. Eyeballs also undergo changes for all the people. Fingerprints and eyeballs can also be affected by external factors like accidents. Even though such changes are proportionately small, there is a distinct possibility of the identity card being rejected at a later date because of these small changes.

Identities Can Be Obtained Through RTI

There is also no guarantee that the identities and other details that are being obtained for the Aadhar scheme will be kept secret. Under the Right to Information Act, anybody or any company can obtain these details at any time by paying a small amount to the government. Is it morally right to provide information about a citizen including his identity marks to some other people or company? Inspite of the morality that is involved here, will the Right to Information Act make it compulsory for the government to share the details of its citizens with anybody who wants that information? The Right to Information Act may make the identity and personal details of the citizens a tradable commodity.

Home Ministry Is Responsible

Maintaining the details of the population of India is a responsibility of the Home Ministry. It is the responsibility of the Registrar General of India working in the Home Ministry to gather the necessary information from the citizens of India and to preserve them. As a corollary, it is the responsibility of the Home Ministry to take steps to provide Aadhar cards to the citizens of India. In order to give training to the officials in the Home Ministry to obtain biometric details and issue Aadhar cards, the government of India created the institution called Unique Identification Authority (UIA). Nandan Nilakani, the executive from Infosys, was appointed as its head.

Chidambaram’s Ego Was Hurt

Chidambaram’s Ego Was Hurt
Chidambaram’s Ego Was Hurt | Source

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Is Aadhar A Universal Remedy For Everything?

20 Crore Aadhar Cards To Be Issued Initially

Unique Identification Authority was also given the responsibility to find out whether a citizen had by mistake or otherwise registered his name more than once and if so to remove the extra entries. But the problem started when the Unique Identification Authority started functioning on its own without being controlled by the Home Ministry. For its financial needs, Unique Identification Authority directly approaches the Finance Ministry. Unique Identification Authority decided to issue the Aadhar on its own without instructions from the Home Ministry. The government of India also permitted the Unique Identification Authority to issue 20 crore Aadhar cards to start with. Unique Identification Authority was allotted Rs.3023 crore for this purpose.

Chidambaram’s Ego Was Hurt

Being snubbed and insulted by this act, the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram wanted to sabotage the Unique Identification Authority. He waited for a chance and has now expressed doubts about the authenticity of the details gathered by the UIA. Planning Commission has also questioned the financial expenditure of Rs.3023 crore incurred by the UIA for issuing Aadhar cards to 20 crore people. Planning Commission Head Ahluwalia has written a letter to the Home Minister P Chidambaram to monitor the UIA and its activities. CAG (Comptroller & Auditor General) has started auditing the financial expenses of the UIA. UIA has opposed to this move. CAG has already embarrassed the government on many counts including the 2G spectrum.

Rahul Gandhi Wants Illegal Migration Of Muslims For Electoral Gains

Basically it is the ego clash between the Home Minister P Chidambaram and the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that is coming in the way of implementation of the Aadhar scheme. Moreover Rahul Gandhi is also having second thoughts about the desirability of issuing a unique Aadhar card to the Indian citizens. Many Muslims from Bangladesh enter India illegally and settle down in different parts of India. These Muslim immigrants vote against the BJP and in favour of the Congress in the elections. Therefore Rahul Gandhi fears that the issue of the Aadhar cards may prevent illegal migration of Muslims from Bangladesh into India and may jeopardise the chances of the Congress Party in the elections. Therefore there is a view that it was Rahul Gandhi who incited both Pranab Mukherjee and Chidambaram to fight it out and stop the issuing of the Aadhar cards.

Males Got Aadhar Cards With Female Photos

What is the experience of those people who have already obtained their Aadhar cards? In Pune, a person says that instead of his photo, his wife’s photo was fixed in the Aadhar card. Many people complained that the photos fixed in their Aadhar cards are not their own. Many males got Aadhar cards with female photos and vice versa. Many elders got their cards with photographs of children. Five people have been arrested in Bangalore for supplying forged Aadhar cards. There are still many more people doing this activity and evading arrest. Thousands of people residing in Colaba have been issued Aadhar cards mentioning their place of residence as Kolaba. Colaba is a place in South Mumbai whereas Kolaba is a place in Raigarh district of Maharashtra State.

RBI Has No Confidence In The Aadhar Cards

People applying for Aadhar cards have to get the attestation of their photos from a Group A Gazetted Officer. But a doctor in Tilak Nagar in Bangalore has been issuing such attestations without verifying the photographs and taking bribery. The government has announced that the Aadhar card can be used for all kinds of identification including proof of residence and for opening new bank accounts. But RBI has issued a circular in 2011 to the banks that banks should not open bank accounts based on the details in the Aadhar card alone and should insist on further furnishing of proof of residence. What does it show? It clearly shows that the RBI has no confidence in the scheme of Aadhar cards.

Many Forces Are Working Against Aadhar

There are more things working against Aadhar than imaginable. Home Minister Chidambaram and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee are fighting it out to display their egos. Manmohan Singh is not extending support to the scheme. Planning Commission is questioning the scheme. Rahul Gandhi is afraid that the Aadhar may stop illegal migration of Muslims into India. Therefore in the final analysis, it is doubtful whether the much talked about Aadhar can really serve any purpose.

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