Has Aadhaar scheme created more errors than corrections?
What is up
All of us know the importance of identity proof in our state. In fact in a conflict zone like ours it is considered a lifeline. Even as the details of our personal information may be dotted across various systems, most of the time this information across these systems is found inconsistent. And it’s here this situation leads to confusion.
We have come across several enrolment models where personal information of citizens has been stored, but these models have not proved efficient. Multiple ID proof systems like passport, PAN card, ration card and voter card are in existence for a long time now, but these too are loaded with their own pros and cons. They differ in population coverage, comprehensiveness of data, cross acceptance and international acceptance. And one of the major drawbacks with the existing ID proof system has been that it lacks potential to cover the entire population. Moreover, the multiplicity of such systems has rendered it impossible to correlate information across various sectors and even across institutions within the same sector for providing better services to people. Similarly, different agencies of government are unable to correlate their data relating to any particular individual.
These loopholes in our multiple ID proof systems led to invention of unique identification project to cover whole population at individual level in the country. The Government of India announced the Aaadhar scheme in 2010 to provide unique identification numbers to ensure that citizens gain efficient access to national schemes. The Aaadhar identification, a 12-digit unique number is aimed to establish the identity of a citizen and cover several government schemes under food and nutrition, employment, education, social security, and healthcare.
Though purposed initially with ensuring that the marginalized and poor of the country gain access to government benefits, the span of the programme gradually evolved to act as a single identification mechanism for individuals who are tied to the fiscal system, including banking, insurance, and government schemes.
Notably, J&K State Government was proactive to get its state subject covered under the project and had on July14, 2010 entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), agency of the Government of India responsible for implementing the project in India. Under the project, UIDAI will be issuing Aadhaar, to all the residents of India.
Even as the scheme is yet to be rolled out in the state, innumerable pitfalls have emerged after rolling out this project in some states across India. One of the most risk prone areas is the privacy of an individual. With its biometrics and the ability to facilitate convergence of information-bona fide or otherwise-has the potential to compromise privacy and put people in trouble.
Trust factor is the most highlighted drawback against the scheme. The political scenario prevailing over the last decade in the country has raised many eyebrows on the political governance. In this background some questions are yet to be answered. How many trust those rulers in the parliament where more than 60% have multiple criminal charges on them? And how responsible are these people to take care of personal data of the citizens? So, don’t you think sharing personal data is as good as inviting a practical risk?
It’s worth mentioning that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance while expressing concern on biometrics, had stated that collection of biometric information and linking it with personal information is not within the ambit of the Citizenship Act, 1955, and Citizenship Rules, 2003, and hence ‘needs to be examined in detail by Parliament’. The committee has opined that the Aadhaar scheme is ‘full of uncertainty in technology as the complex scheme is built upon untested, unreliable technology and several assumptions’. Notably, biometrics technology has been found to be unreliable in several scientific studies.
What happened to these observations of the committee? Nobody knows.
Another important point - though the Aadhaar is ‘not mandatory’, its implementation has been tailored non-optional. Recently it was reported in national media that a Major General (Retd) was threatened that his pension would be denied because of his not having an Aadhaar number. The retired major general has approached the prime minister and called this threat of denial of rights like pension, as deceitful coercion which is an undemocratic act of a democratic government.
So, isn’t Aadhaar scheme threatening exclusion from rights, benefits and services?
As far as our state is concerned, the delay in its implementation has automatically insulated us from the controversies. When there is serendipity that many good things are happening through Aadhaar, then only the project should be rolled out in the state. This project should not create more errors than it can correct.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 8 Feb 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 8 Feb 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Feb 2013 00:00:00 IST
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