What is Aadhaar?
- The Aadhaar is the brand name of the Unique Identification Number that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issues to every resident of India.
- It is a twelve digit number which is linked the resident’s demographic and biometric information
- Each number relates to a set of information stored in a centralized database which aids in real time verification.
The Aadhaar Project
The Aadhaar Project was initiated by the Government of India as an attempt towards single, unique identification document that will include all the demographic and biometric information of the residents of India. The objective of the scheme is to issue a unique identification number by the Unique Identification Authority of India, which can be authenticated and verified online.
Background of the Aadhaar Project
- The UIDAI was established in the year 2009 with the prime responsibility of issuing the Unique Identification Number to the residents of India.
- Also known as the UID project, the Aadhaar Project was conceived by the Planning Commission under the UPA government in 2009.
- The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 was passed as a money bill on March 16, 2016.
- Certain provisions of the Act came into force from 12 July 2016 and 12 September 2016.
- The Act serves as a legal backing to the Aadhaar Project.
- The Act provides that the Aadhaar number can be used to validate a person’s identity, but it cannot be used as a proof of citizenship.
- The Clause 28 (1) states that the UIDAI must ensure the security of identity information and authentication records.
- The Clause 33 (1) states that a District Judge or higher court may force the UIDAI to reveal a person’s identity information, i.e. Aadhaar number, photograph and demographic information, and authentication records, but not the core biometric information.
- The Act also enables the government to make it mandatory for a person to authenticate her/his identity using Aadhaar number before receiving any government subsidy, benefit, or service.
Purpose of the Aadhaar Project
- The birth registration system in India is not efficient enough and millions of Indians live without a birth certificate.
- A large part of the Indian population had no IDs or relied on IDs like ration cards and Voter Cards. Most of these IDs like the Voter ID card are meant only for adults. This necessitated the need for a single digital ID which could be verified anytime, anywhere in India.
- This would also facilitate the access to host of governmental benefits and services.
- For the effective enforcement of individual rights it became necessary to have a unique identification number.
- A clear registration and recognition of the individual identity with the state is necessary to implement their rights, to employment, education, food etc.
- However, the lack of proper identification system led to duplicate beneficiaries in Government welfare schemes. Thus, for the state to deliver rights to individuals, the enforcement of the unique registration became necessary.
Challenges faced by the Project
- The establishment of ‘uniqueness’: This had to be done without the birth certificate. Biometric depuplication was carried out to establish the unique identity.
- To cover the huge population of India within a particular time frame turned out to be a serious challenge.
- The third challenge was the design for privacy and security
- Finally, to execute such a big project in a complex political and bureaucratic environment was a serious challenge.
Benefits of Using Aadhaar
- Cost Effective: can save Rs 50,000 crore per year by using Aadhaar Card for distributing social welfare schemes to the poor by better targeting as most of schemes are marred by leakages. In the form of DBT scheme for LPG, government has saved Rs 10,000 crore in two years.
- As per Nandan Nilekani, Government of India can now claim to be paper-less, presence-less and cash-less by using Aadhaar Card extensively which can further save about 2000 crore of papers approximately.
- Time Saving: 600 million hours would be saved by 300 million+ people who seek Govt. services daily
- Financial Inclusion: Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile trinity can be the greatest beneficiary for the poor who didn’t have any identity till date, helps in financial inclusion and reduce exclusion errors.
- Net Neutrality: Aadhaar Card shall also help in ensuring Net Neutrality, as digital identity of all Aadhaar Card users would be stored within India.
Concerns with using Aadhaar
- Privacy and Security concerns: Advocators of privacy and information protection are arguing that Aadhaar Card can be grossly misused by both Govt. agencies and via unauthorized access.
- Surveillance, tracking or profiling of people beyond legal sanctions using the centralised database, either through external hacks or through insider leaks and connivance have emerged as a major concern. Thus, a strong cyber security becomes very important.
- The Finance Act, 2017 passed by the Lok Sabha made it mandatory for people to disclose their Aadhaar numbers while filing their income-tax returns.
- Jam Trinity
What is it?
- Jam Trinity, an abbreviation for Jan Dhan Yojna, Aadhaar and Mobile is concerned with direct subsidy transfers.
- The three modes of identification would help deliver direct benefits to India’s poor.
- The Aadhaar would help in direct biometric identification of disadvantaged citizens.
- Jna Dhan Bank accounts and mobile phones will help direct transfer of funds into their accounts.
Rationale for JAM Trinity
- Previously, the government operated a large number of subsidy schemes to ensure a minimum standard of living for the poor.
- These schemes took complicated routes to deliver affordable products or services to the poor.
- For example THE MNREGA operating through the panchayat pays minimum wages to rural workers.
- The Centre and States supply rice, wheat, pulses, cooking oil, sugar and kerosene at heavily subsidised prices through the PDS.
- Finally, other sectors such as power, fertilisers and oil sell their products to people below market prices.
- Such a complicated system is riddled with the presence of intermediaries, leakages, corruption and efficiency.
- As a result, a large amount of money is wasted the inefficient distribution and the poor does not benefit properly from these subsidies.
- The government expects the JAM Trinity would help in this regard.
- The Aadhaar would help in direct biometric identification of disadvantaged citizens and Jan Dhan bank accounts and mobile phones would allow direct transfers of funds into their accounts.
- This process is expected to cut all intermediaries and ensure efficiency.
Aadhaar becomes mandatory for two schemes
- The Aadhaar card has been made mandatory to get subsidy on kerosene and benefits from the Atal Pension Yojna.
- The last date for getting the Aadhaar or enrolling for it is 30th September for the kerosene subsidy and 15th June for the pension scheme.
- Till Aadhaar is obtained, ration card, driving licence, voter identity card, Kisan passbook with photo, job card issued under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme or a certificate issued by a gazetted officer or a tehsildar will be considered as proof of identity for the benefits.
- It has also been decided to link the Aadhaar card with the ration card issued to beneficiary households or with the bank account for cash transfer.
Technical shortcomings, Authentication and coverage issues
- Exclusion due to authentication issue has emerged as a serious concern. A large number of Aadhaar card holders are facing authentication issue while accessing the Public Distribution System.
- There have also been cases where Aadhaar cards could not be issued due to technical shortcomings. Thousands still remain without the Aadhaar cards due to such technical shortcomings and are often being branded as the ‘duplicate’, ‘fraud’ or even ‘dead’ and thus denying them access to governmental benefits and services.
- Lately, people have also complained about the unavailability of Aadhaar enrolment centres. This has led to a major setback to the Aadhaar Project as a large number of people are facing problem issuing Aadhaar card due to an inadequate number of centres.
Debate over Aadhaar being mandatorySupreme Court’s decision
The “Aadhaar is not mandatory” status has been affirmed by the Supreme Court again and again. However, the government’s decision to make it compulsory for various schemes has been under scrutiny. The Supreme Court had stated that Aadhaar card cannot be made mandatory to extend the benefits of welfare schemes. However, the government cannot be stopped from using Aadhaar in other schemes like the opening of bank accounts and for filing tax returns.
- During the hearing of a plea challenging the central government’s notification for Aadhaar-pan linkage, the representative of the Central Government had argued that Aadhaar was the only way to check black money and prevent duplication of pan cards.
- Justifying its decision to make Aadhaar linkage mandatory for various centrally sponsored welfare schemes, the Govt. argued that the rationale is to enhance the delivery of welfare benefits and services and check leakages due presence of intermediaries.
What is Aadhaar? The Aadhaar is the brand name of the Unique Identification Number that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issues to every resident of India. It is a twelve digit number which is linked the resident’s demographic and biometric information Each number relates to a set of information stored in a centralized … Continue reading “What is Aadhaar?”
What is it? Jam Trinity, an abbreviation for Jan Dhan Yojna, Aadhaar and Mobile is concerned with direct subsidy transfers. The three modes of identification would help deliver direct benefits to India’s poor. How? The Aadhaar would help in direct biometric identification of disadvantaged citizens. Jna Dhan Bank accounts and mobile phones will help direct … Continue reading “What is Jam Trinity?”