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With success rate of 0.03%, aadhar scheme fails to benefit poor, is "compulsory" despite Supreme Court order

By Our Representative
Well-known social scientist Reetika Khera, quoting a right to information (RTI) plea, has said that the the Unique Identification (UID) or aadhar has failed in its chief mission of offering one-stop identity to millions denied with public benefits because they had no identification. The RTI reply says, as of April 2015, as many as 83.5 crore persons were provided with aadhar numbers, of which just about 2.19 lakh (0.03 per cent) were issued to people "who did not have a pre-existing ID document."
"The rest have just acquired a third ID on top of at least two existing IDs", Khera -- who is a prominent economist with the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and has been involved in monitoring the implementation of the previous UPA government's flagship programme, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act -- says, despite this, "the Government of India continues to spend on UID . Till December 2014, nearly Rs. 6000 crores had been spent."
What is worse, says Khera in her revealing article on a reputed site, "Since 2012, the government has tried to make UID compulsory for various government services and programmes – through the backdoor. In Delhi, an order issued by the revenue department of the state government on January 1, 2013 makes aadhaar compulsory for all services provided by the department."
Thus, in the national capital, "those wanting to get married, register property, get gas connections, all have to show their aadhar numbers. Parents wanting to admit their children in the 25% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in private schools under the Right to Education Act have to provide aadhar to get income certificates", the scholar says.
Calling it actually "an additional barrier for poor parents", Khera said, all this has happened despite the fact that, "in order to attract people to enrol, the UID authority published several documents that showcased the advantages of integrating the UID with social welfare programmes such as the NREGA and the Public Distribution System (PDS)."
The "compulsory" nature of aadhar was challenged in the Supreme Court, which on September 29, 2013, the Supreme Court said in an interim order, that “no person should suffer for not getting the Adhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory”.
On March 24, 2014, the Supreme Court issued a stronger order: “No person shall be deprived of any service for want of aadhaar number in case he/she is otherwise eligible/entitled. All the authorities are directed to modify their forms/circulars/likes so as to not compulsorily require the aadhaar number in order to meet the requirement of the interim order.”
"Neither interim order seems to have had much effect on either the state or Central governments. For instance, in February 2015, the Ministry of Rural Development issued an order making aadhaar compulsory for those working under NREGA", said Khera, adding, this made the Supreme court, in March 2015, to issued "a third order expressing its anger to the Central government for not abiding by its earlier orders."
Meanwhile, Khera says, "The government has proposed making Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) to individual bank accounts through a National Payments Corportaion of India (NPCI) an aadhaar-enabled system." It has done this despite the fact that "the additional merit of using aadhaar-enabled payments over electronic transfers through CORE banking is not entirely clear. The early experience of DBTs has not been particularly encouraging."
In Jharkhand, a pilot for aadhaar-enabled NREGA payments in five blocks suggested, failed. "The main role of aadhaar in the Jharkhand experiment was to facilitate payments through a business correspondent (BC), who could widen the reach of the banking system in rural areas. Dependence on fingerprint recognition, internet connectivity, and the goodwill of the BC created new vulnerabilities. It has been discontinued."

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