Skip to main content

Aadhaar a Govt of India marketing success, even World Bank got attracted towards it: Top anti-UID campaigner

By Our Representative
One of the topmost campaigners against aadhaar, Reetika Khera, has admitted that the marketing of the scheme as “a welfare-enhancing, pro-poor, anti-corruption programme has been hugely successful”, adding, things have gone to the extent that, despite contradictory evidence, “the view that it is helping disadvantaged people is hard to dislodge.”
This, says Khera in an interview, has happened because the voices of thousands, or even millions, who are vulnerable, rarely “make it to mainstream media.” Worse, she adds, “The Indian Supreme Court has issued six orders categorically prohibiting the government from making aadhaar compulsory, but neither this nor the previous government have paid heed to the Court’s orders.”
Things, according to her, have gone to the extent that “universal ID numbers, biometrics, the creation of centralized databases, and so forth have become very popular with governments even in countries where those same governments are otherwise inclined to do very little.”
She adds, “Even the World Bank is pushing in this direction (e.g., the 2016 World Development Report was on "Digital Dividends").”
Speaking to Tanu Wakefield of Stanford Humanities Center, where Khera is currently international visitor, Khera says, “Proponents of aadhaar believed that identity fraud (i.e., me pretending to be you) was the main source of corruption in Indian welfare services.”
However, according to her, the fact is, “Quantity fraud (my getting less than my entitlement, typically through the deliberate withholding of a portion of the aid by the distributor) is the bigger beast to worry about.”
Insisting that “biometric authentication can’t fix quantity fraud”, Khera, citing the example of eleven-year-old girl named Santoshi of Jharkhand, who died of starvation last month (click HERE), notes, “Her family was entitled to subsidized rations as part of the government’s food security programme, but because their aadhaar number had not been properly linked to the appropriate database, her family’s name was struck off the rolls.”
She adds, “After Santoshi, three other hunger-related deaths have occurred. After these deaths, for a day or so, this was national news. This is a sad comment on Indian democracy.”
Sulaiman Mutawa Associate Chair in Economics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Khera accuses Nandan Nilekani, “an Indian tech czar”, of “barking up the wrong tree” when he says that “fewer people would be excluded from programmes of social support such as food aid or social security pensions.”
“It was like a cure (biometrics) that was in search of a disease (identity fraud)”, she underlines, adding, “Fraud in welfare is an issue, but it is quantity fraud and eligibility fraud, much more than identity fraud, that plague the system”, she says.
According to her, “A resident’s unique number, stored biometric data, etc., can do next to nothing about quantity or eligibility fraud. Moreover, even the cure is not quite the magic pill that it is made out to be, as biometrics are in fact easily replicated, and therefore can enable identity fraud.”
“Across the Indian states that have linked food distribution to aadhaar biometric demands, increasing numbers of people have reported being unable to access their allocated grain entitlements. These are quite literally the foods that sustain them”, she adds.
She says, “Due to technical failures with the machinery, problems with electrical and cell connectivity, registry mistakes, and the sheer fact that elderly and disabled people must now appear in person to be biometrically identified (whereas previously an elderly widow might have sent a family member or neighbor to collect her rice, for instance), many have been unable to access these desperately needed foods.”

Comments

TRENDING

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Vindictive raids? Centre 'retaliates' after Delhi govt child rights body's clean chit to ex-babu

By Our Representative  Over 700 academics, advocates, activists, civil servants, writers, film makers, journalists, musicians and artists have condemned the raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the offices and private home of top IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights and peace activist Harsh Mander, stating, the aim is nothing but to “harass and intimidate” him.

Protests break out as school going children 'branded Naxalites, taken prisoners'

By Sheshu Babu* Conditions in all spheres of life is going from bad to worse. On September 13, Political Prisoners' Day was observed. On that day, Jatin Das, friend of Bhagat Singh and member of the Hindustan Republican Socialist Association, passed away after 63 days of hunger strike. He demanded 'political prisoners' status to those who have been jailed by the state.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

Catholic women warn: Kerala Bishop turning Church into puppet in political games

Counterview Desk A group of Catholic women under the banner Concerned Catholic Women of India has said that they are deeply concerned over "a bishop’s controversial statement" which may threaten communal harmony in India. As many as 89 Catholic women from across India have urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to "foster peace and avoid strife."

No space for 2 lakh waste pickers in Delhi masterplan for next two decades: Study

By Our Representative  A new survey report prepared by the NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group on the challenges faced by waste pickers in managing solid waste in Delhi, “Space for Waste - 2021”, has regretted that currently, there is no provision of workspace for waste workers, hence they carry out their work of segregation, repairing, and composting at different locations.