Skip to main content

Anti-poor? 'Cumbersome' to link aadhaar, voter ID for people sans internet access

By Prashant Kumar Chaudhary, Ajit Kumar Jaiswal* 

At present, technology plays an increasingly crucial part in modelling human existence by offering a variety of solutions to many of the challenges individuals confront in the real world. As a result, every branch of research works to provides means to solve these difficulties precisely and efficiently. The Central government works along the same lines as well.
The Election Commission of India issues voter ID cards, which are used to identify voters and issues booth slips to facilitate the voting process. However, this method is unable to establish and maintain adequate security and authenticity.
The recently passed, Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 enables the linkage between AADHAR and Voter-ID, which the central government proclaims will assist in curbing multiple registrations of the same voter at different places.
This bill adds several sections to the existing Representation of the People Act, 1950 thereby giving authority to the electoral registration officer to ask for aadhaar card and verify the identity of a voter to add his/her name in the electoral roll. The prime objective of the bill, as stated in the Rajya Sabha is to deal with the "the menace of multiple enrolments."
“Once Aadhaar linkage is achieved, the electoral roll data system will instantly alert the existence of previous registration(s) whenever a person applies for new registration. This will help in cleaning the electoral roll to a great extent and facilitate elector registration in the location at which they are ‘ordinarily resident’”, a government official said.
The government argues that this process will screen and strike fake and duplicate voter IDs off the electoral roll. Playing down the apprehensions of opposition political parties in Parliament, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju stated, linking aadhaar with the voter ID card “is voluntary. It is not compulsory or mandatory”. That is to say, no voter would be denied the right to vote even if he/she does not own an aadhaar card or his/her card is not linked with the respective voter ID.
However, there are several consternations related to the bill which deserve to be addressed before implementation. First, the bill in substance contradicts the ‘voluntary’ argument of the minister. It mentions that the addition and deletion of a voter’s name in/from the electoral roll is subject to ‘sufficient cause as may be prescribed’ and deemed fit by the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO). i.e., a voter can be allowed to vote or register as a voter only if an ERO finds so.
It implies that the voter’s explanation in failing to produce the Aadhaar card or linking it with the voter ID is left to the discretion of the ERO. Hence, the bill provides considerable power to the ERO to decide the fate of a voter and could hinder his/her right to vote.
Additionally, the ERO can ask a voter to furnish aadhaar card to check the authenticity of the person. This provision is anything but voluntary. It inherently implies that the central government might shortly introduce a bill in the parliament mentioning the different scenarios under which a voter is exempted from showing the aadhaar to the ERO.
Secondly, the bill also generates the fear of exclusion from the electoral roll. In this regard, the pilot project launched warrants deeper attention. In 2015, National Electoral Roll Purification and Authentication Programme (NERPAP) was floated in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, to link aadhaar with voter ID.
Within months of launching the programme, the Supreme Court of India discontinued the pilot project and passed an order stating that aadhaar is to be used only for the purpose of PDS and LPG. However, the damage had already been done. The subsequent assembly election in Telangana in 2018 witnessed the deletion of nearly 30 lakh names in Telangana, and over 21 lakh names in Andhra Pradesh.
Election officials later cited serval unsubstantiated reasons for the decline in voters’ number in the states, such as bifurcation of the states, death of voters, duplication of voter IDs and software malfunction. In this case, there was no door-to-door verification of voter ID as should have been done to avoid discrepancies.
Thirdly, the bill might compromise the voters’ privacy if it is linked with the voter ID. As many have argued, in case of aadhaar, an agency might use the data collected from large number of applicants for its benefit by selling the data which would place a check on voters’ individual liberty and encroach on individual fundamental rights.
Following a pilot project in 2018 one saw deletion of nearly 30 lakh voter names in Telangana, and 21 lakh names in Andhra Pradesh
Apart from the above cited issues with the process of linking the two cards, there are also several other related concerns which are of equal importance, and which may obstruct the true objective of the process of linking the two cards. Hypothetically, if a problem is found with any one of the cards, then a voter might lose the right to vote as liking the two would not be possible.
Additionally, a great amount of time and effort would be needed to sort out any discrepancies reported by the voter, suggesting that fixing the voters’ problem of linking the aadhaar with voter ID will be a tenuous task to resolve, more so during elections.
Besides, requiring the provision of linking the aadhaar with voter ID would be a cumbersome process for a voter who does not have internet access and/or internet literacy to link the two. It has been seen in case of aadhaar that initially, the government argued that the card would not be mandatory for anyone to avail any social and economic policies of the state, which later became de facto mandatory through practice and government officials, colleges, hospitals, employers began demanding aadhaar from applicants.
Expelling bogus voters from the electoral roll (which the bill intends to achieve) is an ethical thought, but it is marred by several constitutional, technical and implementational problems. If the government seriously hopes to achieve the objective of the bill, it needs to initially tackle general concerns raised from all quarters, ensuring that not a single voter loses his/her voting right, which is a vital hallmark of a functioning democracy like India.
---
*Prashant Kumar Chaudhary is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Kumaraguru College of Liberal Arts and Science, Coimbatore; Ajit Kumar Jaiswal is Senior Doctoral Fellow, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai

Comments

TRENDING

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".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

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.

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

Haven't done a good deed, inner soul is cursing me as sinner: Aurangzeb's last 'will'

Counterview Desk The Tomb of Aurangzeb, the last of the strong Mughal emperors, located in Khuldabad, Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, has this epitaph inscribed on it: "Az tila o nuqreh gar saazand gumbad aghniyaa! Bar mazaar e maa ghareebaan gumbad e gardun bas ast" (the rich may well construct domes of gold and silver on their graves. For the poor folks like me, the sky is enough to shelter my grave).