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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

the travails of Manodevis ........ in getting Unique identity - Aadhar

A photo that appeared in The Hindu of date…. Can you imagine the story behind ….if not, read the article below :

Indian elections are around the corner …. Do you know the candidates in your constituency…. ~ it could well be a person wielding considerable influence in the locality due to personality; caste; wealth or any other reason whom the party is fielding due to ‘winnability’ or someone close to the leader of the party (from his family !) ~ or some rank outsider, whom you have not heard before !  ….. those in Bangalore South know it better … they have an IT billionaire, a rich entrepreneur,  a top bureaucrat – all rolled in one – a man who had earlier stated that his aim was not politics – it is Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder of Infosys,  who has taken the plunge, joining Congress and contesting. 

The Aadhar card you got – the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) project was headed by him.  He reportedly was offered a place at the Planning Commission but told PM Manmohan Singh of his interest and ended up issuing ID cards !...… the 12-digit supposedly unique number which the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)  is to be stored in a centralized database and linked to the basic demographics and bio metric information – photograph, ten fingerprints and iris – of each individual. Briefly, the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 introduced in Rajya Sabha on 3 December, 2010 was referred to a Parliamentary Committee and Aadhar was born reportedly with a view to ensure that the benefits of centrally sponsored schemes reaches to right person and not misused. 

The Cong. Govt was hell-bent on making its Direct Cash transfer scheme a grand hit.   To make it a success, Govt linked it to LPG scheme and subsidy and stated that LPG would be sold at market price and the subsidy would be credited to the bank accounts thus making the linkage between bank accounts and Aadhaar number.  So, from the days of cycle delivery, it moved that for a refill, one would need - a Bank Account, Aadhar Unique No.; have link between the two – then pay the high price, later expect the subsidy to be transferred to their bank account.  Then came the blow from Apex Court stating that Govt should withhold any social benefits from those who are yet to get the Aadhar card and not to issue the unique identification card to illegal immigrants.  Surprisingly, the Solicitor General on behalf of the Govt tendered before the Court that Aadhar was purely voluntary.  Firstpost called the Aadhar scheme, a Trojan horse gifted by a dysfunctional government which will ultimately compromise our security without even a figleaf of statutory protection for our privacy. It has been sold as a means to reach government benefits to the poor, but it could well end up as one more tool in the hands of the powerful to exclude some and extract speed money from the rest.

People have had mixed experience –most have harrowing tales to tell in obtaining Aadhar – having to go repeatedly to the centres and yet return empty handed for host of reasons including system speed, computer crash and persons handling not enough competence… also most of the details sought and provided for were never cared to be incorporated in to the system…

Here is a pathetic tale of a 75 year old as reported in The Hindu of date… :  like 75-year-old Mano Devi, many villagers of Latehar in Jharkand have been running from pillar to post to get Aadhar card
At 11 am, Mano Devi reached the Garu block centre, Latehar, in a basket slung from a bamboo stick, carried by two youths from village Doram, 25 km away. The young men, Bhojendra Singh and Mithu Singh, went straight to the pragya kendra (IT centre) but Mano Devi was disappointed. The centre remained closed all day. “My widow pension will be stopped if I do not have an Aadhaar card,” the 75-year-old Khairwar adivasi told Garu reporter Ranjit Kumar before starting the four-hour journey to her village at 3.30 p.m. She has already made three trips to Garu since December last to enrol in Aadhaar, she said.

Over 5.4 lakh Aadhaar cards, catering to 74 per cent of the district population, have been generated in Latehar. “Seeding” of beneficiaries account details and Aadhaar is at two per cent of the population, the lowest in Jharkhand. With over 92 per cent of people living in villages and large swathes of forests, officials and villagers wonder if their access to schemes will not be disrupted in the switch to Aadhaar. “Garu has only one bank branch, and the Mahudanr block, which has no electricity, has two branches. Over 60 per cent of the district has no mobile connectivity. We already pointed this out to officials at the head office in Ranchi,” said a district official.

Although the Supreme Court said in its interim order on September 23, 2013, that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory to access government schemes, there is confusion on the ground as beneficiaries believe and say they have been instructed by officials to get their Aadhaar cards or Enrolment IDs, if they wish to continue accessing public schemes. In Latehar, beneficiaries say they have paid from Rs 20 to Rs 50 to enroll  in Aadhaar, as demanded by enrolment agencies. “When we reported this to the district officials, they said the agencies were making quick money for services that should be free. We tried informing the villagers, but there is a great rush to enrol since everyone fears being left out,” said Ignacia Gidh, a panchayat representative from Mahuadanr. Latehar’s District Commissioner Mukesh Kumar said he had received complaints and has called for a meeting on March 15 to look into the issue. “As there is no electricity and mobile connectivity in many parts, we are exploring the options of offline kiosk banking,” he added.

‘Adhar’ in Sanskrit means ‘the base’ – the primary thing around which things revolve.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Mar 2014

Photo and news courtesy : the Hindu

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