The biggest dilemma the common man faces today in India is that the person does not have a proof of identity. A person has to periodically prove his / her identity for claiming his / her rights from the government. The person is harassed by the corrupt who siphon off his / her benefits without his / her knowledge.
More than half of the subsidies (lakhs of crores) do not reach the intended beneficiary. The ration does not reach the poor because someone else claims it on their behalf; the subsidies too are leaked out by middlemen. Impersonation is the single most reason for this malady which can only be countered by providing an online platform that can establish one’s identity accurately. Protecting the identity of every resident against impersonation is of paramount importance for disbursing social benefits to the residents.
Much of the debate going on about the loss of privacy through Aadhaar is without understanding the concept of Aadhaar. Biometrics were being used for different schemes much before Aadhaar came into the scene; RSBY, License, Passport, Visa, Attendance etc. No one ever protested till the time UIDAI started using it to give a unique identity to every resident. There is no incident of misuse as UIDAI uses the best practices of encryption, firewall and processes for safeguarding the data.
Aadhaar coverage has crossed the magical figure of 90 crores. It’s a digital identity based on biometrics, verifiable over an ubiquitous authentication platform and is an accurate financial address. These three factors, makes Aadhaar a formidable technology that can be leveraged by the government and resident to give and receive benefits efficiently. The Primary function of Aadhaar is to empower the residents with an identity. Crores of residents are getting rations / benefits using Aadhaar but that is only a fraction of the population. Aadhaar has potential to benefit the lives of every resident of the nation; for example; to open a bank account paperless, obtaining a telephone connection, render a digital life certificate, open a digital locker, etc ; the application of Aadhaar to make our life easy are innumerable.
The second most important function of Aadhaar is to provide a platform for good governance. Discerning each resident is critical to providing targeted delivery of services. The subsidies or scholarships took a long route before Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) came into the scene; from Centre to State to district to Taluks to Panchayats and finally to the Resident. DBT using APB (Aadhaar Payment Bridge) enables direct remittance of subsidies to the beneficiary account accurately. Similarly, Aadhaar enabled PDS ensures that rations are correctly claimed by the beneficiary. Aadhaar is thus the pivot for ushering a digital India free of corruption.
The claim that Aadhaar will be misused by government for profiling is completely baseless. The government has many arms like the IB, CBI, RAW, ITD, ED etc to investigate; it will not have to use Aadhaar for it. But now, he is protected from benami transactions. Aadhaar is like a Raksha Kavach for the common man; freedom from impersonation.
Aadhaar also helps in prevention of leakage by de-duplication and removal of bogus records from welfare schemes resulting in huge saving to the nation. However, this should be viewed as only a by-product of Aadhaar integration enabling in setting up of a transparent, accurate and efficient system.
By Korath V Mathew, e-Governance Specialist
for Kerala IT News