Archive for November, 2013

Aadhar or Niraadhar?

Posted in Media with tags , , , , , on November 9, 2013 by swatiaiyer

Two days ago I received a refill of my Indane gas cylinder which I had ordered recently.  Not very long ago, all gas companies got customers to provide proper ID proof (passport copies, electricity bills) with proof of address in order to be able to continue getting their services.  Subsequent to this a system of booking a refill on phone which functions 24 hours was introduced and believe me, it has been functioning very efficiently.  Just goes to show what we can achieve if we just put our minds to it.

However, here comes the twist in the story.  This time round the guy who delivered the cylinder informed us that we need to give a copy of our Aadhar card (supposed to be a unique identity card which was introduced with a lot of fanfare but has been going through several birthing pangs) in order to be able to avail of the subsidized rates, failing which we would have to buy cylinders at the full price of Rs. 1000/-.

Now as it happens, I have an Aadhar card, but my husband in whose name the gas connection is booked does not have one.  So either he has to get one, which is not an issue,(the easier option) or we have to get the gas transferred to my name.

However, there are some facts here that are being glossed over.  A PIL was filed by a retired judge against making the Aadhar card (which at present serves as a proof of residence) compulsory for transfer of benefits. (

While everyone was under the impression that Aadhaar card is mandatory for all government subsidies and services, a Supreme Court interim order issued on September 23, 2013, ruled that Aadhaar card cannot be made mandatory, it has to be voluntary.

Under the circumstances, the demand by the gas company amounts to contempt of court.  

There are several issues which render the Aadhar card meaningless:

  • To start with, there is no verification process done when issuing the card as is done when issuing a passport.  There is no police verification.  All this card shows is that one is a resident of India.  So any resident of India including illegal immigrants can provide a proof of residence (such as electricity bill, telephone bill) and get an Aadhar card.  Obviously they can benefit from subsidies by just owning an Aadhar card.
  • If one loses the Aadhar card, one can go online and download a copy.  However, for that one has to have the receipt showing the exact date, place, time (hh:mm:ss) when one applied for the card.  If one does not have that receipt or has not recorded the card number, then one is doomed.  All attempts to call the UID issuing authorities in Delhi drew a blank when I was in this situation.  Despite claiming to have a computerized database, including my mobile number, they said they could not retrieve that information for me, which meant, in effect I could not get a duplicate issued.
  • “Can I get another one issued”?  The answer was “NO”.  Which means if I lose my Aadhar card, I cannot get a duplicate or get a fresh one issued.  So I cannot avail of any benefits linked to owning an Aadhar card for the rest of my life.  That of course is provided I am honest to own only one Aadhar card.  Is there anything to prevent one from getting a few more Aadhar cards?  Is any cross-checking done to ensure that no card has been issued to an individual in the past?
  • If I cannot get a new Aadhar card, what happens if I happen to move to another city/state?  How do I provide evidence of my new residence (based on Aadhar card) if I cannot get a fresh one with the address changed?

These are just some of the very basic problems which do not seem to have been tackled (if they have even occurred to them) by the people trying to impose the use of Aadhar card on the citizens.  Besides the Aadhar card had been earlier touted to be a purely voluntary card and not compulsory.

Issues of privacy too come into play.  Why would anyone want to share their bank details with private parties who are handling this entire business of issuing Aadhar cards?  (That a large number of people in this country do not have bank accounts is a different story altogether).  Is this another way of playing “Big Brother” in public life?  Would it not be easier and cheaper to keep a check on the number of gas cylinders that one purchases and ensure that no more than 9 a year are provided at subsidized rates?  Would it not make more sense to have a proper citizenship card for everyone? 

Yet another story of a well-meant idea of a UID card that has been totally messed up.  We shall wait till the government suddenly wakes up to the need for a citizenship card and all other cards owned by one become invalid – some more money which could have been better used will have been successfully thrown down the drain.


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