Aadhar or Niraadhar?

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. (http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/pil-aadhaar-government-scheme-contempt-of-court-ex-justice-puttaswamy/print)

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.



6 Responses to “Aadhar or Niraadhar?”

  1. kamal mahtani Says:

    These facts i did not know. Nilekan must have made his money from the fees he charges for the cards, which are in crores. But when u have the ration card, that is enough i suppose. How could nuilekan such an intelligetn person go for this faulty scheme, he does not need the money at all.Strange very strange.

    • Kamalji, I do not know what the original intentions of Nandan Nilekani were. When he came up with the idea it was received with much enthusiasm. It would have been a good thing if this card were to be something like a citizenship card – if all the details of the persons to whom the card was being issued were verified. That would certainly be a good thing.

      However, the political intentions behind this card don’t seem to be so noble. Imagine a situation where an illegal immigrants get a card. Did you know you could go and vote with an Aadhar card too if your name was on the list? Need I say more?

  2. May I simply just say what a relief to discover somebody who genuinely
    knows what they are talking about online. You definitely know how to bring a
    problem to light and make it important. More and more people should check this out and understand this side of the story.
    I was surprised you aren’t more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  3. In India everything works, all you have to have is some connections at decision making levels. I am surprised that AADHAAR is mooted as a reference for bonafide services. But what we are seeing is that the Govt. is running out of ideas and trying to SOME HOW run the scheme so that the PROJECT is validated.

    For example, I am using gas for almost last 25 plus years and now I HAVE TO ESTABLISH that I AM AN INDIAN#%$^!&*…..

    I have PASSPORT – which is rightly said above that has much superior identity establishment than AADHAAR and more IMPORTANTLY, INDIAN PASSPORT is recognized across the world as a standard national identity. Why are our think tanks run out of IDEA. Is it because it originates from people with luminous IIT backgrounds?

    If so, this is a very sorry state of affair. Instead AADHAAR NUMBER can be made a MUST to prove that YOU are an INDIAN and based on this every other service/s can be brought into practice.

    The subsidy is a funny term in INDIA. no one knows – who gets what, gas connection alone is not the primary subject – TWO SQUARE MEAL PER DAY, BASIC CLOTHING TO COVER MODESTY, SHELTER FOR PROTECTION for the needy INDIANS MUST BE ESTABLISHED THROUGH AADHAAR – which will benefit the real needy, rather than making well to do people get gas with fictitious means despite AADHAAR.

    Hope better sense prevails and such frivolous ideas to benefit the oil companies are stopped.

  4. Badri, all I can say is “amen” to that. We can only wait and watch.

Would be useful if we could have some option to block certain posters.

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