Ever since the implementation of Aadhaar, it has been subject of critical discussions from various cabinet colleagues, experts and activists. Questions have been raised regarding its efficacy in providing utility and preserving the privacy o individuals. By making Aadhaar mandatory the government has invited a lot of disapproval.
However, the implementation of Aadhaar has been a boon to the country in more than just one way. Described as one of the most sophisticated ID programmes in the world, by the World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer, the Aadhar has helped in restructuring the role of the state in the social sector. It is the most widely held document in the country with around 92 crore people under it. It has also been an aid in eliminating duplicate ID cards and fake cards of non existent beneficiaries under many welfare schemes.
So far, the government subsidies contained products like food grains, fertilizers, water, electricity and services education, healthcare by providing them at a lower than market price to the beneficiaries. This has led to operational inefficiencies. An Aadhaar enabled DCT(Direct Cash Transfer) system will improve the situation and would ensure timely payment directly to intended beneficiaries, reduce transaction costs and leakages.
The supreme court, 2013 had asserted that the implementation of Aadhaar should be voluntary, not mandatory. However there is a real possibility that India could save thousands of crores of rupees in leakage just by making sure that the subsidies are delivered to the deserving citizen by using Aadhaar to link bank accounts. This way the state will get to put the money where the mouth is.
The government has made it obligatory to quote the Aadhaar number while applying for PAN and filing income tax returns. Linking PAN with Aadhaar would help in identifying tax evaders. Nandan Nilekani, the brain behind UIDAI supports the government. He says this step will streamline the system and identify the fraudulent practices in the country.
The opposition of Aadhaar is mostly based on the issues of surveillance and privacy. In some critics’ opinion the Aadhar law can be struck down on violation of fundamental rights and privacy invasion and would therefore hamper certain welfare schemes. They also argued that with Aadhaar being made mandatory, different databases are getting linked by a common ID, making personal information vulnerable to hacking and government surveillance. Effectively, this makes every citizen vulnerable. However the UIDAI says that it has been ensured that the data captured is secure and encrypted right at the source and all biometrics are stored in the Government of India’s servers with “world class security standards”.
Thus Aadhar and it’s mandatory linking has many positives which will make managing the benefits easier for India and in the long run, help India to rise as a super-power.