Government recently passed Aadhaar bill to streamline subsidy and other Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes in India. Aadhaar was envisaged with good intentions but looking at the way it has been handled we can safely say that “road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
Aadhaar has the potential to revolutionize social sector in India which will eventually affect overall economy.It will reduce human interface between government and beneficiary,time and money on paper work through digitization and corruption.Maybe late PM Rajiv Gandhi may find some solace who once opined that for every rupee sent by Government,only 17 paisa reaches the common man.The economic survey has talked a lot about JAM trinity (Jan dhan,Aadhaar,Mobile),but we here to talk about how Aadhaar has been debased by Government (irrespective of party affiliations) .
First,the haste to implement Aadhaar.It was introduced without any deliberations in Parliament ie; it lacked legal backing,no field research was done,no investigation on use of biometrics for diverse country like India,safety of data and privacy issues.
Second,it was made compulsory for services like PDS food distribution,LPG gas subsidy etc so that people enroll quickly for Aadhaar.This created panic among masses especially the poor who lack information and know how about cumbersome government procedure.This provided another venue for middlemen who cheated poor.Finally Supreme Court intervened and made Aadhaar voluntary.However ground reality is still the same.
Present Government went a step further by declaring it a money bill thereby usurping Rajya Sabha and underlying procedures (debates,referring to standing committee,taking feedback from civil societies,private sector,human rights groups etc).Further the matter of privacy is sub judice and hence court’s judgement may have repercussions on this act.
Many concerns have been raised about this act, the most important being right to privacy (which is part of Article 21 of our constitution ie; Right to life and personal liberty).Firstly,Government has made Aadhaar mandatory for every resident in a way ,because in future it would be linked to many more Government services.Multiple organs will use our data and hence keeping it secure is more challenging.Further, private service providers can seek authentication of our identity.So it’s not limited to Government alone.
So there is an urgent need to revisit the bill and set the records straight.For a country like India which is not digitally empowered and lacks seriousness about privacy issues (unlike Europe),executive and legislature has great responsibility because Aadhaar will have far-reaching consequences on citizens’rights and welfare.