Recently, Supreme Court had said that the Aadhaar Card may be used to avail government schemes including employment guarantee, pension and bank accounts. Earlier, as per the court’s order, the card could have been used only voluntarily for availing subsidies under the public distribution system and purchasing kerosene and cooking gas. This ruling is seen as a relief to the government which has been trying to persuade the Supreme Court to extend Aadhaar’s uses after a slew of blows to the unique identity or UID programme following privacy petitions. After this order, the Aadhaar card can be used for availing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Jan-Dhan Yojana, provident funds and pension schemes. The Supreme Court told the petitioners challenging the government that if the card can be used for some government schemes voluntarily, there was no reason to prevent it in others. The ruling however does not agree to all of the government’s pleas. The Centre, Reserve Bank of India, stock market watchdog SEBI, telecom regulator TRAI, and a number of states had moved the Supreme Court for extending the voluntary use of Aadhaar Card to a number of other services.
The government’s ambitious UID scheme has been challenged in court over privacy concerns since it uses biometric data like fingerprint and iris scans. The court has already referred a related debate over whether privacy is a fundamental right to a constitution bench. After today’s ruling the Court will also deliberate the legal validity of the Aadhaar Card.
The UID/Aadhaar was the biggest scam where few lakh crores of taxpayers’ money was looted by the authorities involved. Everything that government touches stink with corruption. The much touted RTI Act also is a tragedy and every information commissioner should be investigated for corruption/assets disproportionate to known sources of income because it is commonsensical to suspect bribe when the public information officers are not penalised as per the law and let off scot free even when information required to be provided is denied. Certainly, the Government planned a way of looting the exchequer unimpeded. They always find the ways to diminish the treasury.
No government is for the service of the down trodden. In the last sixty years, poverty is well maintained to enable more loot. The earnings of the government have been steadily raising but poverty is pegged at a comfortable level to enable more loot. Even if country organized free food for all, and not allowing food grains to rot in the godowns then also you will hear the large scale of deaths due to starvation, because of corruption. MGNREGA would have flourished if it was planned well in advance with elaborate specific schemes, not for digging holes. Five years ago, an abrupt decision was taken on the eve of election year, the loot will continue forever unhindered, unquestioned. This country will be economically backward, technically inept for time to come.
Around 36,000 crores could have been utilized to renovate Indian Railways. New lines could have been laid down, new long distance trains with only general compartments could have been brought up to reduce rush and bring relief to public, meter gauge lines could have been converted to broad gauge lines along the critical boarders of west and north east. However, this public money has been utilized in useless NREGA which is nothing else but channel to distribute free money for the sake of political benefit. 836 million people in India are living on less than Rs. 20 a day.
In this regard, bio-metric ATM introduced by Andhra Government is useful. Time has come when resilience must be abandoned and all necessary steps be taken in order to take holistic advantage of Aadhaar and confirmation of hassle free environment. Internet connectivity problem can be overcome by moving to 3G or 4G enabled mobile systems. By and large, MNREGA is a failed exercise and has already wasted over Rs. two lakh crores. The development scholars and government should realize this and instead facilitate direct cash transfers to Aadhaar enabled beneficiaries in exchange for education, skills development or community sanitation objectives that can bring about long-term structural changes in country side. At the very least, MNREGA should prioritise sanitation, education, health, roads, and other rural development or asset creation even if it involves use of machinery and skilled workers. The whole idea of using UID is to see that the payment reaches the appropriate person without the involvement of middlemen.
The survey would confirm some of these misgivings. The average number of days worked in MNREGA per person was 25, 22 and 38 in AP, MP and Rajasthan, respectively, and seemed a reflection of low unemployment rates of 7%, 8% and 4% for these states. This might mean a high degree of employment of farm and other forms of labour. The share of MNREGA work in total man days worked was 4% in Rajasthan, AP (3%) and MP (1%). About 2% of MNREGA workers in AP reported availability of other work, while this was 10% of Rajasthan and negligible for MP. It was also found that 25%, 17% and 36% households in AP, MP and Rajasthan, respectively, participated in MNREGA works. The monthly per capita expenditure for households who used the scheme was Rs. 918, Rs. 654 and Rs. 930 for these states, respectively. For AP, MP and Rajasthan, the households that benefitted from MNREGA stood at 84%, 78% and 62%, respectively, and they were from “agricultural labour” or “self-employed in agriculture”. There is, on the positive side, high awareness on all the three states about the rural guarantee, a finding that will please a government keen to brand itself as “pro-poor”.
Whatsoever the scams and controversies, Aadhaar Card has played a vital role in securing person’s personal identity, time and again. The recent verdict indirectly gave nod to the voluntary usage of Aadhaar and directly gave loud and clear message that it is one of the vital documents too.