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Aadhaar is an ambitious project that seeks to provide unique identification numbers to each individual in a country, collecting demographic and biometric information in the process. Currently, UIDAI has issued over 98 crore Aadhaar numbers.
Need for Aadhaar: India must use technology in a transformational way to accelerate social and economic justice. It will help in expansion of opportunities for all at scale and speed.
Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, has been passed by Parliament, to provide for efficient, transparent, and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services.
It will enable the govt. to reset the subsidy regime and deliver state benefits directly to their intended beneficiaries, plugging leakages.
India spends nearly Rs. 4 lakh crore on subsidies, in order to complement the political democracy with socio-economic democracy.
On January 1, 2013, the UPA govt launched the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme under which monetary benefits would be transferred directly to the beneficiaries through an Aadhaar-enabled platform.
The effort to channelize subsidies, benefits and services to through a 12-digit number or to say its biometric alternative can help plug the leakages in the subsidy framework and give a boost to the Jan Dhan Yojna, which remains closely aligned to this scheme.
Follow our story on Direct Benefits Transfer: The Big Reform.
Do read the Economic Survey chapter on JAM Trinity.
There are certain provisions in the Bill, that provide avenues for surveillance of citizens. A person’s Aadhaar number can become a standard data point in all business, banking and legal transactions. Our data systems are not secure and watertight. The people who maintain these systems are vulnerable to pressures and inducements.
However, there are other concerns of exclusion, by denying the services to people who didn’t enroll for it or chose not to do it.
According to Nandan Nilekani, the Bill had incorporated several safeguards with regard to privacy as highlighted by the A.P. Shah Committee report, on privacy law.
There are other provisions in this Bill that seem to address the concern:
In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Aadhaar could not be made mandatory to receive benefits. No one should be excluded from social welfare scheme, just because of a requirement of Aadhar.
In 2015, It also prohibited the sharing the Aadhaar information with any agency. The case was referred to a larger bench to decide the question whether Aadhaar infringed the right to privacy.
According to experts, the Bill was not a money Bill under Article 110 of the Constitution because it did not “contain ONLY provisions” dealing with the matters enumerated in that Article. Various Constitutional experts have argued that the Speaker’s decision to certify it as a money Bill was also plainly wrong.
As per Article 110(1), a bill that contains only provisions dealing with the following qualifies as a money bill:
A money bill cannot be rejected by the Rajya Sabha, which can only suggest changes, the Lok Sabha is free to reject.
Speaker: Article 110(3) confirms finality on the speaker’s decision on the question of whether a bill is a money bill.
There is little doubt that India needs to streamline the way it delivers benefits, and to empower citizens with a basic identification document. But this cannot be done without ensuring the strictest protection of privacy.
Follow our story on Aadhaar Cards: The Identity Revolution.
Published with inputs from Pushpendra
A step towards expanding Aadhar based services. Others are minor rail reforms. Not very important but just be aware of the happenings.
Not very important. Just keep track of the issue as SC had not allowed making Aadhar mandatory for services.
National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme
Know the benefits of using Aadhar and under which Act it is being made mandatory.
Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), which has been completely rolled out across the country in November last year, the government provides 5 kg of foodgrains per person every month at ₹1-3/kg to over 80 crore people
Just know about the issue of using Aadhaar for entitlements which has yet not been resolved.
Note4students: Not very important. Just to be aware of it.
Most of the points can be quoted in mains answer to bring objectivity.
Make a note of the report + its theme. Note down the points/ observations made by the report. Questions on SDG can use these points and your answers will get more credibility if you cite the report as well. A UN body recognising Aadhar in a world report is a big thing.
Discuss: What is the legal status of Right to Privacy in India? Discuss it in the context of recent Aadhaar Act. How can this issue be taken care of?
RBI Governor said that it will help in financial inclusion drive and providing easy access to loans.
Discuss: What’s the difference? The NPR Scheme has been created pursuant to the 2004 Amendment of the Citizenship Act. The central govt. has the power to compulsorily register citizens for an Identity Card. The UIDAI was set up through an executive notification.