Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] To achieve its full potential, Aadhaar should be made easier and safer to use

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Aadhaar - working and way ahead

Context

From 2010, when Ranjana Sonawane received the first Aadhaar number, in less than 10 years, 95% of the adult residents in India have gotten Aadhaar. 

Aadhaar

  • ID – For a large number of these people, Aadhaar was the first usable ID. Without Aadhaar, they found it difficult to access services.
  • Survey – the latest State of Aadhaar Report (SoAR) — a study that attempts to capture the impact of Aadhaar in the real world brought out the voice of the users.
  • Satisfaction – they are satisfied with Aadhaar (92%), trust that the data is safe (90%) and feel that it has made PDS rations, MGNREGS and other social programmes more reliable (80%). 

Significance of Aadhaar

  • State of living – Away from the experts, people who do not always get enough to eat are living. For them, exclusion isn’t a concept, but a lived reality.
  • Report findings on service access
    • nearly 50% of the people have used Aadhaar to access rations, MGNREGS, social pensions, SIM cards or bank accounts for the first time.
    • 81% of Aadhaar holders say that they will provide it if they have a choice of which ID to provide.
    • 61% of beneficiaries trust that Aadhaar prevents others from accessing their benefits.

Limitations of Aadhaar

  • Authentication – there are some cases where authentication fails because the biometrics are defaced due to age. Supreme Court judge, Justice Srikrishna, recounted how he too had trouble in getting authenticated due to the difficulty of scanning his fingerprints.
  • UIDAI assurance – UIDAI has maintained that there would be individuals for whom biometric authentication does not work. 
  • Exception handling mechanism – Failure to authenticate cannot be a reason to deny any services to them and the organisation requesting the authentication must provide an exception handling mechanism in such cases.

Way ahead

  • The report indicates a need for the state to wrap the unfinished agenda of ensuring that Aadhaar works for everyone.
  • Marginalised groups must be enrolled, the process to update records should be made simpler, the grievance redress systems need to be strengthened, and exclusions due to Aadhaar could be eliminated.
  • Focus on improving the user experience, making it easier for everyone to use Aadhaar safely every day.
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