Will the Aadhaar card be ‘Modi’fied by the BJP?

Will the Aadhaar card be ‘Modi’fied by the BJP?
Highlights

Will the Aadhaar card be ‘Modi’fied by the BJP? The Rs 14,000 crore Aadhaar card project, under the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), set up by the central government aiming at creating a unique identity for each resident of India, through bio-metric –retinal and finger print scans was one of the best known e–commerce projects, is l;ikely to be dumped by the Modi government.

The Rs 14,000 crore Aadhaar card project, under the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), set up by the central government aiming at creating a unique identity for each resident of India, through bio-metric –retinal and finger print scans was one of the best known e–commerce projects, is l;ikely to be dumped by the Modi government.

The UID project evokes reactions ranging from ardent support to cynicism to suspicion. Advocates say it is one of the best ways to solve India's gargantuan problem of delivering governance to 1.2 billion people. Critics say it is too ambitious and high-tech for a country where nearly 40 per cent of the population is still officially defined as poor.

The UID project's open architecture lends itself to innovative applications. Besides MGNREGA payments, Aadhaar can be linked to distribution of cooking gas and food grain, cash transfers, and identity proof for SIM cards. It has the potential to spur enterprise and consumer applications.

While arguments are on for the past few months over the constitutional validity of the card and making them mandatory for availing benefits, new petitions are being filed by individuals for permission to 'opt out' of the scheme and for destruction of all personal information and to prevent abuse of details stored in UIDAI’s database.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court has put a full stop. It has delinked the Aadhaar card from LPG gas supplies, a major blow to the pet scheme of the UPA government.

Will the Aadhaar card be ‘Modi’fied?

The BJP was against Aadhaar. The BJP claimed that there were security implications if migrants wanted Aadhaar card as ID proof. Modi said Aadhaar had no legal backing.

Nilekani had dreamt big and Congress supported the project. Nandan Nilekani believed that the Aadhaar based cash transfers would move around Rs 2,00,000 crore of welfare benefits every year into bank accounts of individuals.

Whatever Modi said during the campaign, inside sources in BJP believe the card is here to stay and may even use Aadhaar for cash transfers. Chances of strengthening the concept of cash transfers are gaining strength. The BJP wants it to rethink on the function and a foolproof system involving the functioning of the card for cash transfers and identity.

BJP sources have two concerns with the card, the lack of legal backing and the security implications. The Modi-fication in the Aadhaar might be that the BJP government will want the exercise to be done by the NPR (National Population Register).

“If the statements of Modi were to be recollected, he criticised giving ID to immigrants from other countries. Keeping in view Modi’s statements on Pakistan and Bangladesh, it seems some kind of biometric drive for identity will continue. Having invested huge amounts on this project, looks like Aadhaar is here to stay,” says Abhijit Sen, who stepped down a few days back as member of the Planning Commission. “The role of Aadhaar might be re-appraised,” he added.

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