New Delhi: Six years after the first Aadhaar card was issued a billion people in India have a unique number allotted to them. Over 93% adults have a smart card, which not only provides them with an identity, but is also used to ensure that government subsidies go directly to the correct beneficiary.
- Over 93% adults now have unique identification number
- Aadhaar used to ensure government subsidies benefit target population
- Opposition raises concerns over privacy
Currently the Aadhaar number is not only used for Public Distribution System, the distribution of cooking gas and kerosene, it is also used to distribute payments for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, government pensions and the Employees' Provident Fund Scheme.
So far, 25.48 crore bank accounts, over 71% cooking gas connections and over 45% ration cards have been linked with the identification programme. The UIDAI authenticates over 40 lakh transactions per day.
But now, backed by the new Aadhaar act -- which gives legal sanction to the unique identification number programme -- the government plans to broaden its ambit to include more services and social security programmes. "We will try to persuade the Supreme Court to release more schemes," said Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Information Technology.
It was former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had asked Nandan Nilekani, then Infosys chief, to bring to life the government's ambitious plan.
Today, Mr Nilekani tweeted:
On the way, there were objections and concerns. Questions were raised - not only over privacy but even national security. In 2014, Mr Nilekani met Prime Minister Narendr Modi and was able to convince him that the Aadhaar number was a game changer. But Mr Nilekani and his team, which included the current head of the Telecom regulatory authority RS Sharma, continued their work.
Even today, while applauding the Aadhaar card, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "We however have issues on privacy and the manner of approach to undermine the Rajya Sabha."
The Supreme Court's constitution bench has to decide a number of cases around Aadhaar and violation of privacy. But Mr Prasad stressed that all data will be kept absolutely confidential.
The highest number of Aadhaar numbers have been issued in Uttar Pradesh, followed by Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar.