By Onkar Nath:
Ever since I was a child, I had been wondering about my identity. During my childhood days, I saw my father carrying a ration card where my name was included as a family member for accessing rations through the public distribution system. When I was in my teens, I came to know about the voter identity card and then I learnt from somebody that for going abroad, I need to have a passport. In 2010, I heard about the Aadhaar Card and learnt that it will enable us to get the advantages of the government welfare schemes.
Last year, I applied for the Aadhaar Card and since then I have not able to understand what it exactly entails. How many identity cards do I need in order to prove that I am a citizen of this country? As per the report, the benefit of Aadhaar Card is that it is a unique and a universal number assigned to us. No resident can have a duplicate number since it is linked to their individual biometrics. Then what about the voter identity card, is it not unique? Can I assume that under the same name and photo, somebody else also has a voter identity card? If it is true then the voter identity card stands redundant. Another benefit is that it will include those who do not have any existing proofs of identity, so it apparently will try to reach the poor and marginalised residents who often lack the basic identification documents. An introducer system will establish an identity for these residents. I had witnessed this personally and found that the system was full of corruption. Without knowing or even partially knowing the procedure, an introducer was certifying the identity of the residents. Can you imagine how the introducer system would be working at the block level and in remote areas? I can also give you an example of the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) facility for farmers. There are a number of cases where a broker or a bank manager is taking bribe/commission to release money under the KCC to the farmers and the poor.
Here, I am not questioning the ability and capability of Mr. Nandan Nilekani, who heads the Unique Identification Authority of India. Everybody knows the fact that he is a great person, my concern is about management. Whether it is about the management of the Public Distribution System, the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MNREGA), making sure the facility of the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) is available for the poor farmers. At each step there is corruption. And as a true citizen of this country, I have experienced all of this. Even for attaining a residential certificate from the block office, I had to bribe a peon a sum of fifty rupees. Considering the rate of inflation, I think rates would have gone to a hundred bucks.
Considering the mammoth expenditure behind the Aadhaar Card, the amount of money that will be wasted in the form of bribe/commission makes me wonder. If the roots are not strong, you cannot expect a tree to bear fruit. I do agree that the Aadhaar Card will have a lot of benefits for the poor and marginalised residents, but for that we need to ensure that these marginalised residents get the Aadhaar Card.
As per my limited knowledge, I would like to suggest that one must try to ensure effective implementation and management of social welfare schemes. We do not need to introduce new schemes every day without ensuring the proper implementation of schemes. Instead of allocating an amount of Rs. 70,000 crores for the Aadhaar Card, we need to try to spend half of that money on the effective discharge of the preparation of the voter identity card. It is our money that we pay in the form of taxes so the government must not waste it for the sake of getting votes. What is the guarantee that the next government will not introduce another form of an identity system apart from the Aadhaar? There was also some serious concern raised by the parliamentary standing committee about the Aadhaar Card. I do not want to go into those details as I have already stated my views as a citizen of this country and hope the government does not disappoint us this time around.