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Is The Aadhaar Card A Boon Or A Sheer Wastage Of Money?

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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.

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  1. Neeraj Ramchandran

    Isn’t it ironic that one one hand you talk about corruption and on the other hand you yourself bribed someone. This is what Manmohan Singh had talked about a few days back – ‘the Supply side of corruption’

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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