Everybody wants an Aadhaar card. But why?

The much talked about and hyped Aadhaar card still remains a mystery to many, but the rush at the registration counters tells a different tale. On closer look one finds that though people are rushing to the centres to get their Unique Identity (UID) cards, they do not know the exact purpose.

Most citizens believe that since it is a government document, it is required. However they do not know if it is mandatory to have an UID or not.

UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani with residents receiving their Aadhaar cards. Credit: uidai.gov.in

Narayan K, a businessman operating from Chickpet, got his Aadhaar card made a year ago. He says that the card was made right at his door step; “Since I was not losing anything I got it made – without spending money or time, unlike other government documents. But I have just kept the card in my cupboard as it is of no use.”

The businessman had been told that Aadhaar would be a valid government document, but was surprised to note that it did not have his date of birth, even though he had been required to furnish proof of age while applying for the ID. On inquiry from the counter officials, he was told that it is a proof of nationality and nothing more. “But I was not convinced, I tried the numbers available on the UID website but they proved to be of no use as the helplines are constantly busy and officials are not available to talk to citizens,” says Narayan.

Lakshmamma, a domestic help residing near KR Market, has similar feelings: “I stood in the queue for an entire day and got my card made. I was told that the card will help me get aid from the government – benefits in food ration, subsidies in medical treatment and other facilities. But it has all come to waste. It is just lying at home like any other card. I was also told that it will help in bank transactions, but they have been the same as before with no changes.” She also got her card made a year ago.

Those who haven’t got their cards yet seem to be more positive about it. Jahnabi B, a resident of Indiranagar, Bangalore, who is yet to enroll for the card says, “I will get it done at the earliest as I was told that the Aadhaar number is important for provident funds transfer from one office to the other.” Jahnabi has heard that in case she wants a transfer of her Provident Fund savings from her present employer to a new employer, or withdraw the same, she would need to furnish an Aadhar number to the bank and to the PF office for faster processing. This convinces her of the need to get one.

What is the use of Aadhaar?

Strangely, even the UID authority has not much to share that can help to throw more light on the use and application of Aadhaar. The UIDAI merely mentions that Aadhaar will have many benefits. It affirms that the UID is a proof of identity and “seeks to be a gateway to services,” being sufficient “Know-Your-Customer” information for many things like opening a bank account, getting a mobile connection and availing other State government services.

Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of the UIDAI, however confirms that the Aadhaar number does not stand as a substitute for other forms of identity. “The other proofs of identity exist for particular purposes,” says Nilekani. He also points out that the decision to use the Aadhaar number for various services is that of the agency implementing the service and is not taken by the UIDAI.

People queue up at an Aadhaar enrollment centre. Credit: uidai.gov.in

“In India, the purpose of the UID project is very simple; it is to give every Indian resident a unique number, preventing the kinds of duplication that currently exists. The complexity of the issue lies in ensuring that everybody in a population of 1.2 billion gets a unique number, and therein lies an enormous challenge of scale and technology. But issuing a unique number is just one part of the challenge. The other part is making sure that this number is used effectively. For this purpose, the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) is providing an online authentication capability. In such a scenario, we will be able to verify online anyone claiming to be Mr. XYZ with the unique number 123 as actually being that person. This combination of de-duplication and having unique numbers on one end, and the existence of online authentication at the other end is the core of the solution that the UIDAI is seeking to achieve.”

Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, UIDAI

Source: Inclusion

A senior official from Indian Oil, handling Indane, who does not wish to be named, says that 50 districts have been identified by the central government for linking the UID number of citizens with their LPG accounts, especially among the weaker sections of society, and enabling banks to directly transfer subsidy to them, thus eliminating other agents. In Karnataka, Mysore, Tumkur and Dharwad have been chosen. Over 70% of customers have been covered in Mysore, while work in Dharwad and Tumkur is yet to start. “We have been told to link Aadhaar with LPG subsidy and for consumers, UID number is being taken, as per the government’s scheme,” said the official.

In case of banks, benefits are yet to start for customers. An official from Indian Overseas Bank, who also wishes to remain anonymous, says that the benefits of Aadhaar work mostly for the weaker sections and those residing in rural and semi-urban areas. Once government orders are obtained, customers UID numbers will be taken to ensure financial aid is transferred directly to their accounts.

When will Aadhaar card be used by government agencies?

This, however, leaves a grey area around the question of when the UID will actually prove to be necessary for availing LPG subsidy, or sufficient documentation for opening a bank account or receiving direct transfers under any particular scheme. Nilekani stresses the need to ensure that there is no exclusion from services due to the non-availability of an Aadhaar number during the period of transition.

Even as the queues outside Aadhaar enrollment centres in Bangalore get longer, Dr DS Ravindran, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for E-governance admits that there is no scheme linked to Bangalore currently, to the best of his knowledge. “There is a direct cash transfer programme, where there is service delivery to Bangalore, but details of it are yet to be clarified. We are yet to understand why there is a rush at the centres and what is driving them in such large numbers,” wonders Ravindran.

What are the details on the card?

The UID card physically contains the name, sex, address, year of birth along with the 12-digit unique number assigned to the holder.

As Ravindran points out, it is not a valid document of date of birth, but is an identity proof of the person residing in India and in a particular address during the time of enrollment.

Srinivas Reddy and Anjali Devi, just after their enrolment. Pic: Yogaraj S Mudalgi

Adding to this, Ashok MR Dalwai, Deputy Director General, UIDAI regional office, Bangalore, says, “we are relying on the biometric, demographic (data) or even a combination of both while issuing the UID number. We are now thinking of including the date of birth in the card, rather than the year of birth alone.” The main benefit of the UID, he says, is that it recognizes an individual as a citizen of the nation and gives one a unique number; it also provides authentication facilities for verification of a person and ensure provision of services.

Another UIDAI official, on conditions of anonymity, reveals that over time and through experience, the team has learnt that inclusion of many personal details (such as date of birth) other than those initially included will make the card complete. But the question is how to do so now, after so many cards have been issued. The authority is thus grappling with the question of whether all cards should be called back, cancelled and re-issued or if there might be any other possibility.

The official also rules out the possibility of any kind of duplication, saying that the whole system is computerized and centralized, despite the existence of multiple data collection agencies across the country. “We would get to know that a person has already registered and it will show on the system. This will eliminate duplication. It is also being largely advertised to the masses that if they register once anywhere in India, they need not go anywhere else.”

According to officials from the e-governance department, who are vested with the responsibility for Aadhaar enrollment, over 20 lakh Bangaloreans have been issued the card so far. There are 68 centres in Bangalore alone, with 300 systems enrolling citizens.

An easier process?

While its actual use may still be far from clear, citizens do say that getting an Aadhaar card is easier, faster and better than procuring any other government document. Comparing it with the ration card or even a voter-identity card, Namrata M, a student points out that communicating with officials during the Aadhaar enrolment is much easier. They are multi-lingual, unlike officials involved in other government processes.

Moreover, corrections in case of Aadhaar card can be made immediately on the screen and there are usually no mistakes when the card arrives by post, unlike in case of the voter-ID or other government card.

About Bosky Khanna 0 Articles
Bosky Khanna is Staff Journalist, Citizen Matters.

25 Comments

  1. Aadhaar should ideally not require xerox copies of id proof to be given to every place we want to deal with. However, it is not a proof of nationality, since any resident can obtain Aadhaar. So much so, Home minisitry does not accept Aadhaar to check illegal immigrants around Bangladesh border and issued its own nationality card. It only ensures unique identification of a resident. But then to identify oneself one has to give permission to the institution seeking data for accessing the UIDAI data, as well as give biometric data. Without a biometric verification such as iris scan or finger print, UIDAI can not really authenticate. This in turn means the institutions seeking Aadhaar based verification must be able to take the biometrics and compare through UIDAI. All such institutions will have to buy finger print / iris scan capture systems. Can all service outlets in need of verification to provide a service do this?

    This is not a substitute to so many other ids. It is a means of ensuring multiple ids of some other type are not held by the same person. If ever voter ids are issued based only on Aadhaar, we should have the ability to prevent multiple voter id cards being held by the same person. Same holds for PAN card. If the driving license based on Aadhaar is impounded for any reason, such a person will not be able to get yet another driving license. But then these ids are currently used as proof for aadhaar and not the other way about. When our biometrics is taken by UIDAI, they have to compare it with the rest of the aadhaar biometrics in the national data base and ensure, it is unique and not a duplicate. That is why it takes time. Till the noose tightens, and every service that needs to control can make it mandatory, it is a useless card for control. But it is a long term program seeking to cover the entire population slowly and steadily. The benefits are not so obvious now.

    Technically Aadhaar is not a id card. It is just a number and when not used in conjunction with biometrics and verified with UIDAI, it can not be relied upon as a id proof. There is also a cost to such verification. The proof seeker has to pay UiDAI for each verification. None of them really care. That is the irony. The true beneficiary of Aadhaar is government. They can not benefit as long as courts do not accept their making it mandatory.

    To the poor this is a way of government providing direct subsidy or financial benefits. To those better off this is not so much of a benefit. Aadhaar has not been mandated by law yet. Govt’s effort to this end has been denied by courts. To this extent, its role as a deterrent for financial irregularities may have been crippled. It is a sort of unrealized grand control scheme.

  2. Aadhaar card must also give details about persons who are physically challenged as they are required to show some proof in several job applications and IT excemptions.The required comment can be indicated in the card itself.I find that online updating of Aadhaar card is quite simple .

  3. The NaMo govt is going aggressively to issue Aadhar Card for every Indians. It is good. But to make Aaadhar more effective and useful following are my suggestion:

    Make Aadhaar a primary identification card: Before issuing Aadhaar card all verification should be conducted including police verirication

    Only those who possess Aadhaar card should be allowed to apply for all other facilities that the govt provides.
    Quoting Aadhaar No. must be made compulsory for applying Gas connection, Driving license Purchase/selling of immovable property , opening of bank account, Applying for passport etc.,
    When a person moves to a different city/location he should be allowed to apply for change in address through online. This should be vetted through nearest police station to the aadhaar authorities. And the new aadhaar card with the new address should be issued within 15 days after surrendering the old aadhaar card
    To differentiate senior citizens should be given a different coloured Aadhaar Card.This eliminated the necessity of carrying another card to prove they are seniors
    First and foremost is Aadhaar must incorporate date of birth

  4. Aadhar will be more useful if it incorporates date of birth and also different colour should be introduced for senior citizens

  5. Can someone narrate their aadhar experience in New Vegetable Market, Malleshwaram, Bangalore, Bangalore North, Bangalore, Karnataka – 560003 centre?? or Karvy Basavangudi center?

  6. I
    My family has got the aadhar card done as we saw every body getting such card. It is absolutely of no use at all.
    You can not open an bank account with this card alone since we also require the PAN card.
    Ideally we should have one card which would serve the purpose of address proof,IT purpose, opening bank accpount etc . As at present this just another card along with driving licence, PAN card, Voter ID apart from electricity/telephone bills ( as proof of address).
    In its pressent form ,this card is total waste of national , tax payer’s money. You can imagine how much more money of the national will be wasted by Nandan Nillekeni to get an all purpose card??

  7. this govt will neveert pass any law that is useful to the citizens. if at all they pass that will be for their selfish end. we citizens also will keep quite meekly submitting to it. We have a Prime minister who says he is happy to ” work under” rahul gandhi and adds rahul gandhi is very truly qualified for the post of the Prime minister. He thinks what he was all along doing is the only role of a prime minister. Very Very unfortunate. I don’t think whether God even can save us and direct us to right path.

  8. Let a Law be made so that any data collected for this purpose can be used only by the government for only the purpose for it needs to be utilized and no other purpose and let any person or entity transferring this data to any other person or entity be strictly punished for it, otherwise let this scheme be discarded.

  9. i dont find any exclusive utility or purpose of Aadhaar card. it is merely inconveniencing citizens to wait and waste their valuable time. They say to gethe subsidized money in our bank a/c. If that does not happen who is to be complained with/ who is resposnsible/ who will ensure punctual deposit of subsidy. Already for various non compliances citizens are running after various agencies to get the faults rectified. Can any one evaluate correctly the age of the person if his/her year of birth alone is furnished?. on top of it the so called essential document is sent thro ordinary post where one might not receive it all and no ways to claim it .Another wasteful activity by Govt. They do not loose anything but definitely citizens, as usual.

  10. People are running for Aadhaar card as most of the Govt department are running blindly to link transaction along with Aadhaar card.If you notice UID has failed in its mission in providing Aadhaar card within the time of 60-90 days.In my case its since 30th November 2012 1 am awaiting my card.I am doing followup with UID/PM office-even PM office has forwarded my letter to planning commission but no response from them(All Govt deptts works like that.After meeting several times /followup now i got a message :UNDER PROCESS-NUMBER UNDER GENERATION???/Now only GOD knows when the card will come??My submission is why Mr nandan Nilekani is not getting co-operations from Govt agencies.

  11. People are running for Aadhaar card as most of the Govt department are running blindly to link transaction along with Aadhaar card.If you notice UID has failed in its mission in providing Aadhaar card within the time of 60-90 days.In my case its since 30th November 2012 1 am awaiting my card.I am doing followup with UID/PM office-even PM office has forwarded my letter to planning commission but no response from them(All Govt deptts works like that.After meeting several times /followup now i got a message :UNDER PROCESS-NUMBER UNDER GENERATION???/Now only GOD knows when the card will come??My submission is why Mr nandan Nilekani is not getting co-operations from Govt agencies.

  12. one year back my mother enrolled for aadhar card, so far it has not been delivered to the given address, and for the same address rest of the family members card has been delivered, when i checked in Web site it has shown as returned so how can i get my mother AAdhar Card, Bangalore region.

    Pl let the me know how to get the AAdhar card, awating for your valuable reply.

    Thanking you,

    Nagaraj.R

  13. I had gone and tried to apply for so called aadhar card more than 6 times. every time I try to apply some or other issue will be there in the enrolement centres. As some one rightly said we have to stand in line from early morning 5 am. then if I am falling in first sixty I may get enrolled on that particular day. Now I have a doubt who want to bring the system in administration government or myself. Why indian citizens are made suffer to stand in lines? Why cant government come door to door step and complete the activity ? I feel since it is free of cost no netas are interested in bringing AADHAR towards citizens. when it is coming collecting taxes things happen very faster. Many a times I get confused. IS government is their for the people or people are their for the government.

  14. ADHAR CARD CAN BE USED AS AN IDENTITY PROOF OF A PERSON OF THE COUNTRY. BUT, IT CAN NOT BE TREATED AS RESIDENTIAL PROOF. ONE PERSON CAN CHANGE HIS RESIDENCES VERY OFTEN. BUT THE ADDRESS GIVEN IN ADHAR CARD IS NOT PERMANENT IN NATURE,SINCE THE ADDRESS GIVEN AT THE PARTICULAR TIME AT THE TIME OF MAKING ADHAR CARD. THE RESIDENTIAL PROOF BEING ASKED BY THE ADHAR AUTHORITY IS NOT IN PERMANENT NATURE. SO THE BENEIFT OF GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE GIVEN BASED ON THE ADHAR NUMBER, BUT NOT BASED ON ADDRESS PROOF. ONE PERSON CAN NOT STAY FOR HIS WHOLE LIFE AT ONE PLACE IN THE COUNTRY AND HE CAN CHANGE IS RESIDENCE, WHICH IS HIS FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS IN THE COUNTRY AND AT THAT TIME,HOW ADHAR AUTHORITY CAN JUSTIFY THE ADDRESS GIVEN IN ADHAR CARD IS ADDRESS PROOF OF A PERSON.

  15. Everyone want aadhaar card because they see great potential in it. Already critics have been silenced. Aadhaar enabled DBT for 26 govt schemes has been successfully launched. Will citizen matters play a constructive role rather than blindly opposing the project without any basis.

  16. The so called Adhar Card was a good initiative but due to our pathetic system this has become a useless document. An individual who is APL doesn’t have any benefit of having this card. It is too risky to provide all biometric details which may be misused by Govt. Officials

  17. The ordeal is so much that one really unable to decide whether you need to undergo all these. I approached ITC PO, KR Puram for the same. By the time I reached the PO @ 9AM, there was a serpentine queue. Myself and daughter joined the line, soon queue was getting dispersed fast by one gentleman distributing forms. We came to know that only 60 people will be taken per day and to fall in that ‘lucky 60’, you have to come to PO at 5 AM and stand in the queue and get the token for the day. Standing for 4 hours in the queue to get the aadhar card done is it worth? I really do not know. Any way my husband has ruled out that he is not going to stand in the queue at 5 AM. What are the other alternatives I have as am worried about the every now and then hike in gas price and their announcement of submitting the aadhar number at the earliest for the subsidy to be received? Nobody knows…. The idea coming from a IT giant why can’t we submit the application online which connects to all PO based on your address and then you get an appointment how passport services is done? Probably he did not think about the ‘aam aadhmi’ who is so familiar with standing in the queue for each and everything required in their life…. Any way Indians will stand in a queue if you generate a fear psychoses like not getting gas subsidy. He knew it for sure……

  18. First UIDAI should announce the Name and address of the Aadhar centers in the news papers on daily basis. Otherwise each Ward Office should have a permanent Aadhar unit. Why so much of delay in getting the Aadhar Card? In this age of computer,when the UIDAI is headed by an IT professional, why can’t the Card be issued across the table once all the details are taken?
    There should be proper Offices opened for Aadhar Card Registration.
    I am 83, a senior citizen, and there is no arrangement in Koramangala Indoor Stadium UIDAI Center even to sit, while waiting to be called for.

  19. My wife and myself had enrolled for Aadhaar Card on 3 November 2012 at Rajarajeshwarinagar Bangalore 560098 (Bank of India premises) at around 10 am. Our Acknowledgement Copies indicated that our Cards would be delivered in 60-90 days.
    My wife received her Card on 7 January 2013 almost within 60 days, however my Card remains undelivered though over 90 days have passed since enrolment. On the UIDAI website my card issue status is shown as “Number under generation. Check back after few days” since January 8, 2013 till today.
    I have not only lodged an on-line complaint No. EUN01947369 but also sent an email to help@uidai.in without receiving any response till date. The toll-free helpline and a local Aadhaar landline are not responding.
    I visited the local Bangalore One Centre in RR Nagar, where the Aadhaar Enrolment Centre is now operating, to enquire about the delay and was advised that issue of cards sometimes extends beyond 60-90 days norm mentioned in the enrolment document. I was told that if the card was not received in next 2 months, I should re-enrol! What a nuisance!
    It appears that Mr. Nilekani’s brain-child is tangled in bureaucratic and political mess-up. As a senior citizen, I am truly disappointed.

  20. My wife and myself had enrolled for Aadhaar Card on 3 November 2012 at Rajarajeshwarinagar Bangalore 560098 (Bank of India premises) at around 10 am. Our Acknowledgement Copies indicated that our Cards would be delivered in 60-90 days.
    My wife received her Card on 7 January 2013 almost within 60 days, however my Card remains undelivered though over 90 days have passed since enrolment. On the UIDAI website my card issue status is shown as “Number under generation. Check back after few days” since January 8, 2013 till today.
    I have not only lodged an on-line complaint No. EUN01947369 but also sent an email to help@uidai.in without receiving any response till date. The toll-free helpline and a local Aadhaar landline are not responding.
    I visited the local Bangalore One Centre in RR Nagar, where the Aadhaar Enrolment Centre is now operating, to enquire about the delay and was advised that issue of cards sometimes extends beyond 60-90 days norm mentioned in the enrolment document. I was told that if the card was not received in next 2 months, I should re-enrol!
    It appears that Mr. Nilekani’s brain-child is tangled in bureaucratic and political red-tape. As a senior citizen, I am truly disappointed.

  21. I enrolled for my Aadhaar card in Sept 2012 and I am yet to receive my card.On tracking the status, it indicated that my data is yet to be received by processing center.No one from from the local aadhar office is helping in this regard.they are not even prepared to reply to my querry even though there is grievance number.
    Due to the mad rush , elderly persons are unable to get the card.
    There should be a separate service for eldely and physically challeged persons at each area.

  22. Please do not give your Bank Details or Bank Account number later Aadhar Department will misuse your details and you will suffer. Please do not give phone number since it will distrub your life and if you have a girl at home then everything is over.
    FROM
    ADVOCATE AJITH KUMAR

  23. I did my AADHAR card @IOB Malleswaram for accoun t holding people in 2011 November and I was told that it will delivered to me with 3 to 6 months? Till today I have not received it.

  24. How many more ID cards will an Indian need ??
    Nandan got himself a job as a IT revolutionary & this AADHAR card is as difficult as any of other cards like, Passport, Voter ID, Ration card, DL, PAN card, bank passbook, credit/debit card, etc etc. All the above have as much details & it is claimed this has Bio metric images of eyes & finger prints !!!
    Are we getting as frightened & Paranoid as Americans & Europeans ????

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