‘Making Aadhaar mandatory in public services will lead to exclusion’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on March 07, 2017

As the NDA government pushes to make Aadhaar mandatory for more and more public services (120 as of now) even as a case against the Unique Identity (UID) project is pending in the Supreme Court, civil society organisations have alleged that the poor, especially women and children, face exclusion, in legal entitlements related to food, nutrition and education.

At a press conference on the eve of International Women’s Day, Amrita Johri of Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS), which has done social audits in Delhi, said: “Exclusion is happening at two levels – while applying and at delivery.”

Johri said: "Aadhaar relies on internet and electricity. This might seem like a problem only in rural areas. But we don't have to go far. In South Delhi in East Mehraam Nagar there is a ration shop with no signal, no network.”

Citing the example of Delhi, Anjali Bhardwaj of SNS, said "In the public distribution system in Delhi originally Point Of Sale (PoS) machines were installed on a pilot basis in 42 ration shops. Official data showed that from the 42 original shops where the pilot project was carried out, by March 2017 only 18 shops remained.”

When shop-owners were asked why they were no longer appearing on the official page of the Food Ministry, they said they had returned the machines because there were too many difficulties,” she added.

Gita from Laal Gumbad, Delhi, said her husband, eldest daughter and she had UID numbers while her other three children did not. “"I gave birth certificates of three of my children who did not have Aadhaar. But they said Aadhaar is mandatory, then I got their Aadhaar cards made, but when I went again they told me that now the quota is over and I cannot get rations."

Alleging “weeding out” of people from “hard-won” legal entitlements, Usha Ramanathan, an independent legal researcher, said: "We are at a point when 50 per cent children are malnutritioned, and now we are saying that they will not get food because they do not have an Aadhaar card."

She said the UID project began with the premise that the poor would be given an identity. “Now, you will not get your entitlement if you don't have this number,” she said, adding that "what we are seeing today is rampant and shameless illegality by the State. The UID inverts the idea of transparency. It makes people are transparent but the state opaque."

Dipa Sinha of Right to Food Campaign, which has filed case in Delhi High Court, said "in the context of children, issues of privacy and consent are even more important,” and questioned “why do children have to be numbered and marked to get meals?”

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Published on March 07, 2017
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