From the Viewsroom

Identity crises

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on January 31, 2020 Published on January 31, 2020

Calls for linking Aadhaar to voter id, bank accounts have resurfaced

Recent instances of authorities aggressively prompting citizens to link their electoral cards with the unique identification number are a matter of concern. The Supreme Court has said that linking Aadhaar to other ids and bank accounts could amount to privacy being compromised. Yet, after a lull, scores of banks have also started asking their consumers to link their accounts with the Aadhaar number, calling it ‘mandatory’ under law. Given that the country is going through a difficult and uncertain phase where matters such as identity, citizenship and voting rights have become fodder for intense public debate — especially after the passage of the new Citizenship Amendment Act, which has polarised the society along socio-political and religious lines, mainly over how ‘citizenship’ should be defined and determined and maintained — the latest push to ‘link’ Aadhaar would appear to have links with the CAA, the now controversial National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens, according to many rights activists.

The Aadhaar story is an long one, and its use and alleged abuse had triggered controversy in the recent past. Debates raging around the UID have not settled yet. Critics say the linking of Aadhaar to welfare programmes and other essential and important services and programmes allows for state overreach and micromanagement of the citizenry, which will end up giving the government Orwellian powers that could undermine the basic tenets of democracy. If you juxtapose this scenario with the current CAA controversy, an uneasy picture emerges. This is totally uncalled for. The government should wait to clear the air on the CAA before pushing to link Aadhaar with voter ids, if at all necessary.

Banks and other agencies, which have now resumed sending messages to customers asking them to link the UID with their accounts, must know that their actions involve an apparent breach of SC guidelines, and must desist from confusing customers. People are wary of juggling with multiple identity cards and documents which, unfortunately, have not introduced any visible enhancements to the services they have been receiving for years. On the contrary, such identity approval missions and their allied ‘benefits’ have made life a lot more difficult in recent times.

The writer is Deputy Editor with BusinessLine

Published on January 31, 2020
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