Aadhaar confusion confounds Indian expats in the UAE

Despite being exempted, many claim they are forced to apply for the unique identity cards back home as they find it difficult to carry out critical transactions without them

Dubai: Despite an exemption announced by the Indian Government, Indian expats in the UAE claim they are being forced to apply for Aadhaar Cards as they cannot carry out critical transactions, financial or otherwise, without the unique identity cards from their home country.

“I was stuck very badly last month when I was trying to operate an existing bank locker and get a new insurance policy issued during a visit to my hometown Lucknow,” said a 42-year-old Dubai resident.

He said, “I was asked to furnish my Aadhaar Card in both cases as the payments were linked to a local savings account. I was hardpressed to explain to them that as a non-resident Indian, I did not have the card as I was not required to have one. But I realised I was only wasting my time and it was simpler to just go ahead and apply for an Aadhaar Card. I am now waiting for it to be issued.”

Similar problems

Many Indian expats reported similar problems not just with opening bank accounts and lockers back home, but also buying, selling and registering properties, getting gas connections and even taking Indian board examinations.

A 51-year-old media professional in Dubai said she was asked to provide her Aadhaar Card when she was trying to get a flat registered in her name in Gurgaon, near Delhi. “I was given to understand earlier that I was not entitled to an Aadhaar Card. But sadly, not many officials were in the know about the exemption for non-resident Indians. Why is there this ambiguity?”

She said most Indian expats visit India for short periods and do not have the time to go back and forth to get things done. “Our schedules are generally very tight and we want to finish off as many tasks as possible. So instead of arguing with someone who doesn’t know the rules, it’s more convenient to get oneself the Aadhaar Card and submit it wherever required.”

Gas connection

An elderly man and his wife, who have been in Sharjah for the last 10 years, said they were forced to apply for Aadhaar cards as they faced difficulties in getting a gas connection in their hometown in Uttar Pradesh. “The rules may say we don’t need the card, but the ground reality is different. The Government needs to create greater public awareness in India about the card’s exemption for non-resident Indians,” said the 83-year-old man.

Indian students without Aadhaar cards have also shared their experiences. A 16-year-old boy, who will be appearing for his Class 12 CBSE board exams in March 2018, said, “I was asked by my school to get an Aadhaar card when I travelled to Gujarat during the summer. We had a very short vacation but my mother somehow got it done as we feared I would not be allowed to sit for his exams otherwise.”

To an XPRESS query on the concerns of the Indian expat community, Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul said, “The Government of India has already clarified that NRIs are not eligible to enrol for Aadhaar and are therefore exempt from linking Aadhaar number with public services in India. This was the case, for example, for filing of income tax return and applying for PAN number, for which CBDT clarified vide a press release on April 5, 2017 that NRIs do not need to quote Aadhaar number.”

However, he said the consulate would convey the Aadhaar-related concerns and issues raised by expats to the Indian authorities.

– with inputs from Sapna Dhanwani