Can’t Hold Aadhaar Gun To People’s Heads

The government seems to be waking up to the downside of its bullying tactics on making the linking of Aadhaar with everything mandatory. It is mulling on allowing other proof of identity to be used as verification. And, that’s how it should be. When most utilities or services cannot be acquired without authentication, why is a gun being held to people’s heads when it comes to Aadhaar? Are we being told that a passport or ration card, perfectly legitimate and hard-earned identity documents, are not good enough?

The government’s focus may well be prevention of money laundering, a well-meaning and eventually beneficial move. But, the severe penalties announced for not linking Aadhaar with bank accounts are like taking a good thing beyond the boundaries of tolerance. The announcement had unleashed such a flood of ire from the public that it forced the government to seek time from the Supreme Court to come up with alternatives to dispense with the bullying tactics.

Meanwhile, students, too, have been dragged into the vicious circle of coercion, with the government announcing that SSC students from this year will have to submit Aadhaar details. Failure to do so may possibly see their results being withheld. Is this the regime of fear we want the next generation to grow up in?

In August, the SC had stressed on concrete and fool-proof data protection measures, while ruling that right to privacy was a fundamental right. With that came the hope that the mandatory linking of Aadhaar would be addressed, too. The decision on this is still pending with the apex court, with the government extending the deadline to link Aadhaar with bank accounts to March 31. Now, it’s up to us to keep up the pressure on the government to roll back its illogical decisions. It has to know there is a downside to continuously riling the common man.