NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court’s restrictions over the Aadhaar project has taken the wind out of several marque projects under the Digital India programme, including the Digital Locker project. The department of electronics and information technology (DEITY) is now working on alternatives that will act as means of authentication along with Aadhaar to revive some of these projects.
According to a senior government official, there are around five projects under Digital India for which alternatives are being discussed currently.
Take for instance the DigiLocker project, which is a way to store, receive and authenticate documents on the virtual locker on the Internet. It made a good start after being launched by the Prime Minister in July this year only to have stagnated in the following months due to the uncertainty over their linkage with Aadhaar.
The number of users registered on the platform swelled by 71.8% to 8,96,527 at the end of July but has been registering low single digit growth since August – when the first Supreme Court order came on Aadhaar restricting it use. At the end of December, the number of users who are on the DigiLocker platform 10,50,335.
The official said that for Digilocker, authentication means such as PAN card, e-KYC of the banks, and digital signatures are some of the other options which are being considered. “Even without the Supreme Court’s mandate, we have to give other options to citizens since some of them many not have access to Aadhaar,” the official added. The person said that by linking these projects only through Aadhaar, the government doesn’t want to make it mandatory in any way. “But, the inherent advantage that Aadhaar had of seamless authentication can’t be taken away,” said the official adding that with authentication means, the government is adding a layer which is the same as verifying documents in physical world.
Other projects which are inherently linked to Aadhaar include esign, Jeevan Pramaan or Digital Life Certificate for pensioners, and Digitise India, the government records digitisation drive project among others.
While Jeevan Pramaan is a biometric enabled system built on Aadhaar for over 10 million pensioner families in India to provide digital life certificates for disbursement of their pensions, e-sign is designed to enable authentication of documents on the fly and on a real-time basis through the Aadhaar authentication platform.
It is being pitched as a convenient alternative for the current process of getting a digital signature, which is cost intensive, time consuming and relatively unsafe.
Similarly under the Digitise India platform, the government has roped in common citizens to digitize its physical records through the crowd sourcing model. The identity and authentication of the crowd agents is done through the Aadhaar number and their remuneration is also credited to their Aadhaar linked bank account number.
ET has reported earlier this week that the government is getting ready to convince the Supreme Court about the use of Aadhaar in improving governance. The Cabinet secretary will helm the drafting of a strategy along with senior government secretaries on extending Aadhaar to more government services.