All you need to know about Aadhar

Have you been wondering why there is so much fuss about Aadhar? Read on to understand why it is touted as the most sophisticated ID programme in the world

Have your parents been discussing the linking of Aadhar card with PAN card of late? Have you seen announcements in the newspaper urging people to link their Aadhar card with their ration card? It is not something that concerns only adults. You too can have an Aadhar card if you wish to and own a 12-digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian citizens. Using the Aadhar card, one can avail oneself of the benefits under the various government welfare schemes. But the Supreme Court has made it clear that the card is not mandatory for receiving these services.

What’s Aadhar card?

As a citizen of India, you can get yourself an Aadhar card, which is a 12-digit unique-identity number by registering your biometric and demographic data. Biometric data collected for the Aadhar card includes your photograph, prints of your fingers and a scan of your irises. This information is stored in a centralised database. Simply put, it is a proof of your identity, just like your school id card. The school id has your photo and gives information about you: your name, roll number, class and your address. It will be relevant within your school and can be used outside to some extent. But Aadhar is your official proof and relevant all over the country . The Aadhar card can be produced as an identification document in banks or to procure a SIM card, for instance.

What’s the background?

The Aadhar card is issued and managed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The need for a national identity card for the citizens of India was mooted post the Kargil War (1999) primarily for national security. The UIDAI was formed in 2009 and functioned as an attached office of the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog). The Aadhar project was launched in September 2010, with the first Unique ID card issued in Tembhli village, Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, when the United Progressive Alliance government, led by the Congress Party, was in power.

The main objective of the project was eliminating middlemen, corruption, fraud and black-marketing in the transfer of subsidies and welfare schemes to the people. The 12-digit unique number was linked to schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), initially as part of Direct Benefit Transfer schemes. The subsidy/wages are directly transferred to the beneficiary to his/her bank account which is Aadhar-linked.

Why Aadhar?

Following are some of the benefits of enrolling in the Aadhar project.

1. By linking their Aadhar number with their bank and LPG distributor, a family can receive LPG subsidy credited directly to their bank account.

2. The Aadhar number is necessary to get the benefits of pension schemes and employee provident fund.

3. The card is used as a ‘Know Your Customer’ document in banks.

4. It is accepted as proof while applying for a passport.

5. The Aadhaar card/number is sufficient to open a bank account under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, a project that ensures people have access to financial services.

6. Aadhaar has been made mandatory to file Income Tax returns. PAN will also need to be linked to Aadhaar.

Who’s who?

1. Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys, was appointed in June 2009 to head the Aadhar project. He was named the Chairman of UIDAI.

2. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, former Director General and Mission Director, UIDAI, was appointed the Chief Executive Officer in July 2016.

What do we know about similar systems in other countries?

Malaysia : MyKad is the Malaysian version of Aadhar. All adult permanent residents should own a MyKad card. It can be used as an ATM card, digital wallet and much more.

Brazil : The Brazilian Association of Digital Identification Technology Companies (Abrid) offers biometric and digital identification for its citizens.

Indonesia : Indonesia’s eKTP is a single verification document needed to receive a number of public services.

How many people have been enrolled into Aadhar?

In January 2017, Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said more than 111 crore people have an Aadhaar number.

[Copyright By R. Keerthana ]