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The Big Picture – Legislative Backing for Aadhaar: How will it help?

  • March 11, 2016
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The Big Picture – Legislative Backing for Aadhaar: How will it help?

 

The Narendra Modi government introduced the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. The legislation seeks to provide statutory backing to Aadhaar and enable targeted delivery of subsidies and other benefits to the intended beneficiaries.

The Bill was introduced as a money Bill in the Lower House as it can be tabled and passed only in the Lok Sabha. However opposition parties have expressed concerns about calling Aadhar as Money bill. The issue of privacy has also been one of the sticky points in this regard. The article briefly deals with the issues involved.

What makes the Aadhaar platform suitable for direct benefit transfer?

  • It is transparent and has the potential to eliminate leakage. It does so by assigning a unique identity number to each resident.
  • The identity remains unique because of the inclusion of biometrics like finger prints and iris.
  • The platform offers benefits like portability to the beneficiaries.

There are three important issues that are debated around:

Tabling the Aadhaar as money bill the government is setting up a dangerous precedent. With this, the Rajya Sabha cannot make amendments to money bill passed by the Lok Sabha and can only make recommendations. It also has to return money bills to the Lok Sabha within 14 days from the date of their receipt, thus ensuring a time-bound process.

Privacy concerns around the Aadhaar project have been numerous, given that it requires the use of biometric information such as fingerprints and iris scans of citizens. Critics claim that without appropriate checks and balances, this information isn’t secure, and that it can be misused by the state itself—to profile people. There needs to have a effective robust law to protect privacy of the citizens.

The efficacy of biometric finger print is another issue that is not properly addressed. UIDAI in its various reports has come up with certain glitches that it faced during taking biometric details of a person. There are instances where people (especially in Villages) fail get proper thumb impression, apparently making them not eligible for subsidies. The government should come up with innovative solutions to address this issue.

Of course the process of moving over to an Aadhaar-enabled system may have its own set of complications. But they are not going to be insurmountable. The government must ensure that Aadhaar’s coverage extends to the poorest sections of the society so that they are not excluded from the subsidies.

Mains Question:

Q.1) Recently government tabled Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 as a money bill in the Lok Sabha thus completely bypassing Rajya sabha. Do u think this act of the government is harmful for the fedarilism of India. Comment.

Q.2) Address the outstanding issues associated with converting Aadhar in to an Act of Parliment?

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