It took me a few months to get my hands on my Aadhar card. But once I had it, there were no emotions to express my joy. After moving to a new place, it became my only valid proof of residence. That means I could sign up for an internet service, get a new post-paid mobile connection, or even open a brand new bank account.
One ID to rule them all. Certainly.
According to the numbers, around 88% of the Indian population has already signed up for an Aadhar number. Two things that helped achieve this number are benefits linked exclusively to Aadhar subscribers by the government, and secondly the ease of signing up for one.
But Aadhaar isn’t all that green. It is the world’s biggest biometric database which makes it more attractive for security breaches. Privacy remains a strong concern for a large chunk of the Indian population given how we don’t have a single solid privacy law in the country.
Another thing that annoys most people (and sometimes me as well) is the way the government keeps on making Aadhaar mandatory for key services. Just yesterday, we got to know Aadhaar would be mandatory for filing taxes now. If you thought having a PAN was enough, think again. That’s not all. The government is keen on linking Aadhaar to all bank accounts, and in all probability a major chunk of all other things one can imagine.
The next note-bandi might be just Aadhaar-bandi
Aadhaar will basically serve as an easy identifier for the government linked databases. This will also include all financial holdings for citizens, which was earlier tied to PAN. Imagine all medical, financial, government records tied to one single identification number in the near future. It sounds convenient but it’s equally scary too.
The current government which loved to make all sorts of jokes about the whole UID project is now keen on making it a grand success. The Supreme Court doesn’t want the government to extend support for Aadhaar in a way that makes it mandatory but the government is the legitimate mafia. They continue to find loopholes to bring Aadhar in everyone’s pocket.
But if you pack all your worries in a sack and think about the advantages you may just start loving Aadhaar. I don’t know if it’s the convenience of walking in to a mobile phone operator’s store, and walking out with a working connection in less than 30 minutes or getting banks to open a new account without multiple IDs or introductions from existing customers, all I know is Aadhaar has a grand vision to make our lives easier.
I do understand it will take a lot more for the government to reassure the citizens. I do agree we need a strong privacy bill right now. I also know we are highly likely to have security breaches and misuses going forward. All these still need to be addressed.
But for now, I’m happy to press my thumb against a fingerprint reader in the hope of better, and quicker services.