AADHAAR Revisited

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The Centre recently made it mandatory to link Aadhaar
with PAN from 1 Jul’17 to strengthen PAN which will
be required to file Income Tax Return. If a PAN holder
needs not to file an ITR or pay tax, even then the issued
PAN card will become invalid if not linked to Aadhaar.
Aadhaar can be linked with PAN by SMS to 567678 or
56161 or online. The Centre has further made it
compulsory to link all bank accounts with Aadhaar
before 31 Dec’17 under Prevention of Money
laundering Act amendment failing which the accounts
would be non-operational. The new accounts must be
opened via Aadhaar or the proof of application for same
and all the financial transactions above Rs 50000 will
require Aadhaar effective 1 Jun’17. SBI has also
announced to use Aadhaar from July 1in Recruitment
Process for verification purpose. To keep check in
corruption and fraud cases, the government has
obligated TB patients to submit their Aadhaar cards or
get enrolment done by 31 Aug’17. Southern Railways
has also declared e-Aadhaar as a valid ID proof for
travel and the same will be soon used in government
departments as well. Days after, the Survey of India has
also made Aadhaar a imperative to access download of
three non-defence maps everyday out of 3,000 maps
which are kept open for public and other maps are
waiting clearance, so that only Indians can access it.
There are even talks to make Aadhaar essential for
driving license so that reckless drivers do not use
duplicate license to escape the law. It is additionally
used for forensic purposes. The Aadhaar based
attendance system is being used in Govt. offices. States
like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh has
necessitated Aadhaar for Ration to remove duplication
and provide benefits effectively. Maharashtra is using
Aadhaar to enrol students in Govt. school. PM Modi
also directed to issue Aadhaar for all prisoners in India.
The linking with passport is also in testing phase since
it will make the process faster on ground that the
verification would be easier. Also, Department of
Telecom had asked all operators to issue SIM based on
Aadhaar and finger prints are being for affirmation.
Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation of
India (EPFO) tried to link Aadhaar for its subscribers.
A blue colour Bal Aadhaar is issued to children below 5
years of age which needs to be replaced by new updated
Aadhaar after attaining age of 5. Unique Identification
Authority of India (UIDAI) has asked to give priority to
the GST applicant or tax payers for the process. The
biometric Aadhaar payment system AadhaarPay,
Aadhaar-based smart cards will be launched shortly.

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A number of questions and concerns have been raised
and in fact, has made it a controversial debate. The
PAN-Aadhaar linking was challenged by the critics on
various grounds but it was backed by Supreme Court
ruling quoting that around 11 lakhs fake PAN cards is a
big reason to make it mandatory. In fact, there are only
4 crore tax payers out of 25 crore PAN holders. But still
how can government force those who don’t have
Aadhaar card yet. Another challenge is that the Date of
Birth and Gender in PAN and Aadhaar must be exactly
same. In country like India, where many people
especially those born before 1988 don’t know their
D.O.B., how it will be ensured by them. Also, those
people who hold multiple PANs are now anxious how
they will save tax and thus opposing it. It seems the
linking will help to handle, curb and monitor black
money, money laundering and tax evasion more
effectively.

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Aadhaar works via biometric i.e. Iris and Fingerprint.
But what if someone doesn’t have eyes or fingers or
fingerprints are damaged as a process of any accident or
if same happen in future. Also, finger prints can be
forged by experts using technology. A deceitful
combination of both can also be used. How the
authority is going to handle these and the quality of the
biometric data being collected. Is the biometric devices
and the process being used are safe for skin and eyes.

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1.15 billion Indians possess Aadhaar cards whose data
is located in servers in Bangalore and Manesar and is
submitted to the Central Identities Data Repository
(CIDR) for verification with 15 crore left to enrol. 20
million transactions are authorised every day by an
Aadhaar Authentication service which can handle 100
million authentications a day while the total
authentications has surpassed 6 billion by 11.5 million
biometric devices being used. 130 million Aadhaar
number were assumed to be leaked whose news was
brushed off. However, the Govt. tried to make sure
Aadhaar number is not available publicly and asked
agencies to either smudge the number or just display
last four digits. But what if there are chances of data
leakage. It can create havoc. What would be the impact
if it is accessed by terror organizations to enter the state.
There is fear that it can be misused for mass
surveillance or ethnic cleansing in the future, or that
people’s bank accounts can be back traced. The
Aadhaar is meant only for individuals residing in India,
then how the NRIs and foreigners would avail services
requiring Aadhaar, for instance, a Mobile SIM. How the
check is going to be done for the illegal immigrants.

The Aadhaar Act 2016 was meant for good governance
as a tool of transparency and efficiency in order to
provide subsidies, benefits and services. The other
purpose was an identity for everyone but not meant to
be a proof of citizenship. Also, it was supposed to be
voluntary and no person was supposed to be deprived of
benefits due to absence of Aadhaar. Thus, the questions
have been highlighted on the democratic choice of
people and their privacy. But, these people readily
provide personal information already while availing
services using various applications then why they are
worried that Aadhaar would affect their privacy. There
are various myths that people believe as it is plausible
for them to consider so given the human nature and the
no clarity about how Aadhaar is being used and
accessed at the back end. There is speculation that the
telecom company can use biometric, however the truth
is that biometric cannot be stored by them and it is
encrypted by service provider and sent to UIDAI at the
instant. But what’s the surety that companies or anyone
else in possession of such information won’t do it. To
counter this, new specifications have come up with a
lock on biometric device itself that needs to be followed.
The govt. has not clearly mentioned in detail the
security aspect of Aadhaar. There are still doubts
regarding poor validation of the database.

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However, many businesses have flourished easily with
the help of Aadhaar. For instance, Reliance Jio was able
to achieve million customers in a short time due to
Aadhaar enabled verification. Aadhaar turned to be
fruitful when recently AKTU was asked to submit
Aadhaar and PAN card of all the teachers and it was
found that on papers there were 4000 teachers but
documents were furnished only for 11000 indicating
29000 fake teacher counts was used for unfair means
Aadhaar has been mentioned as the most sophisticated
ID programme in world by World Bank Chief
Economist, Paul Romer and became the world’s
largest online digital identity platform. Aadhaar indeed
seems to be a tool for tackling black money, crime,
corruption, money laundering, a path towards progress
and revolution but there are various loopholes and
challenges including strict data protection law, data
integrity, national security, privacy concerns, that
needs to be taken care by the government to make it
more acceptable.

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