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Implement Aadhaar, but it must be done with some robust security safeguards

Any new government initiative on Aadhaar is usually followed by a social media storm against it.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jun 27, 2017, 08.54 AM IST
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Any new government initiative on Aadhaar is usually followed by a social media storm against it.
Any new government initiative on Aadhaar is usually followed by a social media storm against it.
Aadhaar card has always been a hot topic in the country and it has become hotter now because of the central government's recent decision to link all bank accounts with it. And as the situation stands now, all unlinked bank accounts will become nonoperational from December 31.

The government mandated linking of Aadhaar with the Permanent Account Number (PAN) is also going on now. The Supreme Court only gave partial relief in this regard (i.e. if the tax payers don't have Aadhaar cards, their PAN numbers will not be invalidated. But others have to link the two). And the government says both these steps are necessary to reduce tax evasion.

The government has saved thousands of crores of subsidies in schemes, such as direct benefit of transfer for LPG and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MNREGA) by eliminating bogus beneficiaries with the help of Aadhaar.

The government has also asked telecom operators to verify every phone connection with the help of Aadhaar. The trigger for this move came from Supreme Court order, which asked government to verify all phone numbers.

Reverification of phone numbers became necessary after several terrorists are caught with 20-30 phone connections taken with the help of fake documents.Though the court did not specify this verification should be done using Aadhaar, the government has decided to use the unique identity for the exercise.

Any new government initiative on Aadhaar is usually followed by a `social media storm against Aadhaar' and it is not different this time. If you take a closer look, you will notice that most of these social media storms are `manufactured' by fake handles repeating the same lies again and again. And the most important argument by them is that “Aadhaar is totally illegal".

So, let us start with its legality first. Most of the confusion in Aadhaar is created by the previous government because they did not pass the necessary law and tried to run Aadhaar under executive orders. The new government passed the necessary law as a money bill and since the Supreme Court has not stayed or scrapped this law, Aadhaar is perfectly legal now.

Most other arguments against Aadhaar by social media activists are also frivolous. For example, they are now spreading lies that the “government will take over your bank account if you link it with Aadhaar". I think the real worry is from the people who have multiple PANs or who have opened several bank accounts without providing PANs.

And with the PAN-Aadhaarbank account linking happening, the income tax department will have access to all their bank accounts (even the accounts where they have not given PAN) and that is the main reason for resistance against this linkage. And then there may be several bank accounts opened with fake names and for them, the threat of government confiscating their accounts looks real.

Opposition to Aadhaar also comes from citizens concerned about data leakage, and I am one of them. So, should we dump Aadhaar due to this? No need, as it will be like saying that we should avoid medicines altogether because it has side effects. This kind of leak will happen with any database. For example, there are several instances of PAN data leaks and passport details being misused, but not anyone has demanding scrapping of them. What is needed, on the other hand, is the implementation of Aadhaar with improved safeguards.

Also Read

Norms of Aadhaar KYC eased, not of changing address in Aadhaar card

Piped-water scheme to be Aadhaar-linked

PAN-Aadhaar interchangeability: 6 instances where you can use Aadhaar number instead of PAN

CBDT notifies PAN-Aadhaar interchangeability

PAN-Aadhaar linking: What will happen if PAN is not linked with Aadhaar by September 30?

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