Thursday, April 16, 2015

Aadhar set to cross 100 crore mark in 2015: 81 crore done and counting fast

India is one of the few countries in the world, whose citizens does not have an ID card. Aadhar was supposed to change that. Aadhar the 12-digit individual identification number has crossed 81 crore and is all set to reach 100 crore mark in 2015 or in first quarter of 2016. The current run rate is more than 2.3 crore every month which if continues will take us close to 100 crore mark by the end of this year and even cross it.

It has become a base tool for doling out various government benefits including subsidies and is even being used for issuance of basic services like mobile numbers by private players. There are also talks about matrimonial websites insisting on Aaadhar-verification to root out fake profiles of prospective brides and grooms from such platforms.

This is 1 scheme which if UPA had done a sincere job would have reaped great benefit out of it. The program was stuck in tussle between Home Ministry & Finance Ministry/Planning Commission. In 2014, many people had almost written it off. The turning point came when the UIDAI founder Nandan Nilekani met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was successful in convincing the NDA government about benefits of Aadhaar. As a result, speculations soon subsided about UIDAI hitting the end of the road under the new regime.

Subsequently, the government has begun using Aadhaar for weeding out the ghost beneficiaries of subsidies and other benefits, as also to curb corruption and to put an additional layer of checks against terrorism and other crimes.

In his first Union Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley even increased the allocation for the project to Rs 2,039 crore, from Rs 1,550 crore in the previous fiscal, while making it clear that the new government wants to use Aadhaar platform for 'anywhere and anytime authentication' for providing host of services and benefits to the citizens.

When the project was started, UIDAI was mandated to collect biometrics of 60 crore residents in the country and rest of the population was to be covered under the National Population Register (NPR) project. However, it has already crossed 81 crore.

Initially, UIDAI was to enrol residents in 18 states in the country. Realising the importance of Aadhaar project and slow progress by NPR, the previous government allocated four more states -- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar to UIDAI for enrolments in February 2014.

Aadhar has the potential to revolutionize how public services are delivered in India.


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