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Aadhaar requirements modified

Aadhaar is here to stay thanks to the Supreme Court. Much maligned, the official identification system for Indian citizens can be in vogue for certain aspects, but cannot be allowed to be misused by private entities to promote their personal interests. This is the sum and substance of the verdict passed by a five-member apex court bench this week, by majority view and with only one judge giving his dissenting note. The Aadhaar listing process was initiated by the UPA government and carried forward by the present NDA government. To have an identification system of this kind for a population of one billion plus is by itself a herculean task. The benefits of the system are there for all to see, but there were also those who were not ready to acknowledge its importance or necessity. They questioned the impact it will have on one’s right to have personal privacy. A citizen’s personal background is there for public display, and anyone could tamper with the system and the information thereof. So went the argument.

The apex court has made it clear that while Aadhaar can carry on, private entities are barred from using or misusing its contents. It also stressed that Aadhaar is not a requirement for banking and for mobile phone connections. It, however, is a must for citizens seeking benefits of the government’s social welfare schemes. Importantly, the apex court has also ruled that passing the Aadhaar as a money bill in Parliament – so as to thwart opposition blockage in Rajya Sabha – was fine.

Aadhaar is the need of the times. That India has brought its citizens under this project is a remarkable feat. The team of Nandan Nilekani has done a good job, though there is scope for perfection in every scheme. Having an identity card for the citizens is nothing to be frowned upon. The fears of violation of one’s privacy far outweighs the benefits of the scheme.  These are times when the nation is faced with terrorist infiltrations, illegal migrations from Bangladesh and elsewhere, and militant activities. For the cops maintaining law and order, identification of an individual is of prime importance. These are also times of major financial frauds and banking scams and of their perpetrators flying abroad to safe tax havens. Proven identity is a matter of great importance. Aadhaar has accomplished this. Corrections and modifications can carry on.

 

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