Sunday, 21 October 2018

Essay on Aadhaar Card : World’s largest biometric ID system for UPSC

Essay on Aadhaar Card : World’s largest biometric ID system for UPSC

Essay on Aadhaar Card
With the desire to curb fake and duplicate identities in the country, Aadhaar came as a sigh of relief. Aadhaar was introduced by the UPA government in 2010 with the basic intentions of making subsidy and benefit deliverance more effective and eliminate leakages in the process. It also aims to achieve social inclusion and more efficient public and private service delivery. Aadhaar gives each individual a 12 digit Unique Identity number (UID) based on their biometric and demographic data that includes photographs, fingerprints and retina scans. This UID is insusceptible to fraud and theft as it never starts with a 0 or 1 is not loaded with profiling or intelligence into identity numbers. The statutory body responsible for collecting and issuing the Aadhaar is Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). This body was established on 12 July 2016 by the Government of India, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, under the provisions of the Aadhaar Act 2016.
Aadhaar is the world's largest biometric ID system with over 1.154 billion enrolled members as of 11 June 2017. 99% of the Indians aged 18 and above had been enrolled in Aadhaar till date. World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer has described it as "the most sophisticated ID program in the world".

Need of Aadhaar as digital identity
Today, many Indian residents hold several forms of identity proofs for different purposes such as a voter ID card, a ration card for accessing the public distribution system, a Permanent Account Number (PAN) card for tax registration, a driver's license, and a passport. The application and verification process for each of these IDs is different and procedurally complex. The government proposed creating a single biometric identification system that would define Indian residents and their access to public services. Aadhar Card is in sync with the Digital India Initiative of PM Narendra Modi. Several features of Aadhar card facilitate digital identity.
1. The document of the card itself is electronic in PDF format which can be printed online.
2. A QR Code gives digital XML representation of some core details of the card.
3. The number and some limited details can be validated online (name being excluded).
4. Details can be updated electronically using a mobile phone number and/or email as the second factor of authentication.
5. The system collects a photo, all 10 finger scans, and both eyes iris scan.

Benefits of the Aadhar Card
Apart from being used in a wide range of identification proof, the Aadhar card has lots of other benefits, too. Using Aadhaar card as identity proof, one can get LPG subsidy directly transferred into one's bank account under the PAHAL scheme. With it being a digital ID proof, it is accepted as ID in getting new SIM, vehicles and many other things. With Aadhaar card being linked to DigiLocker, Aadhaar-holders can scan and save their documents on the cloud, and can share them with the government officials whenever required without any need to carry them.

Aadhaar Applications in Public and Private Service Delivery

Employee Absenteeism
Nowadays, many central and state government offices are using Aadhaar authentication for (clocking in) employees. There is a central record of every employee's clocking in and clocking out time with each ministry. Finger impression and four unique digits of Aadhar card are used for the authentication system. As a result of the same, the government employees are more punctual than ever and are spending 15 to 20 minutes more on their desks.

Aadhaar and Financial Inclusion
According to various stakeholders, Aadhar has been found to play an important role in speeding up the "Know Your Customer" (KYC) process. The Central government has recently announced Aadhaar card as a mandate document for opening new bank accounts and for transactions above 50,000 Rs. All existing account holders will also have to submit their Aadhaar details by December 31, 2017, failing which accounts will be deemed invalid. This will further ease the present cumbersome KYC process of India.

Providing an identity to previously excluded populations
Aadhar has been proven to introduce the process of shifting from relational to individualized personal identity. Its value as a form of identity indicates that those who were previously marginalized can now included in a number of welfare programs. For example: the most common identity card ration card issued to the whole household in the name of the male head of household. Segments of population which were earlier excluded from individual identity, like women, migrants, transgender individuals, sex worker and tribal populations in remote areas have now been given their unique identity proof UIDAI which has adopted a wide approach of being as inclusive as possible in order to reach the remotest parts of the country. The government has encouraged all the citizens of India to get the enrolment by setting up stalls in nook and corners of the country for documentation purpose.

Exclusions
Aadhaar doesn't confer the citizenship nor guarantees rights, benefits, or entitlements to anyone. Non resident Indians, overseas citizens of India and other resident foreigners may now find it difficult to avail services they could previously freely obtain, such as local SIM cards; despite assurances to the contrary.

Conclusion
Aadhaar has been found to have direct value in creating digital infrastructure through which social and financial transfers can take place. To enhance transparency and realize its potential as a game changing tool Aadhar should be accessible and relevant to all urban and rural population and the rich and the poor. To make the system foolproof, more research needs to be done using economic and sociological analysis and law on privacy protection must be passed to make it more secure and trustworthy.

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