He lamented that Punjab was not getting its legitimate share of the RDF (Rural Development Fund) despite meeting all the criteria.
The Central government lashed out at Moody’s Investors Service report that claims that India’s digital ID programme Aadhaar’s reliability is questionable due to the hot and humid climate and that it harbours privacy concerns.
The Ministry of Electronics & IT in a response said the report in question neither cites primary nor secondary data nor research in support of the opinions presented in it.
The investor service did not make any attempt to ascertain facts regarding the issues raised by it from the Authority. The sole reference cited in the report is in respect of the UIDAI, by referring to its website.
However, the report incorrectly cites the number of Aadhaars issued as 1.2 billion, although the website prominently gives the updated numbers, it added.
The report avers that use of biometric technologies results in service denials for manual laborers in India’s hot, humid climate, an obvious reference to India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). It also said there are security and privacy vulnerabilities in a centralised Aadhaar system.
The government said it is evident that the authors of the report are unaware that the seeding of Aadhaar in the MGNREGS database has been done without requiring the worker to authenticate using their biometrics, and that even payment to workers under the scheme is made by directly crediting money in their account and does not require the worker to authenticate using their biometrics.
Biometric submission is also possible through contactless means like face authentication and iris authentication. In addition, the option of mobile OTP is also available in many use cases, it added.
On the security aspect, the government said the Parliament has been categorically informed that to date no breach has been reported from the Aadhaar database. Further, Parliament has laid down robust privacy protections in the law governing the Aadhaar system and these are observed through robust technological and organisational arrangements.
State-of-the-art security solutions are in place, along with a federated database and encryption of data both at rest and in motion, it added.
Reflecting the international acceptance of Aadhaar, the government said Aadhaar is the foundational Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) of the India stack. The recent G20 New Delhi Declaration has welcomed the G20 Framework for Systems of Digital Public Infrastructure, a voluntary and suggested framework for the development, deployment, and governance of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI), and welcomed India’s plan to build and maintain a Global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository (GDPIR), a virtual repository of DPI, voluntarily shared by G20 members and beyond.
International agencies, including the IMF and World Bank, have lauded the role of Aadhaar. Several nations have also been engaged with the Authority to understand how they may deploy similar digital ID systems.