The recent announcement by the Human Resource Development Ministry to link Aadhaar card with various government programmes has caused much ire among activists working on legal entitlements. Such activists working with different organisations came together here on Tuesday on the eve of Women’s day and slammed the government for making Aadhaar card compulsory for availing several schemes which apply directly to women and children.
The case against Aadhaar is pending in the Supreme Court at the moment, and legal experts believe that making it mandatory for anything in the mean time is illegal. Usha Ramanathan, an independent legal researcher, said, “To make Aadhaar mandatory as of now is completely illegal. “
"What we are seeing today is rampant and shameless illegality by the state. The Aadhaar inverts the idea of transparency. It makes people transparent but the state opaque. The Aadhaar has become about finding new ways to deny people their entitlements rather than making sure people actually receive entitlements. We are at a point when there are 50 per cent of children who are malnutritioned and now we are saying that they will not get food because they do not have an Aadhaar card," she added.
The Statesman also spoke to those who have been denied entitlements as they do not have an Aadhaar cards.
Gita from Laal Gumbad, Delhi, said her husband, eldest daughter and she had Aadhaar numbers while her other three children did not. She said "I gave birth certificates of 3 of my children who did not have Aadhaar. But they said Aadhaar is mandatory, then I got their Aadhaar cards made but when I went again they told me that now the quota is over and I cannot get rations."
Amrita Johri of Satark Nagrik Sangathan explained, "Aadhaar relies on internet and electricity. This might seem like a problem only of rural areas. But we don't have to go far. In South Delhi in East Mehraam Nagar there is a ration shop with no signal, no network. Officials said we have to show that Aadhaar is a success. Finally in this South Delhi ration shop the POS ( Public Distribution System) machine was hung on a jamun tree so it could work."
She asked "When there are so many failures, why is there no acknowledgment of this by the government?"
Anjali Bhardwaj, of Satark Nagrik Sangathan, said, "Official data of the Delhi Government shows there is 0% failure rate of biometric authentication using Aadhaar. Despite the fact that on the ground we have found people whose biometrics never match with the machine. Those with biometric failures are shown as not coming to collect rations. Those who are shown as not coming to collect rations are shown as bogus, cards are cancelled and these are declared as savings.
“The Prime Minister said in the Lok Sabha in February 2017 that 4 crore ration cards were found bogus through use of Aadhaar in PDS. However, there is no information in the public domain about the details of these so-called bogus cards and the basis for declaring them bogus,“ she said.
Magsaysay Award winner Bezwada Wilson of the Safai Karamchari Andolan said, "It is a problem for identity ~ identity of vulnerable communities. We (manual scavengers) want to bury our identity but society doesn't allow us. Aadhaar is a stigma upon us forever. Aadhaar is an obstacle it makes our identity forever. "