Recently, we have seen deaths of Santoshi Kumari & Ruplal Marandi and many more due to hunger has become a victim of Government 100% Aadhaar experiment on central schemes like PDS, MGNREGA & Pensions system.
We have similarly seen a starvation deaths in 2002 in Rajasthan but since then Govt has took several positive moves and it led to improvement in Public Distribution system (PDS) & it also helps to recognize a vulnerability of Sahariyas in Baran – a tribal community.
Central government has been insisting on 100% Aadhaar “seeding” across schemes such as the PDS, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and pensions. Seeding refers to the practice of entering Aadhaar numbers for each household member on the ration card. It is a pre-requisite for the Aadhaar-based Biometric Authentication (ABBA) system.
Reality of 100% Aadhaar in Central Schemes is :-
In achieving 100% Aadhaar, Govt has cut names of those who were not able to submit their Aadhaar details & it leads to PDS which does not allow them to get rations & these deaths were victim of the importance of Aadhaar.
Why people do not engage in Seeding ?
- Unawareness of the seeding requirement
- Some of them who did, they had seeded it wrongly.
- Others still had tried repeatedly and failed.
What is ABBA & what does it need ?
- Aadhaar based Biometric Authentication system
- The ABBA requires that family members be enrolled for Aadhaar and correct seeding.
- At the time of purchase, the ABBA requires power supply, a functional PoS machine, mobile and Internet connectivity, State and Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) servers to be ‘up’, and for fingerprint authentication to be successful.
- The Finance Ministry’s latest Economic Survey, based on micro-studies, reports high biometric failure rates.
- In Rajasthan, government data for the past year show that around 70% of cardholders are able to use the system successfully but rest of them have tripped by ABBA system.
- In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the ABBA’s failure rates are between 8 and 14%.
ABBA cannot tackle corruption because
- Quantity fraud is the practice of cheating on quantities sold. Neither seeding nor the ABBA can stop quantity fraud. In a survey in Jharkhand, dealers continue to swindle people by cutting up to a kg of their grain entitlement despite successful ABBA authentication.
- Identity fraud, for example in the form of duplicate ration cards, only requires Aadhaar-seeding – the ABBA is unnecessary. In Aadhaar’s rulebook for example, an elderly person asking a neighbour to fetch their grain would count as identity fraud. In fact, it is flexibility that is lost when the ABBA is made mandatory.
What needs to be done ?
The ABBA must be withdrawn immediately from the PDS and pensions in favour of alternative technologies such as smart cards. This will allow us to keep the offline PoS machines with smart cards and throw out the Internet dependence and biometric authentication.
Conclusion :- If the government continues to insist on the ABBA, it will actively trying to sabotage the PDS, which, quite literally, is a lifeline for the poor.