Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Still confused about getting Aadhaar? It's time to get into the act

Are you still wondering whether you can make do without Aadhaar? You may soon need the 12-digit individual identification number for many more services, the unceasing debate over making it compulsory notwithstanding. 

Directors of companies, small businesses and non-governmental organisations seekingregistration and even individuals wishing to open demat accounts for market trading, or a simple bank account for that matter, may be asked to furnish Aadhaar, officials said. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues Aadhaar, recently identified 20 additional areas where the number can be mandated in the future, they said. 

As per the Supreme Court's directions last year, only six schemes are covered by Aadhaar at present. However, with Parliament passing the Aadhaar Act earlier this year, the UIDAI has identified more areas where the identification number can be mandated as per the law. 

The government will have to take a considered call on this, given that as many as 15 petitions against making Aadhaar compulsory are pending in the apex court, officials said. 

"No service will be denied for lack of Aadhaar," a senior government official said on condition of anonymity. 

"Any person left out will be immediately enrolled. Aadhaar saturation levels among adults will hit 100% by next month," the official said. About 98% of India's adults have already been issued unique identification numbers. 

UIDAI's move comes after the Prime Minister's Office fixed a target of September 2016 for all adults in the country to be given Aadhaar and of March 2017 for covering all 128 crore Indians. 

ET reported on August 21 that the PMO has already directed that five child-specific schemes including Mid-Day Meal, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Integrated Child Development Services be now linked with Aadhaar. 

Individuals seeking a SIM card or a landline connection may soon be asked to provide Aadhaar, under the areas identified by the UIDAI, which could also propose that property registration, vehicle registration, voter registration and land records be linked with the unique identification number. 

The list goes on to include student enrolment in schools and colleges, and examinations conducted by the UPSC and Staff Selection Commission, where candidates may be asked to furnish Aadhaar for registration. 

Aadhaar may be required for applying for a passport or for opening an account with the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation, as for subscribing to life, health and accidental insurance schemes, filing of income tax returns or applying for a Permanent Account Number. 

The government may link crop insurance scheme with Aadhaar, besides making the number mandatory for persons seeking to enrol as a Bank Mitra for disbursing Direct Benefit Transfer benefits to people and registration of small businesses under the Udyog Aadhaar project. 

ET had earlier reported that the Centre had transferred all states except Assam and Meghalaya to UIDAI from the Registrar General of India for Aadhaar enrolment. As part of a new strategy, the UIDAI is running an 'Aadhaar Challenge' scheme in states, seeking out adults who do not have Aadhaar and offering to enrol them immediately. 

Only 1.9 crore adults remain outside the enrolment net, as per the UIDAI. However, nearly 21.5 crore children below 18 years of age are still to get Aadhaar, prompting the PMO to order that enrolment be made part of five child-specific schemes and children be enrolled in schools and anganwadis twice in 2016-17 - in October this year and in March next year - and in the hospitals soon after birth. 

Officials said the PMO has asked the departments overseeing the schemes to "own the enrolment work" of children and "get on-boarded as registrars" for the UIDAI, along with their state counterparts, to carry out the enrolment work of children at a fast pace. 

The women and child development ministry implements Integrated Child Development Services and Integrated Child Protection Schemes while the Department of School Education of the human resource development ministry oversees Mid-Day Meal scheme and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. 

Among the existing schemes allowed to be disbursed using Aadhaar, 78% of all LPG connections, 61% of ration cards and 69% of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) cards are now linked with unique identification numbers of the subscribers, as per the UIDAI. Besides, 30 crore people have linked their personal bank accounts with Aadhaar.

Source:-The Economic Times

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