ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Force-feeding Aadhaar

The lines between the welfare state and the surveillance state are fast blurring.

Placing conditions on access to food entitlements is not a marker of a welfare state. The recent notification by the government mandating the possession of an Aadhaar number for receiving benefits under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme has created a justifiable furore. Such a step is extraordinary given that the havoc caused by the introduction of mandatory Aadhaar authentication in some states for the public distribution system (PDS) has not yet died down. Reports from Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and other states describe the exclusion of genuine beneficiaries because of problems with the Aadhaar records and authentication issues, besides technological and infrastructural failures. This experience ought to have taught the government that the mere adoption of “technology” is not a panacea for corruption and inefficiency in the delivery of services, but is a sure way of excluding those who are socio-economically the most vulnerable.

Yet, in the last few weeks, several ministries have issued notifications that will co-opt over 30 schemes on to the Aadhaar bandwagon, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Employees’ Provident Fund, pension and scholarship schemes, and recently even the compensation provided to the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas leak. The aim is to make Aadhaar mandatory for all 84 schemes covered by the direct benefit transfer programme.

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Updated On : 28th Aug, 2017

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