Nandhakumar Saravana Bala Vidya Mandir HS 12th Grade
In this article, I want to talk about how a technology (AADHAAR) is revolutionizing things in India and making a difference in people lives.
India is the largest democracy in the world with a Population of 1.2 Billion. It has more than 22 recognized languages with countless dialects within each. It is the sixth largest economy in the world and there is a strong middle-class population of around 300 million people. It also has a rich cultural history with its civilization dating back to 5,000 Years.
After getting independence from the British (1947), the government was able to pull a lot of people out of poverty by investing in Health, Education & Physical Infrastructure, the rate of growth and achievement is too slow in International standards. It is also a challenge for the government to direct the benefits to the most deserving people given the lack of unique identification with socioeconomic status.
This is where AADHAAR (meaning ‘Foundation’ in India‘s Largely Spoken National Language Hindi) came as a Boon to the government. It is a 12 digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data. The data is collected and stored by Indian Government in a secure environment. Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric ID system, with over 1.171 billion enrolled members as of 15 Aug 2017. World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer described Aadhaar as “the most sophisticated ID program in [the] world”.
While in some ways, it is very similar to SSN in the US, it is much better given its biometric data and its uniqueness makes it a secure and faster way to identify an individual.
Aadhaar project has been linked to some public subsidy and unemployment benefit schemes like the domestic LPG scheme and MGNREGS. In these Direct Benefit Transfer schemes, the subsidy money is directly transferred to a bank account which is Aadhaar-linked.
Indian government is saving billions of dollars by using this technology, take for example LPG Scheme, government subsidize part of the cost given the high price of LPG in the international market (Indian Imports 80% of its need from abroad), before AADHAAR, corrupt officials in collusion with politician claim fake subscribers (also known as ghost) and claim subsidy money, they also take lot of time to transfer the subsidy receives from the government to the actual person as well. However, after the implementation of AADHAAR, not only the ghost subscribers are removed, the real beneficiary bank account is directly credited making things much faster. A conservative estimate revealed that the government saved close to a Billion Dollar on this one scheme alone.
Apart from this, the tax compliance in India is very poor with most of the people in India hide their income by opening multiple bank accounts (with different ids issued by state and Federal governments), this will be eliminated in the near future since the government made it mandatory to link all bank accounts along with Tax Identification number (also known as PAN Card) with an AADHAAR by Dec-2017 making it virtually impossible for its citizen to under-report their income - an increased revenue collection by the government would lead to more public spending towards Education, Health & Physical Infrastructure like Roads, Ports and Rail lines.
Obviously, any big initiative like this does not come with its negative impact on the society, one of the major concern is ‘Privacy’, given with AADHAAR government may able to track almost all information about an individual and the chances of being misused are quite high, then there is a chance of an enemy government breaking government server and taking all of its citizens data.
While these concerns are legitimate, the government is addressing these concerns by enacting the required legal provisions against the potential misuse and spending lot of money to store the data in the highly secured environment.
I strongly believe this technology enabled change would take India to the next stage and enable to realize its full potential towards economic and human development.
<Nandhakumar Saravana Bala Vidya Mandir HS 12th Grade