Aadhaar – Is the PM’s grand design destined to fail?

Posted: May 29, 2012 in Aadhaar Card
Tags: , , , ,

It’s been over a month since I penned my last post. Been so busy with personal and professional work that I never found the time to write something here. And then nothing really caught my interest, until now…

I remember seeing an episode of Yes Prime Minister titled ‘Hacker’s Grand Design’ where prime minister Jim Hacker invites his rather eccentric defence advisor who suggests scrapping the nuclear missile plan and enlist in conventional forces.

Hacker can already visualise himself as the messiah who gives jobs to everyone and end the unemployment problem and refers to it as ‘Hacker’s Grand Design’. His Cabinet Secretary Humphrey Appleby is appalled because there’s money to be made under the table in buying missiles from the US and Hacker is unknowingly spiking the plan, while the Chief of Defence Staff is delighted because it means the Army gets larger – until he learns that Hacker intends to launch conscription or permanent military service for unemployed youth.

“You mean we’re going to have a million strong football hooligans on the streets of London?” is his comment. The very thought is painful and so he and Appleby get together to hatch a plan that sees the prime minister and his grand design self destruct!

Running along similar lines is Dr Manmohan Singh’s grand design of the unique identification data card (UID), popularly known as the Aadhaar card. More and more I wonder whether the prime minister plan of one identity card for all, which in effect is a pretty good idea (if he can pull it off) will ever be completed and then implemented.

I am pretty certain that this project isn’t going to be completed till 2014 by which time the country will go to the polls. And unless the UPA returns to power the UID will surely be dumped and so will Nandan Nilekani, who has been entrusted with the job of carrying this humongous task through And the way this government is stumbling from one disaster to another, their survival post- 2014 seems bleak. And since vested interests in the government are hell-bent on derailing the plan it I’m even more sceptical about its success.

We, as in the family, all have UID cards and were quite thrilled to get it sometime in March this year. After all, a card that Nilekani claimed would be the last word of my identity had to be something special.

The first look was disappointing, because I couldn’t figure out how anyone could carry around a card that was around six inches long in a wallet! Then I noticed a perforated line that advised me to ‘cut here’. That put my mind at ease. Once cut and laminated, it would be a snug fit in my wallet. Needless to say, I was delighted with my new acquisition.

My son got one too with a rider. In May he turned 15, it seems he would have to get a new one because it stated that after attaining the age of 15, the old card would have to be replaced. Couldn’t the department have made a rule that all minors whose birthdays fall within six months of making the card should wait till they’re 15 and then make a card? How much money and effort would the government and us have saved? I guess no one in babudom thought of that. Or probably they did and let it be. After all, every department needs to justify its budget!

Leaving aside all the quibbling I decided to find out how useful it was. Since we moved house in April I decided to get a new phone connection from one of the private service providers. Since BSNL didn’t have a cable a private service provider seemed to be the only option. Off I went to one, where I produced my Aadhaar card as ID proof. It was refused. The reason given was that they had not yet got an ‘official notification’ on whether they could accept it.

Then last week I went to an authorised agency that deals in documentation for issuance of PAN cards. Over there, I once again produced the Aadhaar card because I wanted to update my residence home address and phone details and was once again, snubbed. Here too I was told that they hadn’t “received any notification”.

According to the RBI Gazette the UID card can be used for opening bank accounts, LPG connections etc, and there is no ‘notification’ required to announce its usability, so why are some agencies making an issue of it?

I haven’t tried the other places yet, but more than the phone operator it’s the PAN Card guys that made me laugh. And I thought the Aadhaar card was going to replace the PAN! Or is that why they’re fighting it tooth and nail? It seems here too, PC has the upper hand on Nilekani!!

  1. Gurvinder Singh says:

    Dear Mohan,

    Loved this article. Informative, focussed and with just that little bit of humour.

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