Eight Stories That Ask – Are We Really Ready for Aadhaar, India?
The Aadhaar system has a number of glaring loopholes, with the UIDAI database within the easy reach of hackers, and user data being accessible by almost anyone, with little time, money, and effort.
However, like demonetisation and the ‘Digital India’ movement, which were both very ambitious, the bigger question is this: Is the world’s largest biometric database safe? And does it serve its purpose effectively?
These are some of the most unusual instances of Aadhaar misuse, irregularities, or failure to provide the same essential services it set out to, that raise the question, “Are we really ready for Aadhaar, India?”
1. Maid Denied Safe Abortion Without Aadhaar, Resorts to Illegal Abortion
In January 2018, DNA news reported an instance where a 28-year-old pregnant housemaid from Chandigarh was refused an Ultra Sonography by a government doctor, because she didn’t have an Aadhaar, according to a paper published in the British Medical Journal.
The 28-year-old woman, weighing at 45 kilos and already a mother of three, was refused an oral abortion drug without an ultrasonography due to the non-availability of an Aadhaar card.
She was later forced to go to a quack and due to a botched up abortion procedure, she was hospitalised and had to undergo blood transfusion.
2. 10-Year-Old Dalit Girl Loses Scholarship Because Aadhaar Spells Name Wrong
On 16 January 2018, the People’s Archive of Rural India reported the story of 10-year-old Indu, a Dalit student from Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, who lost her scholarship because of a spelling error in her Aadhaar. SC/ST/OBC students in Andhra Pradesh are entitled to a government scholarship of Rs 1,200 per year.
However, Indu’s name was spelled wrong on her Aadhaar card as ‘Hindu,’ and she was told to rectify the error. However, despite her parents and school seeking a new card and re-registering their daughter’s information, her name was spelled ‘Hindu’ in the new Aadhaar as well. Her date of birth and photograph were updated though.
3. No Network At Ration Shop, Biometrics Machine Hung from Tree to Get Network
Twitter handle @HumansofAadhaar shared a video from a ration shop in Delhi that copes with connectivity issues by hanging the biometric reader machine at a nearby tree, where it receives network.
In Delhi’s East Mehram Nagar, a ration shop falls in an area with little internet network. But Aadhaar officials have directed the ration shopkeeper to ensure the biometric machine works effectively. To resolve this issue, the biometrics machine is hanged from a nearby jamun tree to ensure people get their rations.
4. Woman’s Aadhaar Linked to Nine SIM Cards Without Her Knowledge
Twitter user @PRIYARD took to social media platform to express her shock and outrage regarding a peculiar matter. When she went to link her Aadhaar to her mobile phone number, she discovered that her Aadhaar had been linked to not one or two, but NINE SIM cards already. After the worried citizen took to social media to air her concern, the UIDAI’s response was a statement on Twitter – that at least she knows how many others had illegally linked their SIM cards to her Aadhaar.
In response to this story by The Quint, Bharti Airtel responded that the issue has since been resolved, and provided this clarification.
5. Man’s Bank Account Linked to Aadhaar Without Permission
Gaurav Pandhi, a Congress leader and former banker, complained that his bank account had been linked to his Aadhaar without his permission. In a Mumbai Mirror report, Pandhi said he received a message from ICICI bank’s Paschim Vihar branch in New Delhi on 15 January, which said his Aadhaar linking request had been received, and that it would be completed in a few days.
Decidedly upset, he took to Twitter to call out the unsolicited linking of his biometric data to his bank account.
6. Man Uses Fake Aadhaar to Lure and Assault Young Girls
In October 2015, The Hindu reported about a 33-year-old man who was arrested by the Hyderabad Police for luring and assaulting young girls under the pretext of being an education counsellor. The accused, Kalakanda Madhu, a former manager at the Food Corporation of India, purchased copies of strangers’ Aadhaar cards, and would get SIM cards issued by furnishing copies of strangers’ Aadhaar as proof of address and ID.
After his arrest, police said that he had access to over 5,000 young girls’ and would call them from different phone numbers he’d received by furnishing proof from strangers’ Aadhaar IDs.
7. Biometrics Machine Doesn't Read Fingerprints in Winter
In another instance reported by @HumansofAadhaar on 22 January 2018, a woman complained about how they had trouble getting their food and other rations, because the biometrics machine fails in the winter. When the skin on their fingertips cracks in the the cold season, the machine reportedly fails to accurately read their fingerprints. As a result, they’re denied access to their rations.
8. Woman Dies After Being Denied Treatment Without Aadhaar
A woman died in Sonipat, Haryana after reportedly being denied treatment for not having an Aadhaar card. The woman, Shakuntala – the wife of a Kargil martyr – was accompanied by her son to a private hospital on 28 December 2017, for treatment.
The hospital authorities reportedly insisted that her Aadhaar card be submitted for her to receive treatment.
The report adds that hospital authorities did not relent despite the patient's son Pawan Kumar showing the copy of the Aadhaar card, including the number, on his mobile phone.