Pray, Why Does My 87-Year-Old Anna Need an Aadhaar Card?

Why write about an Aadhaar Card? Because for a man in a wheelchair with no permanent address, it isn’t simple.

4 min read
Pray, Why Does My 87-Year-Old Anna Need an Aadhaar Card?

Nearly a year after I manage the complex task of transferring Anna’s CGHS card to Delhi, I (hopefully!) complete the process of getting Anna one more “proof of identity / residence” asked for by the Government of India – an Aadhaar Card.

Why is this something to write about when it is (or should be) a fairly simple task? Because, it isn’t. Specially if you are not able bodied, or haven’t lived at your current address for ages and ages.

First, why does Anna, who is 87 years old, need an Aadhaar Card? I truly don’t know.

So why am I getting him an Aadhaar card? Because last year the CMO at his CGHS wellness centre asked for his Aadhaar number.

Why does Anna, who is 87 years old, need an Aadhaar Card? (Photo Courtesy: Sangeeta Murthi Sahgal)

The Many Hassles of Getting Anna an Aadhaar Card

When the CMO was told that Anna did not have an Aadhaar number, the CMO suggested we get one and link Anna’s Aadhaar Number to his CGHS membership to avail of “enhanced CGHS benefits online”. What these benefits are, no one seems to know. But like any simple, law abiding Indian, I decided to get Anna an Aadhaar Card, finally proving to myself that I am a sucker for punishment!

Then came the job of applying for a unique identification number. Downloading the form was easy. It was the proof of address that added spice to the task. Anna lives in a rented flat leased in my name. All his utility bills are similarly in my name. His bank accounts etc., all have his Bangalore address.

So I did what any person does nowadays. I went online to search for a solution, and didn’t find any. Finally the branch manager of the bank, where Anna has his pension account, suggested that I change Anna’s mailing address to Delhi (without moving the account). We managed to do this by submitting letters and documents (including mine).

There was the task of finding an Aadhaar Centre that is car and wheelchair accessible. (Representative Image; Photo: iStock)
With that done, came the task of finding an Aadhaar Centre that is car and wheelchair accessible. Again, we searched the internet and found a list of centres – permanent and temporary. We then Google-mapped and called centres near our home and found that they’re all located in odd places. Some in small gallis where a car can’t fit, some at the head of narrow flights of stairs a couple of floors above ground, some that have shut down and the online list has not been updated.

We asked some of these places if they could send someone home to process Anna’s Aadhaar Card and each time we were told that Anna had to physically present himself at the centre!

Finally, I reach out on Facebook, and a former colleague told me to come to Noida to a centre run under the aegis of SETU, an NGO. We decide to cart Anna 20 km away to Nithari Village, Noida, in 41˚C heat.

We find the centre with ease. The operator is ready for us. Quickly Anna’s documents are submitted, details entered, retina scanned, and photograph taken. It takes multiple tries to scan Anna’s thumb prints and fingerprints. And as we wait for the operator to verify the clarity of Anna’s prints, we have this conversation:

Sangeeta Murthi Sahgal at a city mall with her father who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2008. (Photo Courtesy: Sangeeta Murthi Sahgal).

Anna’s Humour Brightens the Day

Anna: How many body parts do they need to put into the computer to know that I exist!

Me (confused and amused by “body parts into a computer!”): Anna, they only need your retina scan and finger prints in addition to your photo.

Anna (smiling to hide a chuckle): Now, I can’t commit a crime. Like rob a house.

We all laugh. Including the operator.

Me: Anna, even if you rob a house, with your speed of walking, the cops will catch you. They don’t need your fingerprints.

Anna’s smile broadens.

Anna (thinking of the recent Gaya road rage case): They will catch me near the scene of the robbery even if it is 56 hours after the crime!

With your slow shuffle, they will dad. They sure will.

We now wait for the Aadhaar Card to come by post.

I continue to research the “benefits and increased quality of services” as a result of linking an Aadhaar Card to CGHS membership.


(After working in corporate India for over 29 years, Sangeeta has taken time off to look after her father, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2008. Sangeeta hopes that these authentic stories will help patients and caregivers understand and appreciate the impact of Parkinson’s Disease. You can follow Sangeeta’s blog here.)

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