Public Administration Mains 2018 : Model Question and Answer - 62
Public Administration Mains 2018 : Model Question and Answer
(Public Administration Paper II / Chapter: Significant Issues in Administration)
Question: Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA) is relentlessly pushed
by the Central government, without attention to the disastrous consequences.
Comment*. (20 Marks/250 Words)
Model Answer :
Event in Jharkhand shed light on the damage done by compulsory biometric authentication in the Public Distribution System (PDS). In Jharkhand, ABBA was first made compulsory for PDS users in Ranchi. But making ABBA compulsory for PDS users creates two more serious hurdles for them.
(1) ABBA requires Aadhaar seeding. This means that PDS users must not only have an Aadhaar number, but also get this number correctly linked to their ration card. Seeding often creates inconsistencies between databases — in this case, between the ration-cards database and the Aadhaar database. For instance, names may be spelt differently in the two databases.
(2) The second hurdle is monthly biometric authentication at the ration shop. Meanwhile, a new form of corruption has emerged. Whenever biometric authentication fails for some PDS users, the dealers have some leftover grain (mainly rice, in Jharkhand) at the end of the month. Predictably enough, the leftovers are routinely siphoned off.
In Jharkhand, ABBA has not reduced the power of PDS dealers, which is the real root of corruption. On the contrary, it has increased people’s dependence on the local dealer, because it is the dealer who knows the rules of Aadhaar seeding and biometric authentication.
In response to the public outcry that followed recent starvation deaths in Jharkhand, the Central government has directed state governments to ensure that those for whom ABBA does not work are able to buy their PDS rations using an “exemption register”.
This, however, is just a band-aid solution. If further tragedies are to be avoided, the Central government should stop insisting on ABBA and let the states use more appropriate technologies for last-mile monitoring. (Total Words- 272)
Valuable inputs from The Indian Express Column titled ‘Aadhaar or else’ by Jean Dreze
(Linkages: Aadhaar and PDS, Aadhaar Seeding and Biometric Authentication, Aadhaar and Corruption)