Public Administration Mains 2018 : Model Question and Answer - 80
(Public Administration Paper I / Chapter: Accountability and Control)
(Current Based) Question: Aadhaar-based welfare delivery systems neither improved targeted welfare nor facilitated more inclusive system ? Comment. (25 Marks/350Words)
The Supreme Court passed interim order, extending the deadline for mandatory linking of Aadhaar numbers to various services, including bank accounts and mobiles, till the disposal of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar. Unfortunately, the order provides little relief to those who need it the most.
The order does not apply to the deadline for subsidies and benefits given by the government. In effect, the March 31 deadline still holds for accessing several crucial welfare services, including the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, the Mid-day Meal Scheme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, among others, many of which are a citizen’s legal right.
Failing to provide relief to the most vulnerable citizens of the country, the poor and marginalised, for whom access to these welfare services is a crucial lifeline, the order is ultimately a disappointment.
Aadhaar, in other words, continues to remain mandatory in places where it has caused the most grave disruptions. There is growing evidence that exclusion due to authentication errors and deactivation have led to death, starvation, denial of medical services, and public benefits such as rations and pensions.
Moreover, while the need for Aadhaar is defended in terms of the improvements it will bring to government efficiencies in delivery of welfare services, there is little evidence in the years since implementation to back the claim. Perhaps the most bizarre part of these deliberation is the seeming disregard for the growing body of evidence that demonstrates that biometric systems can fairly easily be faked.
Many of the petitions pending in the Supreme Court contend that Aadhaar is in violation of the right to privacy, particularly in the absence of a data protection framework. While in strong support of these arguments by petitioners, the question of exclusion of the most vulnerable is an equally grave and urgent issue.
If the Supreme Court is yet to decide on the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, there is little legitimate justification for excluding essential government services from these deliberations. (Total Words- 331)
Valuable inputs from The Indian Express Opinion : ‘SC ruling on Aadhaar is a relief for some, but not for those who need it the most’ by Urvashi Aneja
(Linkages: Aadhaar and Welfare Delivery System, Aadhaar and Targeted Welfare, Aadhaar and Inclusive Growth)