Aadhaar-related exclusion is low in percentage terms but affects many in absolute numbers — as many as 2 million in just three states of the country, a report has said. The 12-digit biometric ID, which aims for efficient, transparent and targeted delivery of subsidies, has led to exclusion of 2 million individuals from their PDS entitlements every month from the rural regions in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal, a report by global research firm IDinsight said.
Biometric authentication failures are often cited as a reason for exclusion. In Rajasthan, 1.2% of all Public Distribution System (PDS) beneficiaries face exclusion due to Aadhaar authentication failures. The reported also noted that the incidence of biometric authentication failure is much higher as revealed by UIDAI’s own data. Using Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act 2016, central and state governments have asked beneficiaries of 252 schemes to authenticate themselves using Aadhaar.
Even as there are exclusions, Aadhaar verified PDS system is gaining popularity in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan. “About 55.3% Andhra and 67.4% Rajasthan PDS beneficiaries say that the new system of PDS delivery using Aadhaar is better than the previous one without Aadhaar,” the report said.
What’s worrying is that non-Aadhaar reasons for exclusion tend to be significantly higher in general than Aadhaar. The report also conducted a household survey, in which 97% people said that privacy is important to them. In August last year, when the Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right, it opened doors for a slew of petitions challenging Aadhaar for infringement of privacy.
The respondents said in the survey said that it is important for them to know how their Aadhaar information is used by the government. Despite the privacy concern, 87% respondents approved mandatory linking of Aadhaar with various services. A total of 2,947 households were surveyed by IDinsight.
Earlier this year, a report by Chandigarh-based Tribune said that some of the Aadhaar details were up for sale for just Rs 500. Even as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) rejected the claims of the data breach, a lot of questions were raised on data protection by government authorities and private players involved in it, including during Aadhaar hearing in the apex court.