Home Stories

Aadhaar Card Dilemma: Who is Aadhaar Really Serving?

Aadhaar Card Dilemma | Once heralded as a beacon of inclusion, the Aadhaar Card scheme now stands accused of becoming a tool of exclusion. Numerous vulnerable individuals find themselves barred from crucial government schemes due to Aadhaar discrepancies.

By Saksham Agrawal
New Update

Aadhaar Card Dilemma | When the Indian government launched the Aadhaar project in 2009, its vision was clear: to provide a single, unified identification for every Indian, particularly targeting those from marginalised communities without any official IDs. It was seen as a revolutionary step towards financial inclusion. 

However, years down the line, what was conceived as a tool for inclusivity has, for many, become an instrument of exclusion. From being denied rations to missing out on essential government schemes, a significant section of the population finds themselves grappling with administrative roadblocks, often stemming from issues with their Aadhaar cards.

Read More: Did the Government Exercise Restraint in its Disclosures Regarding the PMGKAY scheme?

Sanja's 25-Year Wait for Rations: A Testament to Systemic Failures

We spoke with Sanja, a resident of Delhi, who has encountered issues with her Aadhaar card, preventing her from receiving her ration.

Sanja, a resident from a Below Poverty Line (BPL) household, speaks about her prolonged struggle, “It's been 25 years, and we've never received our entitled rations even once. I thought after the Aadhaar card was introduced, I will benefit from it but this has only increased my problems."

When probed further about the issues she faced, Sanja lamented the recurrent problems with her Aadhaar details. “The address is incorrect on the Aadhaar, which is why we are continuously overlooked. We tried changing the address on our Aadhaar card twice but it didn’t work."

Similar stories resonate with many others. Sheela, another distressed citizen, has been unable to obtain her ration card for years. She claims that authorities have denied her a ration card due to discrepancies in her Aadhaar card.

Read More: Dire State of Delhi’s Sewage Treatment Plants Raises Alarming Concerns

The Aadhaar Dilemma: Unintended Consequences and Everyday Struggles

India's ambition of a unified identity through Aadhaar, despite its noble intention, seems to be plagued by administrative bottlenecks. Citizens from all walks of life share harrowing tales of being sidelined due to technical glitches, clerical errors, or simple bureaucracy. Despite the Supreme Court's 2013 directive that no citizen should be deprived of services due to the lack of Aadhaar, many find themselves in a quagmire.

Sridevi's situation underscores a lesser-known side of Aadhaar complications. Despite her son's name being correctly mentioned on the Aadhaar card, the absence of his surname has impeded their access to governmental educational aid. "While the first name on the Aadhaar card is accurate, we want to include 'Kumar' as the surname, making it 'Nikhil Kumar'," she elaborated. Despite numerous efforts and trips to the post office, Sridevi found her pleas met with indifference and repeated denial.

Kamla Devi's Ten-year Ration Card Ordeal

Aadhaar card dilemma | Kamla Devi
Kamla Devi, another resident from Delhi’s Kusumpur Pahari speaks to The Probe about her Aadhaar ordeals. | Photo courtesy: The Probe

Kamla Devi's story stands as a testament to the persistent problems faced by the average citizen. An incorrect address on her Aadhaar card set off a chain of events that led to a decade-long struggle for a ration card. "I have lived in Kusumpur Pahari my entire life but never received ration," she revealed. Even after multiple form submissions, Kamla Devi's attempts to correct the error in her Aadhaar card proved futile.

The ripple effects of Aadhaar-related issues extend beyond just government schemes and services. Many others, like Raj Chauhan, grapple with the implications of not having a valid Aadhaar card in the employment sector. "I can't even get a job. They ask for the Aadhaar card and PAN card everywhere. Without it, how can I proceed? I now work as a daily wage labourer," lamented Raj. 

Aadhaar Card's Unintended Pitfalls: The Tug-of-War between Inclusion and Exclusion

Despite Aadhaar’s noble intentions to ensure a unified identification system for all Indians, its journey has been riddled with challenges, particularly for those from marginalised communities. The project's underlying complexities have inadvertently exposed citizens to the perils of a vast administrative machinery.

Researcher Apurva Gupta from LibTech India recounts a heart-wrenching incident from Jharkhand. "A person actually died of hunger. Yet, government officials claimed the portal indicated that he had already withdrawn his ration when he had not. He did not even have a ration card. So, this is a larger issue. The problem is not just with Aadhaar. This is a pattern of continued neglect of the vulnerable and exclusion from government schemes," Gupta said.

"Aadhar was brought in to make processes easier. Yet, our current approach has led to rightful exclusions while overly focusing on wrongful inclusions. Aadhaar’s mandatory imposition, without a robust infrastructure in place, inevitably leads to the exclusion of deserving beneficiaries," Gupta stated. 

Despite our efforts to seek clarity, our attempts to engage the UIDAI authorities with a comprehensive set of questions about Aadhaar were met with silence. As the debate around Aadhaar grows, it's crucial for those in authority to make sure the voices of the most vulnerable don't get drowned in bureaucratic noise. The pressing question remains: If the vulnerable aren't being heard, who is Aadhaar truly serving?

To ACCESS and SUPPORT our exclusive stories and impactful public interest journalism, subscribe to our YouTube channel. Click on THE PROBE'S LOGO below to subscribe.