Millions need an answer – Where Aadhaar will head now?

The UPA government which was at the centre last time started MNREGA scheme aiming to provide 100 days of employment guarantee to needy people especially in the rural regions. Implementation of the scheme nationwide saw some fruitful results for UPA in the 2009/10 Lok Sabh Elections and enabled them to form UPA-2 for five more years at the centre. UPA’ second consecutive position at the centre is primarily attributed to the MNREGA scheme which helped needy voters to get 100 days of job through this program. The project for providing unique identity to every citizen of the country was also started by the government in 2009 under the regulation of UIDAI headed by Nandan Nilekani.

Perhaps the government did not realize the way UID project (later named as Aadhaar) has to go and the project started on a slow note. The project however gain popularity later on especially in southern states like Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra and by then the government decided to take that seriously and spread its wide across the country. The years 2011 and 2012 witnessed huge rise in people’ participation in this project and by late 2012 the central government announced that it will make Aadhaar useful for many other schemes and services besides serving only the address and ID proof purpose. Pilot projects also started to run for few schemes in different small regions of the country and government announced that it will use Aadhaar based platform for Direct Cash Transfer (later named as Direct Benefit Transfer) scheme and targeted New Year day as the date for beginning of this scheme in 20 different districts of the country. The DBT scheme was in operation but with glitches and government always voted to expand the sphere of the scheme throughout the country. The major episode was to provide LPG cylinder subsidy through the DBT scheme and the deadline date was extended many times before its actual implementation. Government also announced that it will cover 289 districts by January 2014 under the DBT-LPG subsidy scheme. The scheme has always been targeted and criticized by critics and other bodies because of its functioning and lack of infrastructure. The prime motive which has been drawn from all this process is that government is eyeing to form UPA-3 by using such big project.

With Supreme Court ruling that Aadhaar is not mandatory for availing government services and is optional to enroll, the government has surely been struck by a setback as at this time the Aadhaar and Aadhaar based schemes are also struck in the mid-way of their long expected journey. However, government has always been saying that enrollment for Aadhaar is not mandatory, making it compulsory for availing schemes surely raises confusing questions on the government.

The most common and essential question which now has arisen is that where the Aadhaar will head now and what about Aadhaar dependent schemes especially the proposed DBT-LPG subsidy scheme. The government now has two options to follow to answer this question. The first is to pass a bill which is already lying in the parliament and continue with the Aadhaar operation at the current speed and remove all the hindrances of the mid-way. The second option is to remove the mandatory tag from availing various schemes which have already been put on by few state governments and few central government sponsored schemes. While the first one is more time consuming and will need debate with the opposition at the parliament, the later one will only result in insincerity of the government. This will also raise questions on their policies and planning which they will never like to face just before the upcoming General Elections.

Millions of people of the country need an urgent answer on this from their government as they are the one who will be most affected by the response of the government. With less than a year to spare for the next elections, government at the centre will not want to be in any kind of trouble and their stance now will be the most awaited and anticipated part in the present time.

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