The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) claims that it has issued 103 crore Aadhaar numbers to Indian residents and almost 97% of them are adults. On the other hand, Ujjivan Financial Services, one of the most prominent names in microfinance segment, says just 77% of its customers have Aadhaar as on 15 July 2016. This is interesting. Because, Aadhaar came into existence under the garb of providing identification to those poor people who do not have any kind of ID. Since Ujjivan operates in microfinance segment, most of its customers are supposed to have the Aadhaar numbers if we consider the claims from UIDAI. But that is not the case.
We would presume that 100% of Ujjivan’s customers should have Aadhaar. They are borrowers who need to clear know your customer (KYC) norms. And all finance companies and banks have been waxing eloquent how Aadhaar has made life so easy for them. So, how come as high as 23% Ujjivan customers do not have the Aadhaar? Or is it possible that the claims by UIDAI are overhyped?
Quite possible. Especially, if one were to look at the history of UIDAI and how it goofs up with numbers and figures. For example, UIDAI conducted a proof of the concept trial of the Aadhaar project between March and June 2010 neglecting the basic principle of pilot testing and size of sample. For over 120 crore UID numbers, they have used data from just 20,000 people, in pairs, as the sample and have on the basis of these results, went ahead with the UID number through the 'Aadhaar' project.
On the false positive identification rate (FPIR), the authority had said, "We will look at the point where the FPIR (i.e. the possibility that a person is mistaken to be a different person) is 0.0025%". This means, for every 1 lakh comparisons, there would be two and a half false positives. On a large scale, it means for a population of over 120 crore, there would be 18 lakh crore false positives! (Read
: How UIDAI goofed up pilot test results to press forward with UID scheme
Coming back to Aadhaar, last week united opposition members disrupted proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, while protesting against making the UID number mandatory for availing government benefits like subsidised LPG, PDS supplies and pensions. Ram Gopal Yadav from the Samajwadi Party (SP) said the Centre has issued instructions to state governments to stop ration card benefits, pensions and subsidised LPG to those not having Aadhaar. As much as 40% of the population do not have an Aadhaar card and the move will hit the poor hard, he said (emphasis added).
Dilip Tirkey of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) told the upper house that 20% of the population in Odisha do not have Aadhaar number and the instruction from the Centre will only create problems for the poor (emphasis added).
The biggest shocker came from Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who said that 85% of the population have got Aadhaar, and the penetration can be pushed only with the effort of the state government. The question is how many citizens have actually received an Aadhaar number? It is 96.7% as claimed by UIDAI, or 85% as stated by the Minister? Or much lower, as charged by the Parliamentarians?
As if the white elephant of Aadhaar was not enough, the claims and counter claims are making it a story of an elephant and four blind persons with everyone giving their own numbers.
Meanwhile, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in a report tabled in the Parliament on 2 August 2016, had said that UIDAI had granted undue favour to Wipro Ltd in a maintenance contract worth Rs4.92 crore. "The UIDAI, in contravention of the provisions of the contract, extended undue favour to the vendor (Wipro) and incurred an avoidable expenditure of Rs4.92 crore on annual maintenance contract of the equipment for a period covered under warranty/free maintenance," the CAG report stated.
"The UIDAI did not route its advertisements through the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity in accordance with the advertisement policy of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This led to loss of Rs1.41 crore as the eligible discount was not availed," the report added.
Wipro, however, has disagreed with the findings of CAG. "We disagree with the findings of the (CAG) report that UIDAI extended undue favour to us. We draw attention to the latter's response in the report that the acceptance of goods was given by the competent authority in UIDAI after commissioning the equipment," the software company said in a statement.
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