Aadhaar: The number that makes a nation ‘Niradhaar’

Is UIDAI’s Aadhaar, the same thing that it claims to be? Here is a simple analysis of the UID project from Dr Anupam Saraph, who designed and implemented identity schemes for government and private organisations

"In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar Card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant."

-Supreme Court Order in WP 494 of 2012 on September 23rd 2013


How safe is the UID?


1. Enrolment agencies, sub-registrars, registrars and UIDAI have no legal liability for any theft, fraud, crime, and compromise of your security or privacy that may be perpetuated through Aadhaar

2. The use of Aadhaar by various agencies will now expose all your IDs, information, properties, entitlements etc. to misuse in one go thus exposing you to unprecedented risk

3. You have neither control on who uses your Aadhaar nor any way to know or verify its use by anyone

4. Your entire data and biometric is handled by non-Indian companies


How safe is your money in the banking system with UID?


1. Banks have been directed to open accounts with Aadhaar numbers instantaneously—they can no longer verify if the number links to real and unique individuals

2. Money transfers from Aadhaar accounts will not be audited if there is less than Rs10 lakh transferred in a year. This means subsidy, bribes and black money may go to shell accounts that may never be traced!

3. Money can be moved from Aadhaar-to-Aadhaar electronically without your knowledge


How protected are your entitlements and rights with UID?


1. Aadhaar does not guarantee anything. It merely becomes yet another obstacle in obtaining services from the government

2. If your biometric verification fails, you will lose all benefits across the government till you re-establish your credentials. Re-establishing credentials may be at the mercy of netas and babus


How legal is the UID?


1. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Aadhaar card has rejected the Aadhaar exercise. There is no legal sanction or budgetary sanction

2. The Planning Commission has no mandate for such projects

3. The Executive order is bad law under the constitution as it violates fundamental right

4. Under the Citizenship Rules of 2003 it is the Registrar General of India who has to maintain a National Register of Indian Citizens and issue National ID cards


Some fallacious UID Premises


1. Each UID number corresponds to a unique real person

2. Each person can have only one UID

3. All issued UID numbers are genuine

4. No identity theft is possible with the UID

5. Existing identity databases are full of fraud and duplication

6. UID database made by the same agencies/documents has no fraud or duplication

7. Identity is the barrier to service

8. Cash transfer is more effective than the service it was meant to subsidize or deliver

9. Cash transfers will reach real beneficiary

10. Several trillion Rupees can be transferred directly without any scam

11. Financial inclusion is about having a bank account

12. 18,950 rural branches can service 593,731 villages or 31 villages to a branch or 40,000 persons per rural branch through UID

13. 38,592 branches can service 5,161 cities and towns or 7,500 persons per urban branch through UID

14. Corruption in India is because the common man fakes identity

15. UID will simplify the processes to access fundamental rights, entitlements and services


Additional References

1.     http://uidai.gov.in

2.     http://planningcommission.nic.in/sectors/index.php?sectors=dbt

3.     http://bargad.org/2012/03/17/budgetary-allocation-for-uid/

4.     http://openspace.org.in/UIDaadhaar

5.     http://www.aadhararticles.blogspot.in

6.     http://saynotoaadhaar.blogspot.in

7.     http://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/BS_ViewMasterCirculardetails.aspx

8.     http://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/BS_CircularIndexDisplay.aspx

9.     http://www.rbi.org.in/scripts/NotificationUser.aspx

10.  http://identityproject.lse.ac.uk

11.  http://www.aclu.org/technology-and-liberty/5-problems-national-id-cards


(Dr Anupam Saraph holds a PhD in designing sustainable systems from the faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, the Netherlands. Dr Saraph has held CxO and ministerial level positions and served as an independent director on the boards of Public and Private Sector companies and NGOs. As a Professor of Systems, Governance and Decision Sciences, Environmental Systems and Business he mentors students and teaches systems, information systems, environmental systems and sustainable development at universities in Europe, Asia and the Americas.)

Priyanshu Yadav
5 years ago
thanks for sharing this useful information with us.
udyog aadhar
Sudhir Jatar
1 decade ago
Another aspect has come up. I understand that the subsidy that is credited to the account is taxable. Hence, 20 to 30 % tax will be deducted, which would come to about Rs. 630 to Rs. 930 per year, depending on your tax bracket!
Sudhir Jatar
1 decade ago
In today's Marathi news paper, "Sakal", there is a letter to the Editor that direct bank transfer of subsidy portion is actually punishing the poor and is meant to benefit the rich. Here's how!
It is difficult for a 'poor' person to shell out Rs. 1000/- at one go for a cylinder and then wait (indefinitely?) for the subsidy to be credited to his or her account. The problem becomes acute if the cylinder comes at the end of the month because most are living a hand-to-mouth existence.
This is a very valid point, which has not been brought out so far.
Ramani Venkatraman
1 decade ago
It is a stupid idea to link subsidy payments to accounts linked with the Aadhaar numbers..in all likelihood, it will lead to a scam of huge proportions. And why should the common man be made to run around to avail the subsidy which is part of what the Govt decides as legitimate to him.. more corruption in the offing with this facility. It fails anyone's comprehension as to what was wrong with the way subsidies were paid all these days..has this been only to accommodate scamsters who would innovate the way to pump money out of government coffers?
Replied to Ramani Venkatraman comment 1 decade ago
Current systems involve issuance of subsidy by either cash or cheque via some Govt office where cash is to be distributed. In cases like LPG they are directly paid to the distributor.

Problem with cash/cheque subsidies given currently is, unless you give some "babu" a cut of it, he will make sure you won't get it.

For subsidies like LPG, people buying it at subsidised rates and selling in black or using it for commercial purposes are the problems.

These things can be drastically improved if Govt transfers various subsidies directly to the recipient.

True, there can be loopholes in this, but it is still far better than the current systems.
1 decade ago
Mr Saraph - your article on Aadhar is good, but may I suggest that the section on fallatious claims of UID should each have an explanation for each of the statements. It would make the matter clear to many people.
1 decade ago
Biometric uniqueness could be a misnomer. That doesn't necessarily make UID useless.

At any point of time non-matching bimetries outnumber matching ones by orders of magnitudes.

In other words, while biometry may not be enough to prove 2 persons identical, on great many occasions it proves two persons to be non identical.

Let us leave the uniqueness debate to theoreticians. I like to look at UID as an extension of the PAN notion. True, there could be implementation issues, which does not make the basic idea flawed.
Mandar Mukund Diwakar
1 decade ago
very apt title to the article. Aadhar is actually making people Niradhar. i would like to give you a live example. My father received a SMS stating that his Aadhar no (actually a wrong one, not his) has been linked to his HP LPG consumer no (again a wrong one). The whole UID initiative should be scrapped. Very unfortunate that a person like Nandan Nilekani chaired this project and created a complete mess of it.
Ramesh Iyer
1 decade ago
Thanks Dr. Saraph for sharing all critical information, including myths about this dubious project of the UPA govt. From the very beginning, the Project had no legal or statutory approval, yet the govt is believed to have spent over Rs. 50,000 crores on it already. Wish the SC had intervened earlier to save this precious public money.

Anyway, now that the SC has ruled that Aadhar is not mandatory to avail of govt welfare services, it's better NOT TO enrol for it, until things become more transparent. I believe this entire Aadhar project is someday going to be exposed in a mega-scam, much larter than the 2G spectrum one.
Ajay Chaudhary
1 decade ago
Aadhar is illegal and unconstitutional.. For those who have any doubts please read the excellent, must read article.. you may feel enlightened...


Jain Thomas
Replied to Ajay Chaudhary comment 1 decade ago
The above article lacks indepth study. It is assuming the third party is using and misusing the common people's identity. The biometric data collected by the the third party send directly to the UIDAI SERVER which is located in Bangalore. The server room can survive the heavy bombing. Actually Indians are the enemy of Indians. The adhaar project is a good move and it will empower Indians to run before the world. I am afraid that the Indian people been misguided and used by the hoarders and burglars. It will definitely remove the fake and duplicate identities, so we can save crores of rupees. The people those who are aginst this project is in the side of loosers (I mean they might be loosing money). If Yaswant Sinha wants to get an American visa, he needs to submit his biometrics to American embassy. In our context everyday Every single person giving their identity to unreliable persons for services in day to day life. But through adhaar KYC the service provider deals with adhaar server which is heavily encrypted and it gives only yes or no answer and never share the biometric data.
Replied to Jain Thomas comment 1 decade ago
You are spot on, dude. Moneylife and most of its contributors have only one mission in life: anything the government does must be trashed. Where did this man, who claims to be an expert, get the idea that all identity will be compromised. How? The identity is based on biometric authentication. I think such diabolical writings need to be exposed
Mumbai One
Replied to Iconoclast comment 1 decade ago
Hey Iconoplast...try providing answers to the two simple questions I asked (I mean if Nandan has enlightened you guys only).


Does Professor John Daugman, for example, agree with UIDAI when they say that “… although [the false positive identification rate of 0.057%] is expected to grow as the database size increases, it is not expected to exceed manageable values even at full enrolment of 120 crores”? It seems unlikely—Professor Daugman is the man who first pointed out that any attempt to prove uniqueness in a large population of biometrics must drown in a sea of false positives, please see

And does Professor Jim Wayman, for example, agree with UIDAI when they say that “… based on the [receiver operating characteristic] model, the UIDAI expects the accuracy of the system to remain within the same order of magnitude as reported above. Hence it can be stated that system will be able to scale to handle the entire population without significant drop in accuracy”? It seems unlikely—Professor Wayman is the lead author of a paper which concludes that biometrics is a discipline out of statistical control, the results gathered so far tell you nothing about what to expect in future, please see
Three scholars who have provided the academic foundation for the biometrics industry, particularly in the Western world, say that the level of uncertainty in biometrics is so great that tests prove nothing.

The academicians have, in a paper titled "Fundamental issues in biometric performance testing: A modern statistical and philosophical framework for uncertainty assessment", argued that the level of uncertainty in biometrics is so great that they cannot be used to predict how well the technology will perform in the real world and therefore this cannot support a valid argument for investment in biometrics.

The academicians are James L Wayman from San José State University, Antonio Possolo, head of the statistical engineering division at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Anthony J Mansfield from UK National Physical Laboratory, all recognised as stalwarts of the biometrics industry.

However, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which has embarked on a tagging programme that is based on biometrics, is silent on the report. The institution has, till now, been quick to associate with other academic groups.

While UIDAI claims that biometrics will allow it to deliver a unique identification, it has goofed up its own test results while pushing its ambitious Aadhaar project. (Read, 'How UIDAI goofed up pilot test results to press forward with UID scheme'.) For more READ (if you can, I mean) http://www.moneylife.in/article/world-re...
Mumbai One
Replied to Jain Thomas comment 1 decade ago
Just two simple questions.
1. How many contractors, sub-contractors collect and share American embassy data?
2. Are you willing to take responsibility for the data loss/theft of any individual? (FYI...UIDAI is not ready, so pls pls pls take the responsibility)
Adc.Rishi Bhujade
1 decade ago
Aadhar is nothing but the conapiracy of Government against the people of India...pls dont aatach aadhar no. to any of your bank account...
Adc.Rishi Bhujade
1 decade ago
Aadhar is nothing but the conapiracy of Government against the people of India...pls dont aatach aadhar no. to any of your bank account...
Sudhir Jatar
1 decade ago
I am afraid the people should scrutinise the Aadhaar order carefully and study Justice Puttaswamy's PIL petition. There are a number of other aspects. Apart from undermining the very basis of democratic functioning by the creation and use of an ID for electoral registration that is not a proof of citizenship, the Aadhaar number seeks to violate the citizen’s right to life and liberty by linking it not only to subsidies but also to rights and entitlements e.g. marriage registration, property documents registration, salaries etc. Further, in so doing, the government is creating a vertical divide as those who choose not to be part of the system will be the modern-day equivalents of outcasts only to be left out and left behind. And the worst hypocrisy is that when the scheme commenced, Aadhaar Enrolment / Correction form started with the following statement, "Aadhaar enrolment is free & voluntary..." This morning when I downloaded the form from UIDAI website, this particular statement is missing! To open an Aadhaar-related bank account, the usual need for physical presence is done away with so is KYC. Banks have thus refused to bear any liability for frauds related to Aadhaar accounts. Further, India has less than 32,000 rural banks and almost 600,000 villages while this entire scheme is based on direct bank transfers. Recently, newspapers have reported rampant corruption in the VVVIP constituencies of the royal family in Rai Bareilly and Amethi ranging from Rs. 20 to Rs. 50 per Aadhaar enrolment form. DBT has failed in these two constituencies. What would be the fate of the ordinary constituencies where the rest of the population resides? There is no doubt that the real intention of pursuing Aadhaar is not direct transfers to the poor but some thing related to the recent ordnance sent to the President but squashed by the Crown Prince.
Replied to Sudhir Jatar comment 1 decade ago
On the face of it, the idea to have a unique identity seems good.

Not an exact anology, but imagine life without PAN today... PAN is a good example of how the IDs help.

Now Adhar is much more complex, expensive, uses biometry, has privacy and security issues etc. and arguably has a lot more other flaws.

These flaws should be brought up, debated and resolved.

If your articles debate the premise separately and the implementation flaws separately, they will be much more balanced.
Sudhir Jatar
Replied to Mayuresh comment 1 decade ago
Precisely. Why do you want an additional number when you have so many other identity documents and spend hundreds of thousands of crores?
Aadhaar number can ensure money in your bank account and that Aadhaar number is not secure and your bank account is opened on the basis of an insecure number and the RBI has said that Banks will not take any liability in case of fraud due to an insecure number. Will you feel comfortable especially when that number also has all your bio-metrics as well as your personal data? World-wide losses of identity cards can go up to 20 %. If you are dependent on one number for all your entitlements including registering of property documents and even your marriage, imagine the havoc it will create!
And isn't your privacy compromised?

We have written to the Cabinet Secretary giving an exhaustive analysis in July 2013. We haven't had even an acknowledgement. We shall now use the RTI Act to get government's point of view.
1 decade ago
This is shocking.

But wouldn't it be prudent if you do a couple of more things:

1. Explain "fallacious UID Premises". Why do you think them to be so.

2. Conduct an interview with Nandan Nilekani and let the nation hear his views on above points.
Sudhir Jatar
Replied to Mayuresh comment 1 decade ago
You have raised points, which bother the aam aadmi. I have studied the references at the end of the article and find that the doubts do get resolved. Justice Puttaswamy's petition in the Supreme Court read with the Supreme Court judgment also throw light on our doubts.
If you are one-to-one with Nilekani, please advise him to talk to us. He was invited for a panel discussion at Pune. He refused.
1 decade ago
This is shocking.

But wouldn't it be prudent if you do a couple of more things:

1. Explain "fallacious UID Premises". Why do you think them to be so.

2. Conduct an interview with Nandan Nilekani and let the nation hear his views on above points.
Free Helpline
Legal Credit