New Delhi: The Unique Identification, or Aadhaar project, was started to solve the problem of not having a common identification system through which a person could prove his identity with certainty. The Strategy Overview of the UID project, published in 2010, clearly states the objective of the project: “In India, an inability to prove identity is one of the biggest barriers preventing the poor from accessing benefits and subsidies. Public as well as private sector agencies across the country typically require proof of identity before providing individuals with services.”
There are two ways in which a resident can enrol oneself in Aadhaar. The first is by producing two existing valid IDs, and the second, specifically for people unable to produce such IDs, is by the ‘introducer system’, through an introducer appointed by the Registrar. It now turns out that almost all the Aadhaar numbers issued till date – 99.97 per cent – have been issued to people who already had at least two existing identification documents.
In a response to an RTI application by Ujjainee Sharma and Trishna Senapaty, the Unique Identification Authority of India has revealed that of the 83.5 crore Aadhaar numbers issued so far, a minuscule 2.19 lakh resident have been given numbers based on the introduction by the introducer system. That amounts to a mere 0.03 per cent of all Aadhaar numbers issued. The UIDAI however, did not have data for the overall number of people who had applied through the introducer system.
How many people in India have no ID at all is hard to guess, say the RTI applicants in a press release, adding: “If the number is large, as it may well be, then Aadhaar is doing little to solve the problem. And if the number is small, then what was the basis of the claim that ‘an inability to prove identity is one of the biggest barriers preventing the poor from accessing benefits and subsidies’?”