Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, the CEO of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), was the center of attention at the Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America’s (BJANA) first ever “BJANA Talk Show” held in Freehold, New Jersey on Friday, February 9.
Since UIDAI is the main agency of the Government of India which is responsible for implementing Aadhaar, the talk show focused on questions about Aadhaar, the complexity of maintaining privacy and implementation, and how it will reach to 1.2 billion Indians.
The talk show was attended by over dozens of BJANA members and streamlined live on Facebook. Vinay Singh, the president of BJANA, introduced Pandey giving a brief background of his education and success with Aadhaar.
The Facebook live was broadcasted to over 1,000 viewers who actively participated by sending their questions in for Pandey. In the past, Pandey has addressed the questions and concerns of Indian Americans about banking in India, property inheritance without Aadhaar and handling financial and investment accounts.
Today, Aadhaar is the most trusted ID and widely held unique identification system in India which has the facility of authentication online and offline anytime, anywhere. Aadhaar has empowered 1.19 billion Indians with a credible identity.
Nowadays, the fact is that Aadhaar inspires more confidence and trust between person-to-person and person-to-system than any other identity document in India. Almost every sixth person in the world holds an Aadhaar card.
Aadhaar—the 12 digit unique identification number—has tremendous potential to bring revolutionary transformation as it empowers people in myriad ways so that a sense of enhanced security and trust prevails in the life of people at large.
And all this is possible because of Aadhaar, its technology, its platform, its authentication infrastructure and its use as the verifiable identity. Aadhaar has enabled one-sixth population on this planet to prove irrepudiably that s/he is the one whom s/he claims to be and has brought in digital revolution in the life of every Indian.
True to its transformational potentials of cleansing the system of fakes, ghost and duplicates, Aadhaar has turned into a game changer in favour of poor. It has not only been able to create secure and safe environs where people can trust a person with his verifiable ID but has also been an instrument to curb black money, money-laundering, check on benami dealing and banking frauds, improved tax compliance, enhanced transparency in the system, hassle-free deliveries of service, ease of life and business, etc.
However, Aadhaar is often under attack from various quarters mainly on the misconceived grounds of surveillance or Orwellian design that may significantly alter the relationship between the state and the citizen, ill perceived data “breach” or leakages, so-called exclusions and denials, privacy invasion, etc. Let me dispel with due respect to the critics, some of the misperceptions.
At the onset, it is pertinent to know Social Security Number (SSN) story as to how one of the developed democracies United States of America introduced unique identification numbers to cleanse their system through an enactment in 1935 for a limited purpose of providing social security benefits during the Great Depression. Later, in 1942, it expanded the scope through an executive order which mandated all federal agencies to exclusively use SSN in their programs. In 1962, SSN was adopted as official Tax Identification Number (TIN) for income tax purposes. Further in 1976, Social Security Act was further amended to say that any State may, in the administration of any tax, general public assistance, driver’s license, or motor vehicle registration law utilize SSN for the purpose of establishing the identification of individuals and may require any individual to furnish SSN.