Aadhaar was touted as a weapon against corruption when the idea was first mooted. It was intended to plug leaks in the system thereby ensuring that benefits went directly to the beneficiaries.
But today, it has transmogrified into an instrument of oppression unleashed against all Indian citizens irrespective of whether they are corrupt or not. The incessant and insidious demand to link Aadhaar cards with PAN cards, bank accounts, mobile numbers and now even insurance policies threatens our right to privacy and seems designed to allow government control over all aspects of our lives. This is a very dangerous development with far-reaching repercussions that most Indians as yet seem to be unaware of.
Every day people are being harangued by messages to link their Aadhaar cards with their mobile numbers and bank accounts. The tone of these messages is threatening and one can imagine the tension many people, especially senior citizens, are being put to, despite the fact that they have done nothing wrong. It should have been sufficient to link Aadhaar cards with PAN cards if the idea was to check corruption. But demands to link them with bank accounts and mobile numbers are unreasonable and makes one suspect the government’s motives. Why should all Indians be treated as if they are hoarders of black money and terrorists? Such measures seem typical of totalitarian governments which seek to have their people under their thumb.In this digital age, data is power and Aadhaar is nothing but centrally controlled data mining. Aadhaar gives the government unilateral access to our data. Needless to say this gives it great power over us, power which can be misused if we fall foul of it at any time. Is it desirable to surrender so much power to the government? Simply put, Aadhaar is like a genie which has been released from its bottle. There is no saying what havoc it’s capable of unleashing.
Just like demonetization and GST went haywire causing untold suffering to ordinary and non-corrupt Indians, who lost their savings (and some their lives as well), Aadhar too seems to have overreached its purported objectives. The first two initiatives seem to have failed ? all the black money has returned to banks and terrorism is still unabated. These after all were the main objectives of demonetization.
The cashless narrative came only later when the government realised that the operation had failed. As for GST, everyone now agrees that there is nothing ‘good’ or ‘simple’ about it. A flat 10 per cent tax with perhaps some exemptions for certain categories and a simplified process would have ensured better tax compliance. Worse, both measures have crushed the entrepreneurial spirit of the nation. It rang the death knell for many small and medium businesses which provided a decent livelihood for many Indians who could not find jobs. This is a terrible tragedy.
The latest demand to link all insurance policies with Aadhaar is outrageous. It seems like a ploy to deny or delay giving people their insurance payouts. Or maybe it’s just another attempt to browbeat the public. In everything it does, the government seems to favour only the interests of big companies and corporations, and not those of the ordinary citizen. One thing is very clear ? the Central government does not trust the citizens of India. In its eyes we are all corrupt and dishonest. The question is ? how can we trust someone who does not trust us? Should we continue to sign away all rights to our identity, privacy and whatever else makes us unique to an entity that can take them away from us in one second?