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Aadhaar is not entitlement but 'pure identity': DeitY Secretary R S Sharma

Team Inclusion

Aadhaar provides citizens with an identity, but it should not be confused with entitlements, Secretary of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) Ram Sewak Sharma said at Skoch Summit here.

Speaking at the first day of the two-day 39th Skoch Summit organised by the Skoch Group, Sharma, who was Director General of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that issues the Aadhaar number, said it’s the technology that makes Aadhaar unique.

The uniqueness lies in the precision of authentication of a person’s identity. “Before we introduced Aadhaar, a lot of energy was being spent in establishing a person’s identity at multiple layers. That resulted in an obvious overlapping and even duplication of identities. But in one stroke, the biometric technology embedded in Aadhaar has eliminated those things,” he stressed.

Sharma said identity and eligibility are two different issues. Since its rollout, Aadhaar has become the trusted third party authenticator of eligibility. “In no way we mean that having an Aadhaar number will automatically give you eligibility,” he said.

His comments apparently comes against the background of the Supreme Court’s warnings to state governments against making Aadhaar mandatory in direct benefit transfer programmes of the government.

Thanks to the adoption of technologies, he said, India is on the cusp of a huge transformation. The government’s Digital India is the biggest manifestation of the development and modernisation leap the country is poised to take. There is a lot of stress on huge convergence of ideas where open standards of technologies.

“A digitally empowered India means taking software to enable the people. Such an initiative would make technologies conveniently available and drive down costs. There is a great deal of economic opportunities at the bottom of the pyramid. If technologies can drive down costs and enhances the last mile delivery of government services and spurs entrepreneurship, the whole India will be transformed,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Ari Sarker, Division Head - South Asia, MasterCard Worldwide, said creating a cashless society is a huge challenge in India. “In India, 95 per cent is cash economy. But innovation that thrives in an open environment and lowering of barriers in the participation of the economy could foster competitiveness and fairplay. So, how can we bring more and more services to the market,” he noted.

(Comments are welcome at info@skoch.in)

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