With around 210 million Aadhaar, or unique identification numbers having been generated so far, the enormous promise the project holds is slowly being realised.
Take, for instance, West Tripura district in remote, north eastern Tripura where pension payments are being made on the basis of Aadhaar. The programme itself has been implemented with extraordinary speed in the state - around three million of its total population of 3.6 million already have Aadhaar numbers. "We don't pay any cash inTripura, everyone has a bank account," says Kiran Gitte, district magistrate, West Tripura district. "And WIMAX connectivity, linking the payment gateway of the banks with the national payment corporation of India, enables us to make payments very quickly." Despite Tripura's location, pension beneficiaries are serviced at the same pace as in a bank in Mumbai or Delhi.
210 mn aadhaar numbers have been generated so far
Or go to East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, 1600 km from Tripura's capital Agartala, where those entitled get their public distribution system (PDS) food grain through Aadhaar. They are identified at PDS outlets by a biometric verification of their Aadhaar numbers, which drastically reduced fraud. "Authentication takes about one second," says A. Babu, Joint Collector of the district. "The machine used is even programmed to speak in Telugu to help those who are not literate. We are saving 20 per cent on rice, 15 per cent on sugar, 15 per cent on palm oil, 30 per cent on kerosene thanks to Aadhaar." The district has also integrated the PDS with beneficiaries' mobile numbers and informs them as soon as stocks arrive at the outlets.
Delhi too is following in their footsteps. Through its Annashree Yojana, the Delhi government will disburse Rs 600 every month to beneficiary families, instead of providing subsidised food grain as before. The money will be deposited in the account of the senior-most woman in these households, with the Aadhaar number used as a means of authentication. "It is proved that there are leakages even in cash transfer schemes," says Santosh Vaidya, Director, Mission Convergence, a Delhi government initiative to converge all welfare benefits. "To ensure that we have every aspect covered, we have linked the scheme to Aadhaar." Nearly 2.1 million Delhi families are expected to have an Aadhaar number by March next year. There is a silent revolution afoot, which well take extraorinary new turns.Shweta Punj