10 Answers To *All* Your Queries About The Confusing Aadhaar Card

10 Answers To *All* Your Queries About The Confusing Aadhaar Card

Last year, I was in a panic when it was announced that for domestic flights, we’ll need to show our Aadhaar Card. I took a day off, found an Aadhaar centre in a long forgotten neighbourhood of Gurgaon and got the formalities done. A month later, I found out that there was a problem in the server and my Aadhaar was never recognised. Then, I took another leave and redid the process. I have taken many flights (domestic and international) and no one has asked about my Aadhaar yet.

To this date, I am reluctant to give my details to PayTM or the bank because I’m scared of it getting misused, no matter what the government says about “thick walls.” And same is the sentiment around me.  

So today, I am investigating the elusive rules around the Aadhaar Card and trying to come to a decision. Follow me and you’ll get your answers, too.

01 Aadhaar Card

What is Aadhaar Card?

Aadhaar is actually a 12-digit identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India to the citizens of India as a proof of their identity. It carries a person’s biometric and demographic information and can be used as an identification document. It does not, however, replace your PAN card, driving license or passport.  

How can you get one?

You can locate an Aadhaar enrolment centre close to you on the official UIDAI website. Take a proof of identification (voter card, passport, driving licence) and a proof of address (ration card, passport, bank passbook, water bill) with you to the centre, fill the form, give your fingerprints and get a photo clicked. You will get an enrolment ID after this and your Aadhaar will be sent to your postal address in 90 days. You can track its status on the website and print it from there, too. Please remember that the process is FREE of cost.

Why does the government want us to have one more official document?

Aadhaar is the largest biometric identification programme in the world. On papers, it serves multiple purposes. The Aadhaar can be your digital identity (with fingerprints and photo) that has less chances of being stolen and misused. It can be used for government subsidies and public distribution system; the government wanted to use it to trace the welfare benefits and confirm that they’re reaching those who need them the most without any leakage.

However, it hasn’t happened as planned. The poor have been majorly hit - the rations are not reaching them because they don’t have this document. In fact, an 11-year-old girl died of hunger in Jharkhand last year because her family’s ration card was cancelled as it wasn’t linked to an Aadhaar. Some hadn’t been able to give their fingerprints and were unable to get Aadhaar cards. Many have recorded mistakes in names and addresses and they’re unable to prove their identity.

Is not getting an Aadhaar card an option?

It is not mandatory yet, so you can choose not to get it made.

When and where exactly do you need it?

  • To open a new bank account.

  • To file your taxes.

  • To apply for Tatkal passports.

  • To avail government subsidies and welfare benefits (LPG, Mid-Day Meal, and Direct Benefit Transfer).

Where don’t you need it?

Supreme Court has extended the deadline to link your Aadhaar till there is a final judgment on the matter. So if you haven’t linked your bank account to your Aadhaar yet, fret not, your account won’t be frozen. Same goes for your mobile phone. For existing insurance policies, the date has been extended too, but you’d need to link your Aadhaar within six months if you’re buying a new one.

What’s the security breach everyone is talking about?

There have been multiple reports by newspapers and agencies that the UIDAI Aadhaar data can be stolen and misused. The claims are that your Aadhaar card details and the information that you’ve linked to the Aadhaar can be accessed by private players or leaked to them. The security breach is a cause of concern and the Supreme Court is also looking into it.

Another argument people are making is that Aadhaar is violating our Right to Privacy since our information is being shared with private parties and we’re all under government surveillance. Additionally, the chances of identity theft are high. For you and I, it may mean a fraudulent transaction or misuse of a service (opening an account, getting a loan, misusing a SIM card); for someone else, it may mean losing their ration or subsidy.

If something as harmless as a mobile number is shared with a private agency, you are bombarded with calls and messages asking you to buy something. Our digital footprint is already used by Google and Facebook to show ads and record our browser history. With Aadhaar, everything you do may be documented (mobile, insurance, bank account, subsidy schemes and travels), so any leak (from UIDAI or third-party websites) can be disastrous.

What’s the government saying?

The UIDAI has maintained since the beginning that the Aadhaar information is completely intact. No security breach has been reported in its biometric database and all claims by newspapers and experts have been made refuted by the government.

Besides, the UIDAI stressed upon the fact that Aadhaar is just like any other id; it is not confidential. “By simply knowing someone's Aadhaar, no one can impersonate and harm him because Aadhaar alone is not sufficient, it requires biometrics to authenticate one's Identity,” they confirmed.

How can you protect yourself?

Fraudulent callers are coaxing people to give their Aadhaar number and OTP on the phone. Once given, these can be used to make transactions. It is imperative that you never share these details with anyone over the phone. If you want to link your Aadhaar with your bank, visit your brand or ATM or use the banking app.

In addition, you can go to the website and see where all you have used Aadhaar authentication.

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