April,27,2016: NEW DELHI: The Aadhaar card has emerged as probably the world's largest biometric identification programmes in the world with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issuing nearly 82 crore cards.
Available data shows that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) biometric database is way behind with 15 crore and with more Indians expected to register for Aadhaar, it could emerge as the largest programme of its kind globally.
Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of enrolments with 10.48 crore cards while Maharashtra had 9.19 crore and West Bengal 6.12 crore up to April 20
Data showed that the UIDAI has issued 81.78 crore cards, covering nearly 67% of the population.
The unique ID card programme, which was on the brink of being abandoned after the NDA government was swept to power in May last year, has been pursued vigorously by the Modi administration as it pushed to tackle unwieldy subsidies and roll out its massive Jan Dhan financial inclusion drive.
The government persisted with Aadhaar after the former chairman of UIDAI Nandan Nilekani detailed the benefits of the Aadhaar card to PM Narendra Modi.
The government is using it extensively in targeting cooking gas subsidies in the petroleum sector.
"It is a very scientific and useful instrument. Although, we have not made it mandatory for the Aadhaar card for claiming subsidies, our experience has been positive," petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan told TOI.
The government is leaning heavily on the JAM Number Trinity — Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and Mobile — to better target subsidies.
According to the Economic Survey, Aadhaar card enrolments were increasing at a rate of 2 crore per month. The government had seeded over 10 crore bank accounts with registered Aadhaar numbers by December 2014.
With the introduction of Jan Dhan Yojana, the number of bank accounts is expected to increase further and offering greater opportunities to target and transfer financial resources to the poor, says the survey.
"The big change that has taken place in the current environment is the Direct Benefit Transfer. Technology has made it simpler to transfer cash. Two other major changes have occurred in the past few years which make it possible for our country to use technology to manage expenditure. One is the availability of Aadhaar numbers, and mobile phones. These are great advantages to reduce administrative expenditure in the delivery of services to the people. Now, what we have to examine is where the subsidy is going? It has to be targeted in a way that the major part of subsidies is available to those who deserve it," Expenditure Reforms Commission chairman Bimal Jalan had told TOI in an interview.
Ashok Gulati, Infosys chair professor on agriculture at ICRIER said, "Aadhaar has been useful to create basic information in India. But to make it a game changer, it needs to be linked to Jan Dhan accounts while scaling up DBT." TOI