New Delhi: Batting strongly for Aadhaar cards, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan today sought greater clarity on
the apex court ruling on the matter, saying its usage can help a deserving person get credit, avoid overborrowing by individuals and plug leakages.
“We need greater clarity on the matter, especially after the recent Supreme Court ruling which says having Aadhaar card is not mandatory for availing of benefits,” Rajan said, stressing that the apex court is not intending to stand in the way of voluntary usage of the cards.
Citing the experience in the US, Rajan said “we need to learn from experiences like the usage of the Social Security Number, which is continuing to be used without raising any concerns on privacy”.
“Given how far Nandan’s UIDAI has taken us towards a universal unique ID for India, it would be sad if its use was restricted,” he said while delivering the fourth C K Prahalad memorial lecture here.
In 2009, the government created the Unique Identification Authority of India under Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, which used citizens’ data for creating unique Aadhaar numbers.
The Aadhaar numbers have now become central to a slew of government initiatives, including direct subsidy transfers and the financial inclusion plan.
Stating that part of the credit for creation of UIDAI can be attributed to a letter recommending such a system written by celebrated academic Prahalad and himself, Rajan said it has a host of advantages like plugging duplication of beneficiaries, avoiding overborrowing and helping a person avail of credit.
He said that without Aadhaar, some lenders can lend more to a single borrower by just misrepresenting the name and address, which “can be easily stopped”.
“A unique ID can enable a variety of economically valuable activities that particularly benefit C K Prahalad’s Bottom of Pyramid. I firmly believe that C K Prahalad would want us to find a way to move forward with unique IDs,” he said.
In the August 11 ruling, Supreme Court had said an Aadhaar card will not be mandatory for availing of benefits of welfare schemes of the government and had also barred authorities
from sharing personal biometric data collected for enrolment under the scheme.
It had also referred to a Constitution bench a series of petitions challenging the Centre’s ambitious scheme to provide Aadhaar cards to all citizens and decide whether right to
privacy is a fundamental right.
Rajan today clarified that the Supreme Court’s pronouncements do not restrict the voluntary usage of Aadhaar and added that more clarity is needed on the matter to make the scheme more successful.
“Right now, I think the hesitancy is with the uncertainty based on SC ruling. We are trying to get more clarity. I don’t think the SC intended to stand in the way of voluntary usage of UIDs. But let us clarify and see how we can use it in some very important initiatives of protecting the poor,” he said.
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