Centre for Internet & Society

As much as eight per cent of Aadhaar data collected in Andhra Pradesh has errors, mostly related to name, address and date of birth, which is more than the errors in the voter ID database. But still, 87% of rural residents approve mandatory linking of the unique ID with various schemes and services.

The article by U Sudhakar Reddy was published in the Times of India on May 18, 2018.

This was revealed in the State of Aadhaar report 2017-18 based on a survey carried out in three states — Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal. The survey revealed that a majority of people in AP and Rajasthan preferred Aadhaar-based PDS delivery as they believed biometric authentication prevents identity fraud. On the flip side, at least 3 lakh people, which is 0.8% of PDS beneficiaries, were denied ration benefits due to Aadhaar issues, it found.

The survey found that among the three states, it was easiest to enrol for Aadhaar in AP. As many was 67% of people used Aadhaar as proof for opening bank accounts and 17% used it for Know Your Customer (KYC) verification. The survey also found that 96% of respondents valued privacy and wanted to know what the government will do with their data.

“The survey covered 2,947 rural households in 21 districts across the three states from Nov 2017 and Feb 2018,” the report by IDinsight, a development analytics firm, said. “Compared to voter IDs, the error-rate in Aadhaar was 1.5 times higher. While exclusion from PDS due to Aadhaar-related factors is significant, it is lower than exclusion explained by factors unrelated to Aadhaar,” said Ronald Abraham of IDinsight.

Reacting to the findings, Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of UIDAI, said: “The report highlights that Aadhaar has wide-scale support from people. Exclusion from PDS is due to failure of the local administration and should be taken very seriously.”

But critics found fault with the survey methodology. “If IDinsight asked respondents whether they preferred the UK system where you can get a SIM card without KYC or the Indian system with mandatory biometric authentication, then 100% of respondents would have opted for the UK approach. They have got an endorsement for use of biometrics due to their disingenuous survey design,” said Sunil Abraham, executive director, Centre for Internet and Society.

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