Chapter Seventy-Eight: Deadlines, Deadliness and Aadhaar

This edition of TypeRight looks into some recent updates on the Aadhaar push for welfare benefits and how the deadlines turn deadly.

In yet another update on the linking of PAN Card and Aadhaar, the government pushes a notification extending the deadline beyond the end of the month.

In another update to a previous chapter of TypeRight, where we talked about how Aadhaar was linked to payment for NREGA workers, the government has provided some relief. However, this is temporary, and the NREGA workers' movement continues in the capital as this article is written.

Despite the last-minute news of a deadline push, the last intimation to majority of the population was through messages received by the government on cellphones, mandating a linking of Aadhaar and PAN before the end of the month. As a result, this author writes how she saw several people queuing up to get their IDs linked, and even pay the hefty Rs 1000 late fines. This is even more concerning as most of these people do not fall into a tax bracket for paying income taxes- but still had to pay the fine anyway.

Several states, including Delhi, Haryana, have portals for linking your Aadhaar with your power connection - but it was Tamil Nadu which took it a step further, saying a consumer cannot pay their bills if they don't do the linking. This would mean a violation of basic rights like electricity, much like how the PDS linking has violated a basic right to food, and the Voter ID link would violate basic democratic rights.

While the Voter ID linking has an extension, there is no news yet regarding the pension payments:

This is in direct conflict with the Supreme Court's judgements on Aadhaar and Privacy, which clearly stated how no deserving person should be denied the benefit of a scheme on failure of authentication of Aadhaar. As digital rights activist Srinivas reminds us:

And Prof Reetika Khera, of IIT Delhi mentions how the voluntariness of Aadhaar would slowly turn into meaning compulsory - “We have seen in scheme after scheme that ‘voluntary’ Aadhaar-linking ended up reducing the number of beneficiaries as the government claimed that those who didn’t link it were either ‘ghosts’, when in fact they were very much alive. In the same way, I fear that voters names may get struck off the electoral list if they don’t link their IDs with Aadhaar. Voters may only realise this when they go to vote, by which time it will be too late.”

But how safe is the data in the Aadhaar? And how has the UIDAI, the authority behind the Aadhaar, been managing to ensure us its safety?

Below is a report from the Times of India on how fraud biometric transactions took place in Delhi, as was flagged by the Delhi police to the authority:


And this is a directive from Telangana police advising users to be wary of fraud transactions:

In the following article, Srinivas Kodali writes in detail on how enforcing the Aadhaar can be detrimental to the cybersecurity plans of 'Digital India'.

As an ending note, we would like to remind our readers that the NREGA workers' movement against the Aadhaar-based payment is still going on in Jantar Mantar, Delhi, and requires support from every corner.

It is also a reminder that the new Payment system was enforced upon the poorest communities without proper testing -

- and anyone who questions is being detained and repressed by the state:

To quote Jean Dreze, the economist and professor who was detained along with students for the talk in Delhi University on NREGA rights, "Workers are being used as guinea pigs for a technology that isn't mature."

In other news

Here is a detailed report by Article14 on the plight and precarity of the Indian gig-worker, and their struggles.

Rajasthan becomes the first state to enact an RTH (Right to Health) Act- but it has seen resistance from private doctors and associations like the IMA.

If you've been doing google searches, you would have realised how the search engine now provides multiple languages (although sometimes incorrectly too).

A recent survey found out how tech savvy the young are, with respect to a task like attaching a file to an email - basically painting a picture on the levels of digital literacy among the new generation.

Our previous chapter on the global digital compact highlighted among other things, the need to prevent internet shutdowns- this article points out how we also don't have the tools to assess the impact of the shutdowns.

And finally, a recently updated Global Happiness Index for 2023 shows India ranking the one of the worst in Asia, and level lower than Ukraine and neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

DEF Updates

From the Computer Lab in Mumbai's Gully Classes Foundation, co-supported by DEF.

From DEF's Aadhaar correction camp in Gopalpur, a remote tea garden village in West Bengal. Over 500 people benefitted in getting their Aadhaar from the camp.

Team Smartpur's training camp in Alwar, on digital rights and duties.

And two updates from DEF's Digital Didi program, and our SoochnaPreneur initiative:

Until next week!

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TypeRight - The Digital Nukkad

TypeRight - The Digital Nukkad, is a weekly conversational bulletin curated through the news and discussions on social media as well as what's happening on the ground. Through the eyes and ears of Digital Empowerment Foundation across rural India and global south, TypeRight aspires to focus on bringing the contextual relevance of digital technologies and developments on the society - both connected and unconnected.