The Planning Commission has revealed that 10 crore Aadhaar numbers have been linked to bank accounts of said card holders so far as a part of the government’s Digital India mission. According to the agency, this will help it identify genuine beneficiaries and send government welfare subsidies directly into their bank accounts.
To link Aadhaar numbers to their bank accounts, citizens have to provide a copy of their Aadhaar card or e-Aadhaar to the bank branch where they hold an account. Once linked, it is used by the government to pay various subsidies like for LPG cylinders, MNREGA workers, PDS, scholarship and remittance etc.
Citizens with linked accounts will be able to access these subsidies even after moving to another part of the country or on change of account to another bank. As of now, 333 banks are on board with the Aadhaar linking scheme. The report also mentions that citizens can check the status of their Aadhaar bank account link by dialling *99*99# on mobiles, which will cost the user Rs 1.50 per enquiry.
The government also launched the ambitious Jan Dhan Yojana financial inclusion drive in August and Business Standard reports that 8.76 crore bank accounts have been opened under the scheme. Banks have been tasked to cover all the households before the end of December and seek public feedback to ascertain and open accounts for the leftover households. Banks on their part seem to be dependent on the Aadhar-linked direct benefit transfers to make the financial inclusion drive viable as suggested by this interview with B. Sriram, managing director at State Bank of India. Sriram had said that although there were a number of accounts being opened in the scheme, the average balance in basic savings accounts has dropped to Rs 400-300 from Rs 700-600, hence pushing up the costs of maintaining them.
Last month, the Indian Government had launched an Aadhaar-based digital life certificate called Jeevan Pramaan for pensioners. The new system, being developed by the Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY), consists of a software application which enables recording the pensioner’s Aadhaar number and biometric details from a mobile device or computer via a biometric reading device, to help establish that the pensioner was alive at the time of authentication, without them having to be physically present.
Interestingly, the Women and Child Development ministry has also suggested that Aadhaar should be used to authenticate profiles on matrimonial sites, so that the government knows who in India wants to get married, and can help them find partners. Strangely the report mentioned that incorporation of Aadhaar has been suggested, but “by early next year all matrimonial sites will have to comply”.
SC ruling on Aadhaar: The Supreme Court had ordered the government to not link social benefits to Aadhaar, in September last year. The West Bengal Assembly had also passed a resolution asking for the Central government to delink Aadhar from the Direct Benefits Transfer scheme, specifically LPG subsidy, in December the same year.