Currently, 85.5% Ration Cards of at least one member of family are seeded with Aadhaar number, MP Danve Raosaheb Dadarao had informed Lok Sabha on July 17, when Shiv Sena MP Ranjan Vichare asked him about the number of ration cards linked with Aadhaar. In Maharastra, 1,42,47,780 ration cards have been linked with Aadhaar cards according to the details provided by the minister in the annexure. Dadarao said that this was being done for “better targeting of food subsidies”.

The minister mentioned the Ministry of Consumer Affairs’ “end-to-end computerisation of TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System) operations” scheme in collaboration with all States and UTs which is done on a “cost sharing basis”. Digitisation of ration cards and other databases, computerisation of supply chain management are a part of this scheme.

The digitisation of ration cards data has been completed in all 36 states & UTs, Dadaro informed Lok Sabha. A total of 2.98 crore bogus ration cards have been deleted between 2013-18, said Dadarao, when asked if linking e-ration cards with Aadhaar card had helped the government in cancellation of bogus ration cards.

Minister of Consumer Affairs, Ramvilas Paswan, however, had given a slightly different number on the number of ration cards seeded with Aadhaar – 85.41% – in the Rajya Sabha on June 26. Following is a table of of ration cards issued, ration cards linked with Aadhaar and deleted/cancelled ration cards, as presented by Paswan in Rajya Sabha:

Remember the govt’s idea of a central database in the Economic Survey 2018-19?

The seeding of ration cards with Aadhaar details means that the consumer affairs ministry has a robust database of ration cards which are seeded with Aadhaar details. This leads us the to the government’s idea of creating a central database repository as proposed in the Economic Survey 2018-19 – where several ministries would be responsible for making available the data they hold as a data provider. The central database would allow one ministry to access the data collected by another ministry. The Income Tax department is also planning to collect taxpayers’ data and warehouse it for “data quality management, data enrichment [and] data analytics”, under its Project Insight. The government had said in the Survey that they already hold a rich repository of data, but there was a need to bring all of it it together.

Here is how the government’s proposed central database repository looks like:

Not to forget, that the government can sell citizens’ data to private companies and data analytics firms for “commercial use” and “generating insights” for “profits”, according to the Economic Survey.