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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 11, March 11, 2023

Aadhaar and Disempowerment | Arup Kumar Sen

Saturday 11 March 2023, by Arup Kumar Sen


The Union government is pursuing the aggressive policy of linking welfare schemes for the people with Aadhaar. According to the social activist, Nikhil Dey, recent shift to Aadhaar-based payment of MGNREGA wages took place when only 43 per cent of workers had their bank accounts Aadhaar-seeded. Very recently, the Centre sought monthly updates on the number of Aadhaar-authenticated students at every government and aided school in the country and the number of midday meals each serves. It is apprehended that the government plans to tie the midday meals with Aadhaar-seeding of enrolments. This apprehension is triggered by the recent government diktat. To put it in the words of The Telegraph (February 22, 2023): “Policy experts and social activists said the fears were buttressed by the government’s diktat that the data must be uploaded on the Centre’s PM Poshan portal. PM Poshan is the current avatar of the midday meal scheme”. Nikhil Dey’s observation in this connection is worthy of attention: “If a section of children is excluded (from the monthly updates), the schools will get less material. The schools will then compromise on the quality and quantity of food” (ibid.).

Jean Dreze, the critical economist, argued that the government move of linking midday meal for school children with Aadhaar is “blatant violation of the Supreme Court’s orders” (ibid.).

The recent initiatives of the Union government to link welfare benefits with the Aadhaar Scheme are nothing but strategic moves to disempower the vulnerable sections of the people.

Arup Kumar Sen

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