The central government’s citizen identity project, Aadhaar, is among its most controversial initiatives in recent years. No other project has had its scale or scope. About 1.13 billion Indians have been enrolled in it. It is has been linked not just to be eligible for subsidies but as proof of identity for several things with the latest being income tax filings and midday meals for schoolchildren. In going about the implementation of Aadhaar, the NDA government has shrugged away criticism by opposition lawmakers and activists, who have concerns over citizen privacy and a police state misusing the identity platform.
It has not helped that the debate around the project has been polarised with few, if any, balanced and nuanced arguments on it. Public opinion, not surprisingly, is confused around it — especially in upcountry India.
In March, we did a dipstick survey, together with 101Reporters, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters, through a set of vox populi questions posed to 48 individuals in 13 Indian states. We asked each of them five questions:
- Do you know the benefits/ uses of Aadhar?
- What are you views on Aadhaar?
- How did you get your Aadhaar Card?
- Has the Aadhaar card helped you in anyway? Are subsidies coming to your bank account based on Aadhaar?
- Do you feel secure using Aadhaar?
Reporters of 101Reporters were given strict instructions not to prompt answers. We wanted “as is, where is” responses on video. The idea was not to do a statistical exercise but get qualitative views of the common man on Aadhaar.
Most of the responses showed people are confused about Aadhaar. Like blindfolded men feeling an the proverbial elephant, they have a vague idea what Aadhaar is about. They seem to be going with the flow on what is seen as an important government initiative.
This video is a compilation of the few cogent responses.