CPI(M)’s dual face: Supports Aadhaar in Kerala, seeks its scrapping in manifesto

The CPI(M) has mentioned in their manifesto that Aadhaar is discriminatory and needs to go, but in Kerala, the only state that they are in power they have been pushing for Aadhaar enrolment

CPI(M)’s dual face: Supports Aadhaar in Kerala, seeks its scrapping in manifesto

Ashlin Mathew

It seems like the CPI(M) doesn’t believe in practicing what they preach. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) had on Thursday released their manifesto, in which they have mentioned that Aadhaar is discriminatory and needs to go. But, in Kerala, the only state that they are in power, they have been pushing for Aadhaar enrolment in welfare schemes and health insurance.

CPI(M)’s manifesto states that they would “seek elimination of the present targeted system and establishment of a reformed and strengthened universal public distribution excluding income-tax payees. No linkage with Aadhaar”.

Then it adds that 12 LPG cylinders per year would be provided at a subsidised rate with no Aadhaar linkage. Saving the best for later, they have said they would want the ‘scrapping of the use of Aadhaar and biometrics for all social welfare measures’.

But, in Kerala, the Pinarayi Vijayan government has been insisting on Aadhaar linkage for welfare and health insurance schemes. In fact, in the state’s Health department, the additional chief secretary Rajeev Sadanandan has been pushing for using the Aadhaar number to avail health insurance benefits.

In a recently released document, the Kerala government has specifically stated that the Aadhaar will be the primary document. The rules released stated that “Aadhaar will be the primary identity document for a family member that has to be produced under the KASP/AB-PMJAY scheme”. The rules go on to state that in case the family does not have an Aadhaar card, then they will be eligible for treatment only once without an Aadhaar card or an Aadhaar Registration slip. They have to then immediately apply for an Aadhaar card.

According to the Kerala IT policy, its states that the “Government shall initiate action for universal Aadhaar enrolment linking all government data bases. Aadhaar based biometric authentication shall be used for direct reimbursement of subsidies and benefits.” It goes on to add that ‘in the absence of Aadhaar, the services shall be given to citizens on the basis of other basic documents”.

This highlights the fact that Aadhaar would be the foremost document required and only if it malfunctions can other documents be used. This is in contradiction with the CPI(M)’s stated policy and their manifesto.

The Kerala government has earmarked Rs 139 crore of the Rs 574 crore IT Sector budget for the Kerala State IT Mission. The ‘Mission’ is for Aadhaar-enabled services in an area and for coordinating various government services.

Additionally, the Kerala government is planning to digitise fingerprints and photo of people who use land and document registration services.

Data storage against the law

During Aadhaar enrolment, basic demographic data called Know Your Resident (KYR) is collected. A few states such as Kerala also collects data such as Marital Status, Occupation, PAN card number, bank details using the same enrolment software and it is known as KYR+.

When enrolment is complete, it generates two sets of enrolment packets, one containing KYR and biometrics for UIDAI, and another with KYR and KYR+ for state registrars known as State Resident Data Hubs (SRDH).

This is in contradiction to what the UIDAI has stated. It has submitted in the Supreme Court that only minimal information is collected about the resident and that data is never shared without consent.

According to an article on The Medium, at the time of enrolment, the SRDH does not receive the Aadhaar number of the residents, but only the enrolment ID (EID). Once an Aadhaar number (UID) is generated, the pair of (EID, UID) is sent to the states, which enables of the state’s beneficiary databases, without requiring further user consent.

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