The union government is in the final stages of creating an Aadhar-based National Social Registry to deliver government welfare schemes, according to a media report. The registry will integrate an individual’s data, such as religion, caste, income, property, education, marital status and employment with their Aadhaar number.
The report in The Huffington Post was based on responses obtained under the Right to Information Act, 2005. It said that an expert committee, set up to implement the registry by next year, is in the final stages of planning a pilot project.
The registry was proposed to monitor the beneficiaries of central rural welfare schemes and update data collected as part of the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011.
In January 2017, an expert group, under the chairmanship of former finance secretary Sumit Bose, had proposed to the Ministry of Rural Development that a Social Registry Information System (SRIS) be set up. It said: “It (SRIS) has the potential to streamline programme administration, reduce duplication of benefits and fraud, saving on time and costs for both programme applicants and service providers, monitoring the living standards of beneficiaries over time, better targeting of vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society and enable expansion of the coverage of the programmes”.
According to The Huffington Post report, the social registry, in its current form, opens up citizens to mass surveillance. The report added that the Unique Identification Authority of India, the government body that issues Aadhaar numbers, has suggested amendments in the Aadhaar Regulations 2016 to ensure that it does not violate the Supreme Court judgement of 2018. The court had said that private companies could not ask for Aadhaar and citizens need not link their bank accounts with the 12-digit identification number.