Over the past fortnight, Aadhaar has followed Indians everywhere. On Sunday, newspapers reported that enrollment in the government’s biometric-based identity number programme would be essential for anyone seeking to obtain or renew a driver’s licence.
Already, the government has announced that Aadhaar will be essential for to apply for a new telephone number as well as for existing connections to stay operational after February 2018, for income tax returns to be filed, for children to get their mid-day meals and for 11 other schemes.
In their enthusiasm for making Aadhaar compulsory for Indians to access a range of services, the government is actually violating a Supreme Court order of October 2015 specifying that the Universal Identification Document cannot be made mandatory for any government scheme. It can only be used as voluntary identification for five specific government programmes: the public distribution scheme, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the National Social Assistance Programme, the Jan Dhan Yojana and for LPG subsidies.
The Aadhaar programme has been criticised on several grounds. Among the weaknesses that have been pointed out is that India has no privacy law to protect the misuse of this data. Critics have also noted that the technology on which the project is based is unreliable: many parts of rural India lack the electricity and internet connections essential for the programme to work.
When the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government introduced the programme in 2009, it said it hoped the programme would reduce leakages in the country’s welfare programmes. Critics have been alarmed at how far the aims have changed since then – and at the lack of concern most Indians have expressed of this seeming instance of government overreach.
On Sunday evening, Twitter erupted with a bouquet of memes that pointed out the flaws in the programme. It didn’t take long for #AadhaarMemes to start trending.
Here are some images that hit the social-media site.
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