"UID is a threat to national security"
Surprisingly, this objection has come up only recently, and from within the government! In what seems like an unfortunate turf war, the Home Ministry had recently pointed to the UIDAI’s plan to enroll the ‘ID-less’ through a system of ‘Introducers’ as one reason for its concern. (The other reason cited is the lack of governmental oversight at enrolment centres.) The Parliamentary Standing Committee seems to have not only endorsed that concern, but added its own that issuance of Aadhaar to all residents (without regard to citizenship) was a threat to national security.
How do these arguments hold up in reality?
Fact 1: The UIDAI’s plan to use the concept of Introducers to enroll the ID-less (i.e. those who do not have any acceptable documents to prove their identity and address) was on the basis of a recommendation from a committee headed by ex-CVC Shri Vittal, which included Dr. C. Chandramauli, Registar General of India and representative of the Home Ministry!
Fact 2: The UIDAI has a special mandate to enroll the poor and marginalized groups. If such groups are not otherwise enrollable through programs like MGNREGS, there is no other way to get them into the system other than to rely upon local officials, NGOs, or teachers, who are willing to ‘introduce’ them. However, there are built-in audit capabilities in the system to prevent fraud in the Introducer system. But, at the end of the day, the best insurance against fraud is that a person gets to enroll in UID only once, and he/she must live with that identity and can’t game the system.
Fact 3: The Home Ministry’s NPR too does not test for citizenship (as intended in the 2003 Citizenship Rules), but uses the term ‘usual resident,’ which the UIDAI too has adopted. This acknowledges the reality that test of citizenship in India is a non-trivial highly sensitive exercise. Also, our understanding is that unlike the UIDAI, NPR does not ask for any documentary proof!
Fact 4: The UIDAI’s Introducer system has hardly begun to take off, and only a tiny percentage of the enrollments to date appear to have relied upon it. In all likelihood, it will take close cooperation between the government and the NGO sector to make the system work for the millions of ‘ID-less.’
It is hard to see how the UIDAI process can be a threat to national security any more than the process used by the NPR. The implication that reasonable attempts to enroll the ID-less could threaten national security is very unfortunate, in our view, and could well lead to a situation where the millions of currently ID-less will remain so, while those of us who have a slew of ID documents will end up getting one more!
We are glad that the UIDAI and the Planning Commission are finally publicly acknowledging the reality that there are fundamental differences between the missions of UID and NPR.
“Nandan Nilekani's Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is seeking a Union Cabinet go-ahead, with Aadhaar enrolments beyond 20 crore residents, on the ground that the scheme objective was fundamentally different from the National Population Register (NPR) of the home ministry and convergence of the two projects was not feasible. Government sources said the authority was now seeking a fresh revision in the already circulated note for the Union Cabinet stating that the Aadhaar project's objective was to provide a proof of identity to all willing residents in order to improve delivery of social welfare programmes, while NPR's objective was enhancing national security.” (Hindustan Times, Jan 12, 2012)