Aadhar and Starvation; India Needs to Address Lapses in PDS
Probing cases of starvation linked to the victims not having an Aadhar Card, India’s recently implemented and practically enforced universal identification, activists say that the government needs to ensure supply of essential commodities instead of insisting on documents and proof of identification in a fledgling system. Aadhar verification makes use of biometric information such as fingerprints, but the system requires electricity and a working internet connection for the machine at the point of identification to communicate with the server, something that is not always or readily available even in some less remote parts of the country, as of yet.
While the ruling BJP had no comments on the issue of deaths arising from people being denied their monthly rations because they either did not possess an Aadhar Card, or were not able to prove their identification by other means, it appears that they have stuck to their point about the new system having eradicated loopholes in the public distribution system (PDS) that were previously exploited by middlemen and fake ration cards. The irony of these claims is not lost on those families who say that they have lost members due to starvation brought on by not being allowed access to essential food items because they did not possess an Aadhar Card.
Adding to the ire of the activists and the victims is the fact that there is published data on the fact that roughly 40% of the total output of grains and produce in a given year, the value of which is estimated to be about $8 billion, is wasted every year. As India moves forward on many fronts, it becomes harder and harder to ignore those who are being left on the sidelines of progress and development, and suffering the consequences, as a result.