“The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which is the issuing agency for ‘Aadhaar' cards as identification for Indian citizens has covered 10 per cent of the population (12 million ca rds) as on January 20,” said Hindu BusinessLine Announcing this to reporters, the UIDAI Chairman, Mr Nandan Nilekani, said, “The authority by harnessing the technology available in the world has been able to achieve issuance of one million cards per day. We have set a target to complete 60 per cent or 600 million cards by 2014.” That will mean that, by 2014, just 50 percent of the population will be covered. If Aadhaar are to be linked to all railway tickets through barcodes, how will this 50 percent prove their bonafides, unless it is through another means of identification? It makes more sense for the railways to link tickets to any one of many proofs of identification, as is done by banks. Banks, for example, accept the PAN Card, Indian Passport, driving license, voter ID card, among others. So should the railways. Aadhaar as the only valid ID makes sense only when a significant milestone is reached – when all their potential customers have an Aadhaar card. Till then, it makes no sense.
The Aadhaar scheme is intended to be a one-stop solution to verifying an individual’s identity across the country. It may not be implemented immediately but it can help eliminate the number of fraud ulent bookings that take place on the railways. Linking the booking of railway tickets to Aadhaar cards would particularly be effective in limiting the amount of bookings made under fake names presently and could free the system from the clutches of the touts. The railways are already bursting at the seams and any scheme to reduce the number of fake tickets that are being booked daily is welcome. Given the other forms of identity proofs used haven’t been particularly effective, the use of Aadhaar cards might just help.