Three years earlier, when the first Aadhar card was issued in Maharashtra, it was assumed that there will be one identity card finally that will allow people to get all the benefits from the government and help resolve all the know-your-customer problems that consumers face while opening an account or even buying a mobile SIM card.
Over the past three years, there has been a constant debate on whether the card will fulfil its dreams. The importance of Aadhaar has constantly been under question. In the initial days of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) project, no financial institution accepted it as identity proof. It was only in December 2012, over two years after the first card was issued, that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) allowed banks to accept Aadhaar as valid proof to open bank accounts. Yet this Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Aadhaar was not mandatory for essential services such as salary, provident fund disbursals and marriage and property registrations.
Obviously, the question is that whether one should really go for Aadhaar anymore? Its own members vouch for it. A senior official of UIDAI who spoke to Business Standard on condition of anonymity said, "As of today, having an Aadhaar number isn't important or mandatory. But, it is being pushed by the government. So, going forward it will be very important." A former member of the UIDAI project called it a 'random' identity proof. He added that given it may take anywhere between 60 and 90 days (or even more in many cases) to get an Aadhaar card, though it will take a long time to make it mandatory to have Aadhaar card. So far, UIDAI has issued numbers to 429.6 million people.
In July, minister of state for parliamentary affairs and planning, Rajeev Shukla, had also said, "Aadhaar card is not mandatory to avail subsidised facilities being offered by the government like LPG cylinders, admission in private aided schools, opening a savings account etc."
Experts, therefore, feel the government needs to give the card some teeth for it to succeed. Ashvin Parekh, partner and national leader – global financial services at Ernst & Young. "Aadhaar has moved away from the original premise of being the single identity proof, which would have more information about an individual, beyond just his name and date of birth. The government has diluted the role of UIDAI. It should clarify the position of Aadhaar."
Meanwhile, what should you do? If you still haven't got an Aadhaar card, it makes sense to have it. Even if its importance is uncertain, there is no harm is keeping another identity card that will help in some transactions in the future. But, there is no need to rush to get it immediately.