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No govt can afford to scrap Aadhaar project, says Nilekani

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Nandan Nilekani, Congress candidate for Lok Sabha elections from Bangalore South constituency, today said Aadhaar project would be continued irrespective of which party comes to power at the Centre. The project has proved to be an effective tool in saving government expenditure on subsidies and entitlements for the large population, he said.

“Aadhaar is a transformational project and the full value of that will be seen in the years to come. There are two big problems in India for the people. Many people do not have birth certificates and do not have any identity proof. Aadhaar is an identity and helps in opening a bank account, to get admission for children, travel on a train or even secure a job. It is a form of empowerment and it is very popular and that is why 600 million have taken the number,” Nilekani said, here today.

Addressing members of Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), a premier trade body in the state, he said Aadhaar card ensures that only genuine people get the entitlement subsidy.

“I believe that at least 10 per cent improvement in the productivity of government expenditure on entitlement and subsidies could be brought in with the help of Aadhaar cards. Now, the annual budget of the government on such subsidies is Rs 300,000 crore a year. If 10 per cent improvement is done, we can save Rs 30,000 crore a year as a taxpayer to the government. So, this is a very very important project for both empowerment as well as for making government expenditure efficient,” he said.

The former chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said people are criticizing the Aadhaar project just because he is contesting elections. And many of those who are criticizing this project have already enrolled for Aadhaar card. They did not have any problems all these days, he said.

“Aadhaar had the budgetary allocation in five budgets and approved by Parliament. I think some of them who are desperate are making an issue out of it. The data collected from the people is safe and is stored in government controlled data centres within the country and no data has gone out of the country till now. This is a misconception and false allegations are made,” he said.

He further assured the members of FKCII that whichever government comes to power would continue the project. “I am very confident that once the new government comes into place, Aadhaar will continue and in fact it will be the foundation for the fundamental reform of public delivery in India,” Nilekani added.

Nilekani?s opponent in Bangalore South, BJP’s H N Ananth Kumar had said that the BJP government, if voted to power, would scrap Aadhaar project “lock, stock and barrel”. Even BJP president Rajnath Singh said yesterday that the NDA government would review the project.

Commenting on Congress party?s manifesto, which talked about creation of 100 million jobs, Nilekani, who was part of the manifesto committee, said, ?We have recognised the importance of job creation. India has such a large pool of young people who need to have employment. We have put the target of creating 100 million jobs. We will create an environment for job creation. A detailed roadmap will be announced for job creation once the UPA returns to power.?

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