The amount of exclusions from food ration due to Aadhaar-related factors is "significant" but lower than those by factors unrelated to the national biometric ID, according to a survey.
A household survey in three states of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, and West Bengal, found that majority of Indians value privacy but 87 per cent also approve of linking Aadhaar to programmes like PDS.
"While exclusion from food ration (PDS) due to Aadhaar-related factors is significant, it is lower than exclusion explained by factors unrelated to Aadhaar," the survey conducted by global development analytics firm IDinsight said.
Overall monthly exclusion from PDS in Rajasthan is 9.9 per cent, whereas it is 1.1 per cent in Andhra Pradesh. Of this, Aadhaar-related factors contribute 2.2 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively, the report said.
Despite this, the report claimed to have found that a majority of food ration (PDS) recipients prefer Aadhaar-based PDS delivery in both states, "as they perceive biometric authentication prevents identity fraud", it said.
The biometric ID Aadhaar coverage is now bigger than election voter IDs and has become the most common ID proof for opening of bank accounts and obtaining mobile SIM cards, the report by the global development analytics firm which is working across India said.
Aadhaar is the most widely held unique and verifiable identity, covering 120.9 crore residents, but the quality of the Aadhaar data has rooms for improvement.
To reduce programme exclusion, the report recommended reconsidering monthly biometric authentication as well as exploring alternative technologies (like offline authentication) or processes (like annual verification) that provide a similar secure experience, but reduce Aadhaar-related exclusion.
Also, rules allowing alternative IDs or authentication mechanisms should be enforced. "Mechanisms are in place to ensure bene?ts are not denied due to Aadhaar: enforce these strongly. Awareness of other authentication means (eg, mobile OTP) is low: popularise them," it said.
"PDS exclusion due to the failure of the local administration, though small, should be taken very seriously by the concerned agencies. They should ensure that not a single beneficiary should be denied benefits or services," he said.
Exclusion is a concern which is being seriously addressed by the Union government and various state ministries and departments with necessary directions and circulars, he said.
Pandey said the Aadhaar Act and government instructions provide for alternative means of identification for the genuine beneficiaries who face problems in authentication.
The report said its scale, ability to uniquely identify individuals, and digital interface make Aadhaar a compelling identification platform. But these same features also raise questions about privacy, data security, and exclusion.
"The current debate on Aadhaar is binary in nature: either Aadhaar should be jettisoned or scaled aggressively," it said.
On privacy, Pandey said, "We value privacy as a right which is fundamental. We appreciate that as per the report Indians as a majority almost 87 per cent approve linking pof Aadhaar to government services and 77 per cent to private services."
Aadhaar has rapidly become the foundational identity document of Indian residents. It has achieved near-universality in its coverage and acceptance in India, the report said citing 1.2 billion residents currently enrolled on Aadhaar platform.
While the base is larger than voter ID, Aadhaar data has more self-reported errors. West Bengal reported 12.2 per cent errors in Aadhaar compared to 10.4 per cent in voter IDs.
Most errors were in name and address, the three-state survey said adding to reduce the number of errors in Aadhaar data, conduct 'update campaigns' and set up camps, similar to the enrolment camps that were well-received and worked well in increasing Aadhaar coverage.
"People also encountered more challenges with the process of updating their Aadhaar, compared to the process of enrolling, such as paying higher-than-required fees," it said.
Aadhaar's analog version (the letter) is much more widely used to open bank accounts than its digital version (e-KYC). Also, 435 govt schemes use DBTs to transfer benefits to bank accounts (some via Aadhaar), incentivizing account usage.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)