The plan to offer a 'Virtual ID' as a one-time Aadhaar validation could create its own set of problem for those citizens of India who do not have a mobile number or access to one.
To address privacy concerns, the UIDAI on Wednesday has introduced this new concept of 'Virtual ID' . An Aadhaar number holder can generate the ID and share with any organisation that demands to know the number for providing services.
So when one approaches an airline to take a flight, one need not share the 12-digit biometric-based Aadhaar number but the virtual one time ID.
While this will be comfortable for anyone with a mobile, the advantage will be restricted for others who have not linked a mobile with Aadhaar or shares a mobile, even if one has. This is likely to be of particular concern to not just rural women but also poor migrant worker families where often it is the husbands who carries the sole mobile number. Without access to it, she will be hamstrung in accessing services that are linked to Aadhaar.
A UIDAI source confirmed that presence of mobile is essential to take advantage of the virtual ID plan that has been possibly the biggest change in the Aadhaar architecture since its inception. The Virtual ID, which would be a random 16-digit number, together with biometrics of the user would give any authorised agency like a mobile company, limited details like name, address and photograph, which are enough for any verification.
Research by GSMA, an umbrella body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide estimated that women in India are 36 per cent less likely than men to own a mobile phone or a gap which means that there is an estimated 114 million fewer women than men owning a mobile phone.
The source also said that this difference may not matter when someone uses Aadhaar to draw wages every month like in NREGA or for seeding of bank accounts, per se. Applicants would need to furnish their Aadhaar number for such usage everytime.