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'OB van campaigns won't solve corruption problem'

Last updated on: October 22, 2012 19:10 IST

'OB van campaigns won't solve corruption problem'

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UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani, in an interview to CNN-IBN, says that Aadhaar enabled service delivery is a far more effective way to fight corruption.

What is Aadhaar enabled public delivery system

The Aadhaar number gives a unique identity and we are doing that so far to 21 crore people, and that's an online ID using biometric technology. Now to that ID you can attach a bank account, a government programme -- like a pension programme or a scholarship. You can credit money electronically to the bank account using the Aadhaar number and a person can just go and withdraw money anywhere from a business correspondent. That is how it will work for cash transfers.

The same concept can be done for Public Distribution System. For e.g. If somebody has a rice account, they can use an Aadhaar number to authenticate before claiming their rice at a PDS outlet. So both for cash and kind, Aadhaar enables a better delivery and accurate beneficiary identification and authentication.

Government departments not accepting the Aadhaar number

I think it's a process and we will see more and more proclamations from different depts.

Over time it will become proof of identity and proof of address for many schemes, including for bank accounts, mobile connections. You have to see this as a major transition...We have now reached 21 crore people i.e. one out of five Indians has an Aadhaar number. By next year one out of three Indians will have an Aadhaar number and by the year after that one out two Indians will have an Aadhaar number. So that is pretty serious penetration. It is already a gateway for LPG connections; it's an ID proof number for SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) transactions, for insurance policies, for railways.

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Image: Nandan Nilekani
Photographs: Reuters

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'Aadhaar will help in reducing retail corruption'

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Aadhaar number being government's weapon to fight corruption

It is important to understand that it's not just about the corruption dimension. One, it's the world's largest social inclusion project. For the first time millions of people will get an ID in their lives. It will help in making your fiscal spending more efficient by reducing diversion and fraud. It helps in empowering anyone to withdraw their money and as a consequence of all this it also helps in reducing retail corruption.

For retail transactions which involve an individual getting a benefit that could either be cash or in kind...this will help in streamlining that, reducing hassles for them, empowering them. So automatically corruption is addressed. So let's say you can only go to one person for pension or one PDS outlet to get rice. Tomorrow if you have this network, I can go to any business correspondent to withdraw my money or any PDS to withdraw my rice. Automatically the bargaining power shifts to the resident, that's how the empowerment happens.

Aadhaar enabled public delivery system being a pre election gimmick

No, it has been three years since we started this scheme and it has been two years since we launched it. Right from day one we have been saying this will reach six million people by 2014 and we have said that this will be a platform for transfer of both cash and kind. So we are absolutely going by that. I have received strong support from the government since day one. Our goal is to build a plumbing and architecture to make it easy for people to get the benefits.

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Image: Manmohan Singh addressing at the launch of Aadhaar Enabled Service Delivery, in Dudu, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Photographs: Courtesy: PIB
Tags: PDS

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'You don't fix corruption by creating more laws'

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Lokpal and the IAC's (India Against Corruption) anti-corruption campaigns not an effective way to fight corruption

I am as much for fighting corruption as the next guy. I absolutely believe that we need to fix those things but I certainly don't believe that passing a law or creating more inspectors is going to solve the corruption problem. That's absolutely a wrong prescription and you may want some of that... I think we have done enough of that and what we need now is to fix the delivery system.

On Kejriwal's OB van politics

The notion that you can bring corruption down by having a bunch of OB vans (outdoor broadcasting)... I think that's not going to solve problems. I think that there is a lack of appreciation of what the long-term institutional changes required are to get to what we want.

What Aadhaar mean for the fight against corruption

I think it means for millions of people, social inclusion... where they become part of the formal society; empowerment for them, improvement in the way they deliver benefits and as a by-product of this it also means the resident's state interface gets streamlined and automatically corruption in that interface comes down. That's my point that you don't fix corruption by creating more laws, more inspectors and more punitive measures on bureaucrats. You fix it by changing the underlying system that millions of people get better service.


Image: Arvind Kejriwal

Tags: IAC

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