Compared with the total of over 72 crore people enrolled with Aadhaar, 10 crore having their data seeded with the bank accounts may appear short in a big way, considering the government’s plan of linking it to the direct benefit transfers (DBT) for social sector schemes, subsidy payments and the ambitious Digital India to provide public services across the country. Against the backdrop of UPA’s Aadhaar-based cash transfer scheme failing to take off and the chances of a possible demise of the Congress party’s flagship project in the BJP-led NDA regime, however, this certainly looks impressive. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana is obviously driving the surge in Aadhaar seeding with bank accounts and these 10 crore people—it is expected the number would grow rapidly in the next few months—can now digitally receive government subsidies and other payments directly into their bank accounts.
The good news is despite all the problems and oppositions to Aadhaar, the Aadhaar-based payment bridge is working well—about 8 crore transactions amounting to R5,152 crore have been made through this in the DBT for LPG, MGNREGA, tribal welfare schemes and pensions till December 9. The challenge for the Modi government has been to extend this success to the tricky areas of food and fertiliser subsidies. This looks possible now with schemes such as Bhamashah of Rajasthan and Samagra of Madhya Pradesh showing the way in terms of states successfully adopting Aadhaar for social schemes’ money disbursal.