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‘Aadhaar’ for your family — Modi govt plans new universal ID to ‘ease welfare distribution’

The family ID will be aimed at keeping a tab on the beneficiaries of flagship schemes of the central as well as states govts by making each family an 'identifying unit'.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is exploring the prospect of developing a “universal family ID” — somewhat on the lines of the Aadhaar card, which comes with a unique identification number for every citizen. 

The family ID, senior government officials told ThePrint, will be aimed at keeping a tab on the beneficiaries of flagship schemes of the central administration as well as states by making each family an “identifying unit”.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) along with the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the National Informatics Centre Services Inc (NICSI) will study, develop and implement the project, the government officials said. 

Plans for the scheme were also discussed in a letter written by MeiTY to several ministries last month. In the letter, a copy of which has been accessed by ThePrint, MeiTY said it will help make the government’s welfare schemes and programmes more effective by removing “inherent deficiencies and gaps” due to “nonstandard beneficiary identification”. 

The aforementioned government officials said the idea is to create a “universal family registry”, under which every member of a family is provided with a common ID. 

This, they added, will help identify “family-based” beneficiaries for different schemes being implemented by the central and the state governments. A single national digital platform will be created as part of the process, the sources said.

A senior government official, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the development to ThePrint, but said the idea is still at a preliminary stage. Several aspects need to be discussed and sorted out before it gets a final shape, the official added.

“Right now, we are studying the different models that are being implemented by various states, such as Haryana. We are just studying their systems, based on which a report will be drafted,” the official said. “Only after that, there would be greater clarity on the initiative and its implementation.”

Some other states have also worked in a similar direction and their initiatives will be looked into as well, the official added.

Also Read: ‘Money is scarce’ — Modi govt set to axe about 40 schemes that ‘have lost relevance’

On the lines of Haryana govt family ID scheme

Launched in July 2019, the Haryana family ID scheme is known as the ‘Parivar Pehchan Patra’. The objective, the government says, is to create authentic, verified and reliable data of all families in Haryana.

Enrolment in the scheme is reportedly mandatory. Under the scheme, each and every family in Haryana is being identified and their basic data — obtained with the family’s consent — is stored digitally. Each family is then provided with an eight-digit ID that is linked to birth, death and marriage records. This helps ensure automatic updation of the database when any of these events occur.

“Family ID will link existing, independent schemes like scholarships, subsidies and pensions, so as to ensure consistency and reliability and at the same time enabling (sic) automatic selection of beneficiaries of various schemes, subsidies and pensions,” the state government website states

The data available in the family ID database will be used to determine eligibility, which will allow automatic selection of beneficiaries, it adds. 

Once the data has been authenticated and verified, beneficiaries need not submit further documents.

However, the scheme has been surrounded by privacy concerns over the usage of the data collected since the state actively started collecting information over the past few months. 

Many other states are pursuing similar initiatives. While Karnataka is in the process of rolling out a family ID project, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are reportedly among others mulling the initiative. 

Workshop soon for deeper discussions

In April, a meeting of various stakeholders was held to discuss the implementation strategy of the proposed family ID scheme at the central level.

According to the aforementioned letter, the decisions taken at the meeting included one regarding the involvement of central ministries for seamless implementation. 

The ministries were asked to appoint a nodal officer for implementing the initiative and to ensure coordination in data sharing.

Among other things, the letter spoke of a consultative workshop being planned to share information about the initiative, “solicit ideas and best practices”, discuss business logic for “accurate identification of beneficiaries and families”, and integration of the proposed system with the existing applications, and to seek suggestions for efficient implementation.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

Also Read: Modi’s centralisation of welfare delivery has a cost that BJP’s state leaders are paying


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