Pension held hostage by Aadhaar
A senior citizen describes his ordeal when he is asked to submit his Aadhaar if he wants to continue receiving pension, followed by his scramble to get an Aadhaar card made. Note: there are many instances of the government making Aadhaar mandatory as well as instances of various authorities and service providers requiring Aadhaar or refusing, even in the absence of it being officially mandatory – for example, getting a disability certificate. This results in the violation of rights of citizens. This is in direct violation of the Supreme Court order that states “the Aadhaar card Scheme is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this Court one way or the other”
I am just writing down my experience in enrolling for the Aadhar card which the so called Govt.of India is making it mandatory for everything if one has to survive in India. It is very healthy for a country to have a system in place but the process down the line is like “left hand does not know what the right hand is doing”.
Some time in 2013, I enrolled for my Aadhar card, in the Taluk office in Thanjavur, along with my wife. While the Aadhar card in my wife’s name was received after couple of months, mine was “rejected due to technical error” as per online search. I was told that I have apply afresh for no fault of mine. Owing to some personal reasons, I had to move to New Delhi from Thanjavur. To my understanding, Aadhar card can be obtained at any place in India with ID and address proofs.
I called up a toll free number of Aadhar from Delhi. I got a call on my mobile after few minutes from somebody asking me to choose any option either come personally to an address (I do not recollect the address anyway) for which I would be charged RS.500/- or if I want someone to visit me at my residence and take details with photograph etc. I would have to pay RS.1000/-. I was shocked as to how the information of my requirement was leaked out to an agency (I never knew that such agencies also exist for Aadhar also), through a Govt call center. I did not pay attention as I was not sure if it was genuine call.
In December 2016, I came to Chennai to submit my existence or life certificate to ensure I keep getting my pension. When I asked for the blank form prescribed by pension department (apparently the form is not same every year and I first collect the form and then go to my bank miles away, get it certified and come back to pension office to submit which I am used to every year !!!) I was told that as per present process laid down by Govt. I need to submit my Aadhar card if I have to receive my pension. So I went back to Delhi.
I was searching for an aadhar center near to my residence so that I need not travel much being aged 65 yrs. Luckily in the month of December 2016 I found one address through my online search and visited that place only to be told that I have to check after 10 days. Since I planned to visit Thanjavur again, I thought of enrolling in Thanjavur thinking it would be easier in a town rather than in the city and also my address proof is of Thanjavur. I visited the same Taluk office in Thanjavur where I originally enrolled and got rejected. I was told that I have to go to a different office as my area where I live comes in that office’s jurisdiction. I went there and I was told that I have to fill in a form but they do not have stock of forms. Somebody in the queue advised me to collect the form from Taluk office center and submit. I again went to that center and requested for the form. They told me that I cannot use this form at other center as both forms are different !!!. It was shocking that for a single purpose, at the same town how can there be two different forms ? Only Govt. knows.
I came back to the center after few days to get the form but I was told that I should come only between 9.30 am and 10 am to get the form and they distribute only 20 forms in that half an hour time. So I should be lucky enough to be one of 20 !!. What a fun !!. Since I have been struggling for couple of years to get Aadhar card, I got irritated but politely told that young boy at the center that I came last time but he told there was no stock of forms and I came all the way from Delhi for this and requested him to consider and give the form as a special case. He was adamant and said if I had not seen the notice outside, without any respect that he was talking to an elderly man and senior citizen. He said I should come only at the given time and after submitting the filled in form they would give me a date as to when I have to come for the photograph and biometric. I can understand if they have to face huge crowd and get upset..But there were hardly 10-15 people in the queue for them to handle. As I said that I came from Delhi and have to leave after 4 days, he half hearted Lugol’s me to go to Collectors office which is more than 15 kms away and they would do the needful if I am in a hurry. I am really thankful to that boy even he refused my plea for giving me this information which turned out to be vital for me at that point of time.
I went to that office and could enroll finally without waiting for more than 45 minutes. During my wait time, I felt very bad to see a girl physically and mentally handicapped, brought in a wheel chair for Aadhar card. She cannot lift her head to look at the camera even with somebody’s help. The boy sitting there to do this job was very patient and tried his best to capture her picture but failed. After seeing that girl I felt that my problem is nothing. I have also met few old people who told me about their futile attempts to get their Aadhar cards.I was questioning to myself who will take such kind of hardship people are facing to follow the rules of Govt. Are we really living in a democratic country ? Is India fit to be called so?
Now I am sitting with my fingers crossed waiting to receive my Aadhar card without getting rejected again for no fault of mine, so that I can submit it to pension office.
Update: His application was rejected again after this email was sent to me.