Nandan Nilekeni, who is contesting from Bangalore, declared assets worth 7,700 crore rupees, making him the richest politician in India - at least officially, on paper. In his interview to NDTV, he described his rags to riches story and described some of his achievements including "My real wealth is however my experience as cofounder of Infosys and as Aadhar Chairman which gave away 60,000 crore identity cards to people of India as promised." [Congress supporters are now saying this number is wrong and he said 60 crore, which creates problems of a different sort. Read on.]
This sounds very wonderful, except as a long term critic of Aadhaar Cards, I wanted to verify.
60 thousand crore is 600000000000.
Now, as per our census, India's population over 7 years of age is 1,051,404,135.
Let us put these two numbers side by side, and you will see what I saw.
Even if every single Indian above age 7 has an Aadhaar card, he has distributed more cards than the population. Not just more, 570 TIMES more.
One can only wonder who got the remaining cards, particularly considering the recent Cobrapost sting about how easy it is to create fake Aadhaar cards.
This is supposed to be an achievement?
Now people are saying NDTV reported wrong, and he said 60 crore, which makes some sense, as that is the number being used quite frequently (60 crore UID cards, 60 crore saved per year, etc)
So now the numbers look like
Which, at least looks like a possible number, but now, at an estimated expense of 150,000 crore so far (it was 45,000 crore in 2010) it is looking like we have spent a mind boggling Rs.2,500 on each card "given away"? (If it were 60 thousand crore cards, they'd have cost a very cheap Rs.2.5)
And after all this, what we have is a card anyone can fake (remember the UID card for "coriander" plant?). The data is owned privately and stored on servers in the US, where it will be subject to US laws and could be accessed by the US government (if not already). One only has to wonder what the biometric data will be for people who don't even go in person to get their cards made.
In any case, this ain't looking like something a chap would put as an achievement or learning!
For a reference, the entire health sector was allocated 37,330 crore in the budget - this includes NHM (NRHM + NUHM) - 21,239 crore, AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) - 1069 crore, 4, 727 crore for medical education, training and research, 150 crore will be provided for ‘The National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly’, Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) (medical colleges) - 1650 crore and more.
And we are saying making ID cards and records for less than 60% of the population costs almost 4 times all this?