a friend turned foe?

Anyone watching the telecast of the 2012-13 budget would have concluded that the Finance Ministry was solidly backing Nandan Nilekani’s Unique Identification Authority of India. The budget speech mentioned Nilekani by name. It mentioned the UID programme ten-odd times. And spoke about how Aadhaar would be used to overhaul existing subsidy regimes in India — from food to fertiliser.

Well. It’s now time to ask if that was the correct conclusion to draw. In an unexpected development, the Department of Financial Services (DFS), the unit of the finance ministry looking after the banking sector, has kicked off its own pilots for biometric authentication. A decision that a senior official in the UIDAI describes as a “purely anti-aadhaar play”.

See here. My story on a surprising development that raises large questions. For one, is this just cussedness by the department? Or is the government starting to create backup plans to Aadhaar so that cash transfers can be set in motion by 2014, Aadhaar or no Aadhaar?

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