In place of Aadhaar, the government should enable a Shared ID at

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The Aadhaar does not serve any purpose of governance. It does not protect public interest. Since it has failed to convince anyone of its benefits, except the private interests served by its implementation, it’s time to look for alternatives to Aadhaar.

In place of Aadhaar, the government may enable a Shared ID at The idea of “Shared ID”, as designed in Pune, is to allow citizens to create, own and share their own id. They have complete control on who can see or use the id.

If the Shared ID is shared with a government agency, it will allow the owner of the id to verify and associate their government records like birth, marriage, etc. These records will then remain associated with the Shared ID. Any requests to link the same government record to multiple owners will trigger an alert or even an audit of the owner’s id. This is exactly the opposite of what the Aadhaar does. Unlike the Aadhaar, which makes every id have Aadhaar as a primary key, the Shared ID associates other ids as verification and does not expose them to any modification.

The citizens who submit their Shared ID to any government agency can access information on incentives, schemes, and programmes they automatically qualified for, or availed, based on their profile. They can also access information on demography, energy use, water use, land use, mobility and other details in their neighbourhood after logging in to their account on Importantly, the Shared ID is not necessary for delivering any entitlement, but rather allows those who create a Shared ID to keep a track of all the entitlements they receive. This id serves the purpose of allowing the citizen to manage their id and contact sharing, and keep a passbook of services, rights, benefits or entitlements qualified for or availed during their lifetime. For those digitally excluded, the local post office may create and manage Shared ID accounts that would be subject to audit.

Although the government has information on every citizen, it does not have a mechanism to identify beneficiaries proactively without requiring those who wish to benefit from a scheme to fill various forms and submit many documents providing information that the government itself issued or already has. This is both a waste of resources as also a way to exclude those who may really qualify.

The government can overcome this by internally connecting the birth, marriage, address registrations and death records without requiring any form, id numbers or id from citizens to create a National Population Register (NPR). This would then be used to identify the benefits each citizen is entitled to. This would also ensure that no citizen would need to submit to government any document issued by the government itself. While automatic entitlements and benefits could be provided to beneficiaries identified by the NPR, manual benefits should continue to those not automatically included in NPR.

For those who have a Shared ID, their entitlements would be visible on their Shared ID account. In order to ensure full inclusion, all those eligible for various benefits would be listed on for public audit. Such a system serves the purpose of enabling inclusion of all citizens and not that of exclusion from services, as does the Aadhaar.

To ensure that no one is denied any service, right, benefit or entitlement for want of an id, the government may require that each agency delivering any entitlement or right will register anyone not already in their registry, who benefits from their service, right, benefit or entitlement. Such a record would be maintained to eliminate the need to re-register the beneficiary for future transactions and ensure the delivery of rights without any hassles, while at the same time permitting any audit of the delivery of entitlements and rights. In order to ensure full inclusion, all those having taken benefits would be listed at for public audit. Those who have some records with the government would already be on the list. For those who are not on the list this would ensure inclusion to receive benefits. On receiving benefits they too would be listed on for a public audit. Such a system, then, serves the purpose of enabling audit for the government and not that of blocking services, as the Aadhaar does.

The unbanked may access cash entitlements, loans and grants at the nearest post office branch across the country. The post office would create a Shared ID of the beneficiary to enable audit of the entitlements delivered and to ensure the next time round the person does not have to recreate the id.

Any change of address would be updated by the new post office. The post-office savings account will encourage the unbanked to save through the Shared ID. It will also enable a way to deliver insurance to the beneficiaries.

These alternatives to the Aadhaar will fit Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s minimum government vision and ensure good governance.