Aadhaar enrollment in Assam drags at 6.5%

An Aadhaar Promotion

The total number of Aadhaar cards issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India has reached 112.25 cr or 1.122 bln as of the beginning of this month, but enrollments in the border state of Assam trail at 6.5%, according to numbers provided by the UIDAI.

The total number suggests that about 86% of India’s estimated current population — including children and infants — have already been numbered under the project.

While states like Haryana, Telangana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab lead in the sign-up process, enrollment at India’s Assam province — home to a large number of unauthorized migrants from Bangladesh — has barely kicked off.

The total number of cards issued in Assam as of February was only 21.48 lakh, which represents about 6.5% of the border state’s estimated population.

Overall, the enrollment rates in north eastern states is well below that of the national average. Meghalaya, another state that shares its borders with Bangladesh, has seen 2.79 lakh Aadhaar cards issued, which is about 8.5% of the state’s population.

Aadhaar cards are much sought after by illegal residents in the country as it is almost equivalent to getting citizenship, and practically entitles them to a variety of government subsidies and schemes.

Other north eastern states, however, have enrollment rates of above 50%, with Tripura leading at 93.5% and Sikkim at 91.5%.

Aadhaar numbers, which are increasingly being used for identifying the beneficiaries of government schemes, are issued via state governments, central government ministries, banks and public sector organizations and are available on demand in most states. By February next year, the number will become a prerequisite to have a mobile phone connection.

Though the Supreme Court has said that the state cannot force its citizens to take Aadhaar numbers, most citizens have taken the number without which getting state allowances and subsidies has become difficult.