After August 5, 2019 — when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J&K’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir administration has moved from offline to online mode by offering all the citizen centric services through digital means.
The steps taken by the government during the past three years have brought common people closer to the system with Aadhaar card playing a pivotal role in inculcating the spirit of oneness among all the denizens of the Himalayan region.
The Aadhaar is a prerequisite for availing the online services provided to the common people by the government. The card has become a single identity card for everyone.
Overall Aadhaar saturation across J&K has increased from 81 per cent to 89 per cent from the last one year and till date around 1.21 crore Aadhaars have been generated. The operational Aadhaar centres across the Union Territory have increased from 331 to 1105 and 250 additional enrollment centers are all set to become operational from January 2023.
The Aadhaar is all in one identity proof for every Indian and once a person gets an Aadhaar card no further identity proof is required for any kind of services in the country. Be it airport check in or Ayushman card or bank account or voter Id card and almost every scheme of the Government of India Aadhaar is mandatory.
The Unique Identification provided by the Aadhar is required to get a passport, loan, admission in colleges, SIM card, gas connection, etc.
Former PDP led regime played truant
In 2017 the Jammu and Kashmir government decided to officially recognize the Aadhaar number cards as a valid identity and residence proof for availing various services in the erstwhile state. But the process to enroll the people for Aadhaar cards was carried out at a very tardy pace.
Despite Aadhaar becoming mandatory for all the services to be availed by the citizens, the erstwhile regime led by Mehbooba Mufti didn’t pay much heed towards increasing Aadhaar enrollment Centers, nor were any efforts put in to make Aadhaar a single identity card for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
In 2018, the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development had pulled up J&K’s Education Department for not completing Aadhaar enrollment of school children in the region. The MHRD had provided 200 Aadhaar enrollment machines to the School Education Department but the lackadaisical approach of the officials had disappointed the ministry. The ministry had made the Aadhaar enrollment of students mandatory in order to keep track of students after they complete their graduation. Around 1.3 million students are registered in government schools from primary to higher secondary level schools across J&K.
Not only the School Education Department, none of the government departments that were entrusted with the job to carry forward the process of Aadhaarenrollment were able to deliver due to political rulers being disinterested in the process.
The dispensation led by Peoples Democratic Party had acknowledged that Aadhaar will be a valid identity proof but it didn’t give it a practical shape. The former rulers purposely delayed the Aadhaar enrolment drives as they wanted to send a message to the separatists and Pakistan that they won’t allow J&K people to identify themselves with India.
Height of callous attitude adopted by the former political regime could be gauged from the fact that no proper training was given to the officials to handle Aadhaar recruitment machines.
Enrolment picked after Oct 31, 2019
The Aadhaar enrolment picked up in J&K soon after October 31, 2019, when Jammu and Kashmir started functioning as a Union Territory. The penetration of the unique ID that was the key to government benefits was very low till the Centre scrapped Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution.
The idea behind accelerating the Aadhaar enrolments was to ensure that benefits of welfare schemes reach to all residents.
The Aadhaar since its inception has proven to be a successful tool for the transfer of subsidies and implementation of welfare schemes. The Centre after taking complete control of J&K affairs turned Aadhaar into a most potent instrument to fulfill its commitment of reaching out to the last J&K denizen in the queue.
Till 2019 there were many pockets in the Himalayan region where the Aadhaar penetration was very low due to which the residents of these areas were not getting the benefits which the Centre had reserved for them.
The J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, which came into force in October 2019, facilitated the complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India. It led to all welfare programmes of the Centre getting applied to the erstwhile princely state.
DCs embark on a mission
During the past three years Aadhaar has enabled every resident of J&K to avail any government service in a hassle free manner. Deputy Commissioners of all the 20 districts in J&K have embarked on a mission to take up Aadhaar saturation in mission mode to provide effective and efficient public services to the people.
The administration has formulated a re-deployment plan for optimum utilisation of Aadhaar stations in order to achieve the 100 per cent penetration.
The Deputy Commissioners of all the districts in J&K have been regularly holding the meetings of District Level Aadhaar Monitoring Committee to assess the requirement of additional enrollment and update centres to ensure that uncovered areas are covered.
The J&K administration is all set to start the AadhaarLinked Birth Registration (ALBR) in all district hospitals and subsequently launch the Civil Registration System (CRS) across the Union Territory.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration is also planning to create an authentic database of all families in the UT with each of them having a unique alpha-numeric code – the objective being easy selection of eligible beneficiaries of various social welfare schemes.
Unique ID for J&K families
Each family will be provided with a unique alpha-numeric code called JK Family ID. The data available in the family database would be used to determine eligibility through automatic selection of beneficiaries for receiving social benefits.
To thwart risks and protect sensitive and critical data the government intends to work on an information security policy and also envisages formulation of appropriate cyber security framework.
Once the data in the JK Family ID database is authenticated and verified, a beneficiary will not be required to submit any other document to avail any service.
The idea of integrating J&K people with other citizens of the country through Aadhaar has been an instant hit in the Himalayan region as it has implemented the Right to Equality guaranteed to every Indian citizen under Article 14 of the Constitution in letter and spirit. The Centre during the past three years has strived to inculcate the spirit of nationalism among the J&K people through various means and having a common identity like Aadhar has turned every J&K resident into a proud Indian.