UID - 'Aadhaar' was touted out as a transformational initiative - one that would change the face of India, make it the most digitised nation in the world, with the biggest data base of demographic information anywhere and so forth. But four years post launch, Aadhaar seems to have hit a rough patch.
The Aadhaar project has had its fair share of controversy. While the Planning Commission - of which UIDAI is an attached body was the first to raise objections about administrative matters, the project entered into a fierce battle with the Union home ministry's Registrar General of India - which is creating a National Population Registrar - on the issue of collecting biometrics.
But last week, the decision of the government to suspend direct benefit transfers in cooking gas subsidy - one of the biggest showcases for UID-based payment system in the wake of ground level implementation challenges might be the death nail in the coffin for Aadhaar. But the government has said that they are complying with the Supreme Court's order. The SC had passed an interim order last year stating that no one should suffer due to unavailability of Aadhaar. The matter is still pending in the Supreme Court.
However not all is lost for Aadhaar. UIDAI has done very well when it comes to meeting its enrolment target. It has already covered 572 m people and will soon touch the 600 m mark - a target it had set for itself when it first started. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also recently asked banks to put in place the infrastructure required to make sure that Aadhaar-based biometrics can be used as an additional factor of authentication for card transactions. Gujarat chief minister and BJP's prime-ministerial candidate Narendra Modi recently took stock of Aadhaar project in Gujarat and pushed for it to be fast-tracked. This seems like the biggest hope for the project right now.