Why Indian Politicians Need to Use Aadhar

08.11.2017 • India

Vivek Kaul – Vivek Kaul’s Diary (India) –

Do you know Ankit Gupta? I don’t.

If I don’t know him, why am I talking about him?

I am talking about him because I get a mail from him every day to link my Aadhar card to all my bank accounts. While the mail has his name, it basically comes from the private sector bank, I primarily deal with.

The mail goes on to point: “As per Government of India Gazette No. 13012/79/2017/Legal-UIDAI (No. 4 of 2017), it is mandatory to link your Aadhaar card to all your bank accounts. Please ensure you do it at the earliest so that your account remains active.” Nowhere does the mail say that the last date to do so is December 31, 2017.

And if this weren’t enough, I also get mails from mobile service provider to link my mobile number to my Aadhar card. These mails are slightly less aggressive than the ones being sent out by the private bank I deal with.

It is almost impossible to carry out any transaction with the government without an Aadhar card. If there is a birth an Aadhar card is needed. If someone dies an Aadhar card is needed, as well.

In fact, when the Aadhar card was first introduced it was claimed that “it is a voluntary facility”. But that is not how things have eventually turned out to be. As Jean Dreze writes in his new book Sense and Solidarity-Jholawala Economics for Everyone: “A tacit understanding quickly emerged that while Aadhar was voluntary in principle, it was due to become essential for everyone who wanted to function – get a driving licence, transfer property, have a civil marriage, or just get paid as an NREGA worker. In short, frankly speaking, it was compulsory.”

In fact, in my case, I got an Aadhar card finally made, when applying for an ISBN for my book India’s Big Government. An Aadhar was compulsory. You couldn’t apply for an ISBN without an Aadhar card. Why is an Aadhar card necessary to apply for an ISBN for a book? What is the connect? What is the government trying to achieve through this? These are questions I am still asking myself.

While ordinary citizens, like you and I, need to keep showing and linking our Aadhar card everywhere, the same does not apply to politicians and political parties while seeking political donations. In his new book How the BJP Wins-Inside India’s Greatest Election Machine, Prashant Jha goes into detail on how political parties raise money to fight elections.

First and foremost, the candidate fighting the election needs to be economically strong, invest his own money and at the same time have networks with local businessmen who are willing to finance his electoral campaign. Of course, the businessmen who finance candidates do so in cash.

As Jha writes: “Major state-level businessmen are the second source of funding. And they contribute in various forms. They give cash – this is particularly true for contractors, builders, those dependent on government largesse and licenses in future.”

In fact, some state level political parties, auction seats to the highest bidder. So, other than needing cash to fight an election, the prospective candidate also needs cash to get a ticket in the first place.

The cash that is handed over by businessmen to politicians to fight elections is likely to be black money, more often than not. And this is how black money finances Indian politics. If black money finances politics, it also needs to be generated in the first place. This explains to a large extent why black money is such an important part of real estate transactions.

Unless, political funding is cleaned up, the menace of black money in the society won’t come to an end. The question is how can this happen? The simple and the only answer is: a political will.

If the idea is to eliminate black money, why aren’t donations to political parties linked to Aadhar. In fact, to take this argument even further, why are political parties allowed to collect donations in cash, in this day and age. If the idea is to encourage digital transactions, why can’t PM Modi and the BJP, set an example on this front and ensure that the BJP takes only digital donations.

This will force other political parties to do so as well. Of course, this will not solve the problem totally, but it will make things a little more transparent, as far as political donations go. For starters, if political parties are looking to cook their accounting books, they will at least need a lot of Aadhar numbers, for the part of their funding that they choose to declare.

Dear Reader, as you would know, November 8, has been declared to be anti-black money day. To ensure that the menace of black money goes away in the years to come, we are running a campaign on making Aadhar compulsory for all political donations. Nearly 7,000 people have already signed in support of the campaign and done their bit. So, can you.

-Read more at www.equitymaster.com-

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