The UIDAI spent a total of 142 crore till date on publicity to promote Aadhaar enrollments. The UIDAI also spent 7.82 crore rupees following the Supreme Court directions to publicize that obtaining Aadhaar is not mandatory. But the advertisements issued by UIDAI actually promote Aadhaar in the guise of publicizing that obtaining Aadhaar is voluntary.
So how much did the UIDAI spend so far on publicity to promote Aadhaar? According to the data provided in response to a RTI application, UIDAI spent a total of 142.14 crore rupees (till November 2015) on publicity of Aadhaar asking people to enroll. So how does this amount compare to the amount spent by UIDAI following the recent Supreme Court directions?
The Supreme Court recently directed the Government (UIDAI) to give wide publicity in the electronic and print media including radio and television networks that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar card.
The Supreme Court Directions
The Supreme Court was dealing with a bunch of petitions filed against the government’s push to make Aadhaar mandatory and its use for various schemes. While the bench referred the issue of ‘Right to Privacy’ being a fundamental right or not to a larger bench, it passed orders making it clear that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory. The Court said that Aadhaar is not mandatory for citizens and the government should give wide publicity to this extent. It also said that the production of Aadhaar will not be a condition for obtaining any benefits from the Government. Aadhaar will not be used for any purpose other than PDS, LPG etc.
The amount spent on publicity of Aadhaar to promote enrollments
The UIDAI spent 18.6 crore in 2010-11. It spent the highest the following year (34.98 crore). In 2012-13, it spent 29.43 crore and 31.82 crore in 2013-14. In 2014-15, it spent 22.85 crore. In 2015-16, it spent only 4.46 crore till November 2015.
Did the UIDAI show equal interest in publicizing that Aadhaar is voluntary?
Following the SC directions, the UIDAI released a spate of advertisements on print, electronic and outdoor media. As per the response to the RTI application, UIDAI spent a total of 7.82 crore in publicizing that Aadhaar is not mandatory.
This translates to around 5.5% of the amount spent on publicity to promote Aadhaar enrollments. While the amount spent looks high, there is a catch. The advertisements issued for publicizing that Aadhaar is not mandatory actually promote it.
Advertisements issued for publicizing that Aadhaar is not mandatory actually promote it
The advertisements issued by the UIDAI while mentioning that it is not mandatory for a citizen to obtain an Aadhaar Card highlight that it is a lifelong identity and that it is the right of the common man. In other words, the advertisements issued actually promote Aadhaar in the guise of publicizing that it is voluntary.