In what may be a major victory in curbing corruption and leakage of funds, the HRD ministry’s decision to make Aadhar card mandatory to avail mid day meals has reportedly exposed a whopping 4.4 lakh fake students who only existed on paper in the three states of Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Jharkhand.
It means that various state run schools in the above three states, which provided the mid-day meal facility, were showing to have enrolled 4.4 lakh non-existent students so that they could get more funds from the Center and State governments which were then possibly siphoned off or misused by the school authorities.
In case of Andhra Pradesh there are such 2.1 lakh students whose enrollment now stands cancelled. There were 2.2 lakh such students in Jharkhand and 1500 students in Manipur.
As limited number of states have shared their data, the authorities are yet to ascertain the true extent of the rot. As many as 10.3 crore children in this country avail the mid-day meal facility.
This exercise would save the funds of both the Center and State Governments as in case of mid-day meals the center pays 60% of the funds and rest is borne by the states. This ratio is 90:10 in case of NE states.
The advantage of linking Aadhar hasn’t just helped in case of the students. In 2014 after the integration of Aadhar in Kerala, the state’s education board found that there were as many as 3,892 excessive teachers in the state. A hiring freeze ensued.
Though the government has made Aadhar mandatory, it doesn’t mean that the kids who don’t have an Aadhar card would be refused meals. This was made clear by the HRD minister Prakash Javdekar in the Parliament.
There have long been reports about how the linking of Aadhar for availing LPG and PDS subsidy has ensured plugging of leakages of funds. Reports have also claimed that the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme has saved the Modi government 15,000 crores which can potentially rise to 70,000 crores.
While Aadhar may have some genuine privacy issues linked to it, there is no denial that if used properly, it can eradicate many forms of corruption.