What Bill Gates had to say in defence of Aadhaar

Aadhaar benefits are very high and governments across the world should embrace such technology, he had said in 2010.

Published: 26th September 2018 09:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2018 05:50 PM   |  A+A-

Bill Gates. (File photo | AP)

Bill Gates. (File photo | AP)

By Online Desk

It was in Maharasthra's Tembhli village about eight years ago that Aadhaar was first unveiled by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairman Sonai Gandhi on September 29, 2010. The first Aadhaar could well have been a random number. 782474317884 went to Ranjana Sonawne, a daily wager who used to supplement her income by selling toys.

From there, it has been a rocky ride for the universal id, whose validity now been upheld by the Supreme Court, but with conditions.

Mobile phone companies, schools and banks cannot now insist on Aadhaar, which though will now be needed for PAN and IT returns.

Justice Sikri, who read out the majority judgment of the Supreme Court that had the support of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice Ashok Khanwilkar, echoed many views that the not-so-likely big-name supporter from the tech world of Aadhaar Bill Gates had previously shared.

"The benefits of that (basic ID - Aadhaar) are very high," Gates, who runs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, had said on May 3, 2018. It was reflected in Justice Sikri's judgement which talked of how Aadhaar empowered the marginalised.

The Microsoft founder had then gone so far as to suggest that governments across the world should embrace such technology. "Yes, countries should adopt that approach because the quality of governance has a lot to do with how quickly countries are able to grow their economy and empower their people," he had said in response to a question posed then.

Gates had also revealed that his foundation had "funded the World Bank to take this Aadhaar approach to other countries."

He quickly had wave aside concerns of any information leaks too, stating that "Aadhaar in itself doesn't pose any privacy issue because it's just a bio ID verification scheme." This again was something the Supreme Court's majority judgement echoed when they said that Aadhar's information was stored in silos and safe.

The one-time tech czar might have been happy with the way banks in India have used Aadhaar data. 

"The individual applications that use Aadhaar, you have to look and see what's been stored and who has access to that information. And so, application by application, you have to make sure that's well managed. In the case of the financial bank account I think it's handled very well," the soon-to-be-63-year-old billionaire had said.

But the Supreme Court on Wednesday did not feel the need to let the banks handle the biometric data.


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