Prime minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched the “Jeevan Pramaan” project, a digital version of the “life certificate” scheme that could eventually benefit 10 million claimants. The biometric-based software means pensioners will now no longer have to visit banks every year to give proof of their being alive to continue receiving benefits. Around 50 lakh people draw pension from the central government, and an equal number from state and UT governments. Several PSUs also provide pensions, and over 25 lakh retirees draw pensions from the armed forces. The software will be made available to pensioners and other stakeholders on a large scale at no extra cost. It can be operated on a personal computer or smartphone, along with an “inexpensive” biometric reading device.
The facility will also be made available at common service centres being operated under the National e-Governance Plan for the benefit of pensioners in inaccessible areas. The pensioner’s details, including date, time, and biometric information will be uploaded to a central database on real-time basis, ultimately enabling the pension disbursing agency to access a Digital Life Certificate. The Aadhaar-based certificate will go a long way in reducing hardships undergone by many senior citizens to produce a Life Certificate every year, the IT department said. After the push towards self-certification, this is another enabling mechanism for the benefit of the common man.
The recourse to these measures shows that Modi’s idea of development extends well beyond “big ticket” reforms to embrace the middle class. The use of Aadhaar shows why he insisted on continuing the project although some in his party wanted it to be scrapped since it was started by the previous government. But Modi saw its scientific benefits. The wide use of technology in these and other initiatives will also spread the scientific temper and accelerate the entry of more people into the modern age.