With each additional linkage of Aadhaar card to a service, are we moving closer to an Orwellian world?

Good friend Prabhat alerted me to this development:

The railways will soon move towards Aadhaar-based online ticketing system to prevent touts from blocking bulk tickets, end fraudulent bookings and curb cases of impersonation.

Aadhaar number has been made mandatory for senior citizens to avail concessions in train tickets from April 1. A three-month trial run for this is going on.

As per the new business plan 2017-18, unveiled by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday, besides the Aadhaar-based ticketing system, the railways will move towards cashless ticketing system by installing 6,000 point-of-sale machines and 1,000 automatic ticket vending machines across the country.

An integrated ticketing app will also be launched by May to promote cashless transaction.

 “Aadhaar number will be required for one-time registration at the IRCTC ticketing site. The step is aimed at eliminating touts from registering with fake identities,” a senior Railway Ministry official said, adding the Railways were preparing a software for the purpose.

Despite taking several steps, touts corner bulk tickets and sell those at much higher prices and this is becoming a serious problem for the railways.

The story is quite similar to the currency one where cash is being seen as an evil due to terrorism, counterfeiting etc. For railways, it is touts!

Aadhaar which means foundation has ceased to be mere foundation. In construction parlance,  Aadhaar has become pretty much everything: cement, sand, bricks etc.

This is how State surveillance over a person starts. People are tricked into giving up their privacy in the name of some or the other threat. This very information is later used by State against persons.

It has been brilliantly shown by George Orwell in 1984 (a book I read only recently). With each such linkage by Aadhaar, we could just be moving closer and closer to an Orwellian world. In a country, where all privacy laws are anyways so pathetic we need a public debate before the problem becomes too large to unwind…

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