The PMO has recently directed the state governments to do away with smart cards and link all service delivery to Aadhaar. However, the Rajasthan government has decided to go ahead with its Bhamashah card.
Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s flagship Bhamashah financial inclusion-cum-service delivery scheme is based on the biometric authentication like Aadhaar and has the family, instead of the individual, as the central beneficiary.
The card is linked to a bank account and is opened in the name of a female member of the family, thereby, recognising her as the head of the household, unlike the traditional male-headed PDS/ration card systems.
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Using the Bhamashah card, the state government intends to deliver financial as well as non-financial services, including cashless health cover for over 4.5 crore Rajasthanis.
The state government feels that both the cards — Aadhaar and Bhamashah — are complementary to each other and the directive on Aadhaar does not mean an end to Bhamashah.
“For us, Aadhaar means another layer of validation, over and above the Bhamashah card,” state planning secretary Akhil Arora told The Indian Express.
According to him, both the cards will work together to contribute to more efficient last-mile delivery of services offered by the government.
“We have been capturing Aadhaar data for every Bhamashah beneficiary from Day one. That means the beneficiaries’ Aadhaar information will be integrated with the Bhamashah card. Our card takes care of beneficiaries’ privacy concerns as well as concerns regarding change in the family profile,” he said.
Since it’s a family-based card, unlike the individual beneficiary-based Aadhaar, Bhamashah card allows automatic updating of changes in family profile, including addition of new members to the card following marriage or birth.
The PMO directive – issued recently after Aadhaar received legal backing with the passage of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act last month – has asked the state and central departments to do away with issuing new smart cards.
The directive asked state governments and Central departments to review various smart card-based schemes and link all service delivery and welfare schemes to the Aadhaar card.
The order has reportedly got several ministries worried about rolling out smart card-based schemes already planned by them. The government of Rajasthan, however, is not worried about the PMO’s advice.
The Bhamashah card already has 1,16,51,419 families with 4,06,58,247 members registered on the platform.
The government claims the card has already recorded 3,00,52,241 transactions worth over Rs 1,602 crore.
Besides financial inclusion and health cover, the other services to be offered through the Bhamashah platform are NREGA payments, social security and old age pensions, student scholarships, Janani Suraksha Yojana incentive, among others.
With the state government planning to use the Bhamashah and Aadhaar cards in tandem, the ball is now in the PMO’s court.