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Sunday, July 22, 2018

To Link or Not to Link

The Aadhaar deadline might have been extended, but, heck, does that make for any less trouble?

Written by Zainab Sulaiman | Updated: March 25, 2018 1:00:13 am
The Aadhaar deadline might have been extended, but, heck, does that make for any less trouble? A friend, meanwhile, tells me that he’s glad he waited for the Supreme Court’s stay before he linked his Aadhaar to his bank account. (Illustration: Manali Ghosh)

The folks at Paytm, however, don’t seem to know of the Supreme Court’s directive as they have stopped allowing me to use their services till I link my Aadhaar to them, a low blow I personally feel, as no one else I know seems to be facing this yet. Is it my name? The Muslim connection? Do I care? Naah! I just want to be able to book tickets for the next show of that Bollywood superhit packed tight with cheap misogynist jokes and gutter talk that I can’t wait to watch, so please, outta my way.

A friend, meanwhile, tells me that he’s glad he waited for the Supreme Court’s stay before he linked his Aadhaar to his bank account. I’m aghast! Was he really going to risk being locked out of his bank for the sake of sharing some lousy details?

Ok, so you want to know my full name, like my real full name? Be warned it has alphabets you rarely come across in day-to-day life, one hyphen, and my last name has a double “D” and a double “Y”: how’s that for useful information? As for things like husband’s name and father’s name, one is currently defunct, and the other doesn’t even have a bank account (he’s that underground), so what exactly will you do with such extra information, I really don’t know.

My age is something I might at the most start becoming finicky about, but not yet. Other details such as addresses and pin codes are all a waste of time in my opinion, as if you’re really going to go after me (God forbid!). Then all you need to do is ask my watchman for my whereabouts and he’ll let you know pronto. It’s the casual stuff I worry about, like what my help is telling the other residents in the building about my toilet habits, or just how I’ve managed to find myself with over 500 friends on Facebook, only one tenth of whom remotely strike a bell.

Fingerprints and mug shots don’t scare me. Heck, I’m ready to give you so much information you can drown yourself in it for all I care. But in spite of my best efforts to humbly and promptly pass on such information, I am unable to connect all the dots. In my case, the dots are not really dots, but a mix of dashes, exclamations and other hieroglyphics that refuse to recognise each other. My PAN is missing a hyphen, my Aadhaar has one. My poor dad’s name is misspelt in my passport, he’s missing in full from my Aadhaar. I wouldn’t have cared a jot about any of it, but for the unfortunate  fact that I suddenly cannot access my PF account which has all my hard-earned money.

“I’ll do it in one day, madam,” the agent boasts when I finally seek help. He returns defeated, clutching a sheaf of papers, having being informed that his dear madam’s biometric data hasn’t been registered properly and they need her paw prints all over again.

Meanwhile, the kind folks at the Aadhaar office spent days trying to convert my middle name (the one with the hyphen) into appropriate-sounding syllables in Kannada: apparently the system cannot do without this terribly important translation; after all, all those who live in Karnataka must, at least, know how to pronounce their names in Kannada, isn’t it? But the “u” and the “l” that are placed slap bang in the centre of this middle name got the better of them and I was asked never to return.

So, I have turned my attention to pursuing every bank where I have a credit card to hook up with my Aadhaar card, now, God dammit! I am also begging the neighbourhood kirana store guy to come and collect whatever details he wants — I’ll give him a stool sample if he’s game — but just give me my Paytm back, pretty please? After all, we are facing a future where one day we will be hiving off body parts just to prove our identity — “I tell you this kidney is MINE” — so why quibble over pieces of parchment and waste time and energy on such inconsequential matters? Just let me get on with my cashless life, transfer money back and forth from one bank account to another (before some industrialist makes off with it) and I’ll give you what you want. Except my money. And the kids. Not strictly in that order, perhaps.

PS: The author of this piece goes by a simpler name in her day-to-day life. What?
Zainab Sulaiman is an author and special educator. She leads HR at a sports company in Bangalore.

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