How the Point of Sale (PoS) based Aadhaar authentication system in the Public Distribution System works? Critically examine the problems faced due to requirement of multiple technologies working in tandem in such transition.

The point of sale (POS) implies the time and place where a retail transaction is done. The merchant calculates the amount to be paid, generates an invoice, and enables the customer to make payment.

Aadhaar based PDS: POS machines are installed at PDS (Public Distribution System) shops. It verifies the identity of the cardholders by matching their thumb impression as secured in the Aadhaar database over the Internet.

In the year 2017, the Government of India mandated the use of the Aadhaar-based public distribution system (PDS) to overcome some problems. It also took an initiative to introduce 20 lakh Aadhaar based POS terminals. But due to some tangled technological complications, the system faced a huge obstacle in the implementation process.

Problems: The initial biggest challenge faced by the government in making the Aadhaar-enabled POS machines is the high cost and reliability. The problem faced by the beneficiaries are

  • It has excluded many beneficiaries
  • It faced some kind of security threat as an end to end encryption is not provided
  • Fingerprints mismatch, wrong input of Aadhaar number, network issues to receive OTP delayed the process of the entire system.
  • Beneficiary dissatisfaction was noticed on the issues of internet connectivity, electricity supply, and bugs in the biometric-recognition software.

Way out: Public distribution system aims at providing adequate subsidized food and non-food items to the needy people. The idea of the PoS based Aadhaar authentication system in the PDS is undoubtedly a good idea to welcome. But a country like India where internet connectivity, electricity, and digital literacy is a big concern, there must be some exceptions too.

The problem will alleviate in the near future as the government is on its way to ratify the exception-handling mechanism to ensure that beneficiaries are not excluded.

Question for UPSC Mains:
How the Point of Sale (PoS) based Aadhaar authentication system in the Public Distribution System works? Critically examine the problems faced due to requirement of multiple technologies working in tandem in such transition.

Published: November 19, 2017 | Modified:August 15, 2020

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