Fact Checking government claims over use of Technology

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In an infographic put out by the government, there are certain claims made pertaining to the use of technology to boost transparency and in turn eliminating corruption. Here is a fact check of these claims.

In an infographic put out by the government, there are certain claims made pertaining to the use of technology to boost transparency and in turn eliminating corruption. Here is a fact check of these claims.

Claim 1: More than 3.5 lakh crore transferred to beneficiaries through DBT
The first claim is that over Rs 3,65,996 crore have been directly transferred into the bank accounts of beneficiaries for 431 schemes in last 4 years. The Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) website describes the DBT and its vision.

It mentions, ‘With the aim of reforming Government delivery system by re-engineering the existing process in welfare schemes for simpler and faster flow of information/funds and to ensure accurate targeting of the beneficiaries, de-duplication and reduction of fraud Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) was started on 1st January, 2013. DBT Mission was created in the Planning Commission to act as the nodal point for the implementation of the DBT programmes. The Mission was transferred to the Department of Expenditure in July, 2013 and continued to function till 14.9.2015. To give more impetus, DBT Mission and matters related thereto has been placed in Cabinet Secretariat from September 2015.’ In other words, the DBT initiative was started by the UPA-2 government and is being carried on & expanded by the current government.

The list of schemes that are covered under the direct benefit transfer scheme is given on the DBT website. This list now includes 464 schemes & services (out of a total of 1131) from 57 ministries (out of a total of 74 ministries). The list is dynamic and new schemes keep getting added or the existing ones get taken out.  As of October, 2018, a cumulative amount of more than Rs 4.6 lakh crore have been transferred to the beneficiaries via DBT. Detailed reports of the transfer amounts and schemes are also available online on the website.

Claim: Over 3,65,996 crores rupees have been directly transferred into the bank accounts of beneficiaries for 432 schemes in last 4 years.

Fact: More than Rs 4.6 lakh crore have been transferred into the accounts of people availing 464 schemes and services from 57 different ministries. Hence, the claim is TRUE. But it has to be noted that the DBT initiative was started during the UPA-2 government.

Claim 2: Aadhaar given legislative framework
The second claim is that Aadhaar has been given legislative framework. The Aadhaar (targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) act has been passed in 2016.

The Supreme Court in its verdict in September 2018, upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar but, struck down some of its provisions. The Supreme Court struck down section 57 of the Act meaning that only the government can use Aadhaar and that too for the specific purpose of welfare & subsidies. The court said that linking of Aadhaar to bank accounts & mobile numbers is illegal.  Moreover, private entities are barred from using Aadhaar as a mode of identification.  The national security exception under section 33 has also been struck down, meaning that no identity information or authentication records can be disclosed even for national security reasons. The court also held that CBSE, NEET and UGC cannot make Aadhaar mandatory. The court upheld the linking of Aadhaar with PAN and also directed the government to ensure that illegal migrants are not issued Aadhaar .

Claim: Aadhaar has been given legislative framework

Fact: The Aadhaar act has been passed in 2016 but the Supreme Court struck down some major provisions of the act in 2018. Hence, the claim is PARTIALLY TRUE.

Claim 3: More than 1 crore income tax payers linked their Aadhaar with PAN.
The third claim made is that more than 1 crore income tax payers linked their Aadhaar with PAN. According to an answer given in the Lok Sabha, more than 16.84 crore PAN numbers have been linked with Aadhaar as of March 2018. The number is higher than the claim because of the dynamic nature in which these details are collected and updated. However, it is important to note that all those people that have linked their PAN to Aadhaar need not necessarily be income tax payers. There is no other data available in the public domain to check how many income tax payers have linked their PAN to Aadhaar.

Claim:  More than 1 crore income tax payers linked their Aadhaar with PAN.

Fact: Since it has been made mandatory, more than 16.84 crore PANs have been linked to Aadhaar but how many of them are paying tax cannot be verified. Hence, the claim is UNVERIFIED.

Claim 4: Online Platform for Government Procurement
Government e-Marketplace (GEM) platform for government procurement from vendors was launched in 2017. As published in the gazette of India, in December 2017, the government of India (allocation of business) rules, 1961 have been amended to allow for ‘development, operation and maintenance of national public procurement portal – Government e-Marketplace.’ The online platform has aggregate details of the transactions made.  However, the details of the procurements of previous years for a comparative analysis are not available.

Claim: GEM online platform for government procurement from vendors to reduce corruption and increase transparency

Fact: The platform has been made operational. The contribution of the platform to reducing corruption and increasing transparency cannot be verified. Hence, the claim is UNVERIFIED.

This story is part of a larger series on the 4-years of the Modi government. This series has been made possible with the flash grant of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN). Read the rest of the stories in this series here.

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