While the government has made Aadhaar cards mandatory for most of its services, senior citizens are left at a disadvantage when it comes to linking their Aadhaar number to their mobile number or PAN card. In many cases, a senior citizen’s fingerprint impressions might not be recognisable which will leave them in a lurch, says Sailesh Mishra, founder of the NGO Silver Innings that aims to provide basic services to the elderly and their family.
"Recently, I was at the Vodafone store in Mira Road, Mumbai, for linking my mobile number to the Aadhaar card. I saw an old woman with her relative, who had come for the same purpose. Despite several attempts to link her Aadhaar card to her SIM card, her fingerprints were not read by the machine. She was warned her Aadhaar card could get blocked if she kept trying and she left the store, sad and frustrated,” says Mishra.
“Now her only option is to go to the Aadhaar center and get her finger prints updated. Why can’t there be services in housing societies, homes and institutions for both, senior citizens and the disabled so that they can link their Aadhaar cards without facing any hassles," he adds.
In another case, a Mira Road resident, R.G. Patel said he was unable to get his parents’ Aadhaar cards as their fingerprints and retina could not be read by the machine. Both of them are old and also suffer from cataract.
For cataract patients, their retina cannot be recognised by the machine as there is clouding of the lens of the eyes. "So how are such senior citizens supposed to apply for an Aadhaar card. Given the new rules, how will they be able to access basic facilities," asks Mishra. The only concession senior citizens are being given is that they don’t need an Aadhaar card to avail concessions in train tickets, according to a statement made by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.