Ranjana, the UID of Aadhaar

Scheme launched from Maharashtra tribal village

Ranjana, the UID  of Aadhaar

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi  present one of the first unique identification cards to a tribal family during a function in Tembhali village in Maharashtra. AFP

Not many had heard of Tembhali till September 29, when the tiny village in Nandurbar district in north Maharashtra, bordering Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat entered the books of history as the launch pad of the prestigious unique identification number (UID). The UIDAI aims to provide Indian residents with an unique 12-digit identification number that will serve multiple purposes.

While the1,098 residents of Tembhali were unclear about why their village was receiving a makeover, they were not complaining about it. Roads were freshly asphalted, buildings now have a fresh coat of paint, and water pumps were suddenly working, all in just 10 days. The residents were virtually clueless about what was happening in the village as the officials scurried about to arrange the function. Only on the D-Day, hours before the event, were they told that some of them would be getting Aadhar cards. 

 On hand to give away UID or Aadhar cards to a select group of people were Prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President and United Progressive Alliance Chairman Sonia Gandhi. The choice of Tembhali for launching the programme
perhaps lies in Sonia Gandhi launching her political career from the district a dozen years ago.

A mother-son duo of this village was among the first residents of the country to get the Unique Identification Number. Ranjana Sonawane (31) has got her UID no 7824 7431 7884, while her five-year old son Hitesh has been assigned UID No 6055 8059 8615.
When her name was called out to collect the card, an overawed Ranjana was too scared to climb the rostrum to collect the card with the august gathering on the dais and thousands in front, who had gathered. Besides, Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, Maharashtra Governor Shankarnarayanan, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and the UID project chief Nilekani were waiting to greet her. Finally, the woman, who along with her husband works as casual workers construction sites and on farm, mustered courage to collect the card from the Prime Minister. 

She had never imagined in her wildest dreams that a day will come when she will be invited to stand along side the prime minister to pose for a photograph. A confused Ranjana touched feet of both Singh and Sonia Gandhi, before leaving the platform.

Her son, Hitesh was too young to enjoy the limelight and was dumbfounded by what was happening around him. Just five, he was a picture of confidence. He was the darling of TV crews and lensmen. He was, it was clear, tutored by the local Congressmen. Without even realising what he was doing, he parroted: “I am grateful to Soniaji for giving me this card.”

The mother and son could well become the face of UID project, much like Kalawati, the farm widow had became the face of Vidarbha after Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi met her during his visit. Whether the Congress reaps the dividends of the programme or not, the poor will. Take the case of teenaged tribal Bhuri Rohidas Mali, who had made many visits to a bank to open an account, without success. The bank insisted on proof of identify. The officials were not ready to accept her family’s ration card as there have been a large number of bogus cards in the area. But, now Bhuri can open the account with her UID number 2955 7714 7966.

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