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How a Glitch in India's Biometric Welfare System Can Be Lethal

– The Guardian

Guardian journalist Rebecca Ratcliffe, based in Dumka, investigates how errors in Aadhaar are leading to suffering and even cases of starvation

This investigation by Guardian journalist Rebecca Ratcliffe looks into the human impact of errors in Aadhaar - India’s national biometric and digital identity program.

Ratcliffe describes a number of incidents where mistakes in the centralized server are directly linked to cases of starvation, and how some families are now - eventually - accessing the right support.

“If there’s a fault in the system, access to an array of support can abruptly halt,” Ratcliffe explains.

“‘Decisions about you are made by a centralized server, and you don’t even know what has gone wrong,’ said Reetika Khera, an associate professor of economics at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. ‘People don’t know why [welfare support] has stopped and they don’t know who to go to to fix the problem.’”

Activists have tracked 13 cases in Jharkhand where people who were refused support due to Aadhaar glitches have allegedly died of starvation. One was an 11-year-old girl. The death of Santoshi Kumari, whose family’s ration card was cancelled because it was not linked to Aadhaar, shocked the country in 2017

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