Village youth makes Aadhaar Card ‘free’ for villagers
Located at a distance of about 20 km from Samastipur district headquarters, villagers in Bedoulia lack access to some of the most basic government services. The long history of nonresponsive bureaucracy in Bedoulia village of Bazitpur Gram Panchayat (village council) has made villagers immune to the situation. They do not complain about the poor service delivery under government programs. Villagers of Bedoulia usually leave it up to the mukhiya (head of village council) to file a complaint to get issues resolved. If mukhiyas are active, they take people’s grievances forward; otherwise, villagers are left without recourse.
In early November, an agency set up its stall in the village for enrolling people under the Aadhaar card scheme, a government scheme to allot a unique identification number to each Indian citizen. Around 30 villagers lined up to make their Aadhaar cards. Jitender was among them. The agency officials in charge of enrolling people for Aadhaar cards asked applicants to deposit a fee of Rs 60 per person for registration.
Jitender was not sure whether there was a fee for enrollment for an Aadhaar card. His doubts over the legitimacy of the fee made him call Dharmendra Singh, who works at Sehgal Foundation as a local area coordinator of Samastipur.
Dharmendra informed Jitender that government charges no fee for making Aadhaar cards. The NGO worker advised him to inform the village mukhiya and the block development officer about the corrupt practice of wrongful fee collection.
Jitender complained about the agency’s corrupt practice at both places. He also made a video, in which agency officials were asking for Rs 60 fee to enroll villagers for Aadhaar cards and mailed the video clip to the Ranchi state office. In addition, he posted the clip on Facebook and YouTube channels.
As a result, within one week, a team from the Ranchi office visited the village, conducted an inquiry, and cancelled the contract of the deputed agency.
Jitender’s wise move of contacting the NGO worker for information led him to stop the agency from befooling villagers. In this endeavor, he exposed corruption in the government’s Aadhaar card scheme and helped villagers to obtain their Aadhaar cards free of cost.