A 65-year-old woman from India has lost her $16-per-month pension for not being able to submit fingerprints and iris scans to the country’s biometric database aka Aadhaar. The woman couldn’t comply with the government’s requirement because she lost her eyes and fingers to leprosy.
In August, authorities submitted a letter to the leprosy center that is taking care of her announcing them that she won’t receive her pension of 1,000 rupees unless she is able to identify herself via a card tied to the biometric database.
Without her limbs and sight, the woman cannot submit the required data and she is virtually condemned to death.
Aadhaar which translates as “foundation” is the country’s biometric database that includes personal info on 1.17 billion Indians. Each person has a unique 12-digit code tied to their fingerprints and iris scans. Every Indian that lives and works in the country must submit the information to the system.
The Indian government first started the biometric data collection in 2009. Without an Aadhaar card and a bank account, people cannot get their benefits and pensions. The system needs fingerprints and iris scans to identify a person.
Indian Government’s Reaction
However, the leprosy patient had lost her limbs and cannot provide the data. The leprosy center’s head Dr. Ayub Ali Zai has urged the Indian government to exempt the woman but to no avail. Authorities did not react even when The Indian Express stepped in.
An official replied that the woman can provide other types of biometrics to the machine. He added that only when the system is unable to read the biometrics, there can be an exemption.
There are cases where leprosy patients have got Aadhaar with whatever is left of their biometrics,
the official said.
According to WHO data, around 200,000 Indians are diagnosed with leprosy each year. Dr. Zai told reporters that many of his other patients face a similar problem as they are no longer able to submit the biometric data.
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