The Union Home Ministry has made Aadhar a legal document to travel to neighboring countries of Nepal and Bhutan for Indians aged under 15 and over 65. Earlier PAN card, Driving License, Central Government Health Service card and ration card were legal documents to travel to these countries. The Indian citizens who want to travel to Bhutan or Nepal do not need a visa if they have a passport or election ID card issued by Election Commission of India, or photo identity card issued by the government of India.
“Now, persons in the age group of over 65 years and below 15 years have been allowed to use Aadhaar as a valid travel document,” said senior Home Ministry official. The certificate of registration issued by the Embassy of India, Kathmandu is not an acceptable travelling document between both countries. “However, the emergency certificate and identity certificate issued by the Indian Embassy in Nepal will be valid for a single journey for travelling back to India,” said the official.
The teens aged between 15 to 18 will be allowed to travel between India and Nepal on the basis of school identity certificate by principal in prescribed form but the family members must have any legal document like PAN card, Driving License, Central Government Health Service card or ration card.
Indians travelling to Bhutan could stay there on the basis of Indian passport with minimum six months validity or identity card issued by Election Commission of India. Bhutan has more than 60,000 Indian nationals employed in construction and hydroelectric power industry. Bhutan shares its border with Indian states of Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal.
Nepal shares its border with five Indian states Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The small landlocked country shares 1,850 km long land border with India. There are many Indian professionals and labourers (including seasonal/migratory) working in Nepal.
Earlier in June 2017, “Aadhaar (UID) card is not an acceptable travel document for travel to Nepal/Bhutan,” said a communiqué issued by the Union Home Ministry. At that ministry has also discontinued the practice of departure card. “It has been decided to discontinue the practice of filling up of the departure card by Indians at all international airports with effect from July 1, 2017,” said the ministry.
Aadhar card has been criticized by many people on the left side of the political spectrum. They feared that the country is on its way to become surveillance state through Aadhar card. The activist also accused that private data of individuals is not safe in the hands of the government. However, the Supreme Court of India validated the use of Aadhar card for government schemes and programs. Aadhar has proved useful in enhancing the security of the country, efficient delivery of welfare programs, and security verification for products like SIM card, and other digital services.
In future, Aadhar card could be used for Universal Basic Income (UBI) which is being debated among the policy circles of the country and has got supporters like former chief economic advisor, Arvind Subramanian. Aadhar card has been hugely beneficial to the government of India as well as citizens of the country. In future, it could be used for other government programs too.
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