Come October and the government will begin transferring the subsidy for cooking gas cylinders for 140 million consumers to their bank accounts. The plan is to link these accounts with Aadhaar identity numbers and get rid of so-called ghost consumers.
The move will need all the luck it can muster. Experience has shown that the slow pace of opening bank accounts is the main challenge for the project to take off. In Kotkasim in Rajasthan, the pace of transfers was slow and the number of people targeted low because of banking glitches.
At the moment, the number of Aadhaar cards issued far outstrips new bank accounts. Although 320 million Aadhaar cards have been issued, less than 10 million accounts have been linked to these identity numbers. Given the pace at which officialdom works, it will be a miracle if all these accounts can be generated and linked to Aadhaar numbers.