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HindustanTimes Sat,29 Nov 2014

First Aadhaar card owner struggles for a living

Pravin Nair, Hindustan Times  Tembhli, Nandurbar, April 20, 2014
First Published: 15:32 IST(20/4/2014) | Last Updated: 15:42 IST(20/4/2014)

She got the country's first Aadhaar card. But after around four years, Ranjana Sonawane is disillusioned. "We have no money. No jobs. Just a card," she says. "How will I eke out a living with a card?"
 
On September 29, 2010, Ranjana and nine other tribal residents of Tembhli village in Nandurbar district, Maharashtra, were given the cards at the launch of the Aadhaar programme by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
 
The objective of providing a unique 12-digit identity number to the citizens was to ensure better delivery of social security schemes.
 
Asked if she would go to Sonia Gandhi's rally in Nandurbar, Ranjana says, "I would like to meet her, but will she see me?"
 
This was before the Congress president cancelled her trip to Maharashtra on Sunday due to health concerns.
 
"Instead," Ranjana says, "why don't you write about my plight? May be she [Sonia Gandhi] will read it and do something."
 
Ranjana wants good education for her three sons so that they can get decent jobs. Her eldest son is in Class 7 and studies in a school some distance away.
 
The younger two study in a small school near the family's house. While one is in Class 5, the other in Class 3. Ranjana says there is just one teacher for students of classes 1 to 5.
 
Ranjana admits that she got a house under the Indira Vikas Yojana in a cluster down the road. But she adds her family cannot live there. According to her, there is just one small room and no electricity or water.
 
The huts in which she stays stood out from the other huts in the village. It is slightly bigger and the top half of the walls has a blue coat of paint.
 
A steady stream of journalists has been visiting her ever since her brief moment of fame in 2010.
 
But, Ranjana says a little has changed in her life. She makes some money stitching clothes for the women in the area. "It's not much. I get Rs. 20 for stitching a blouse."
 
She and her husband Sadashiv Sonawane say the family's prime source of income is a small stall of cutlery and clothes at village fairs.
 
They move from fair to fair for four months of the year. Rest of the year, they live rely on what they manage to save.
 
Ranjana hopes Sonia Gandhi or the Congress government will help her set up a small business or may be a shop.
 
Asked about BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Ranjana and Sadashiv say they have seen him on TV "but we wonder what he will do".
 
They, however, know Modi rules Gujarat — a state where people from their village migrate to work in sugarcane fields.
 
Ranjana is tired, she says, and refuses to pose with her Aadhaar card (number 782474317884). She has locked it away in a box.

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But, her photograph with the prime minister and the Congress president has a special place in her home. It's hung right up there with photographs of Hindu deities.


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