Yet another Card - a wildcard or a joker?
Government after government, citizens have been bombarded with a new series of cards. All these cards in the past had a similar proposition - being able to serve as a one point identity. We had ration cards, voters cards (where we looked like goons, to match the faces of the people we elect, beyond our own recognition), PAN card (a single identity for financial transactions).
And now a new baby - UID. What's different though is that this time around the government has a celebrity endorsement for it.. Mr. Nilekani.
Benefit state - whats the benefit for the working middle class?
The UID promises jobs, health insurance and freebies for the poorest of the poor.. nice.. perhaps it would help the government implement archaic steps like caste based resevations too!
But what's in it for the people who pay for all these free candies through their nose? And with most of the time benefits flowing out like a fish served daily, rather than teaching the person to fish.
If you were to closely analyze, there is hardly anything for those of us who form the "source of income" for the government. It may infact help the govt to exploit us further by levying as many types of taxes as possible and targeting it to the exact demographic.
A govt. that has a reputation of so many scams can not be trusted to be noble enough to handle our data quite well, even with a pin-up poster-boy Nilekani.
How serious is the government on this project?
The article explains it all that the UPA has done a budget cut of over 50% to fund ministries held by its coalition partners... Ahemm.
A do-it-yourself reality check.. Visit the UID website - www.uidai.gov.in
With the project gone live, any citizen being able to find his nearest registration centre deserves a government reward. To cut the riddle short, you will find an ambitious link out there saying "How to get an Aadhar?" and here is what it reads as on 21 May 2011
Upon registering for Aadhaar, residents will go through a biometric scanning of ten fingerprints and iris. They will then be photographed and given an enrolment number upon completion. Depending on the enrolment agency, residents will be issued an Aadhaar number within 20 to 30 days.
Can you really trust a department that cannot manage a database of its registration centers on their own website to really manage a mammoth database of its citizens?
That brings us to the main concern----
How safe is my identity with the Bharat Sarkar?
Nandan Nilekani may have been handpicked to form the face of the project, bypassing the usual IAS babudom factory. However vendors and partners are still chosen by the tendering process, where vendors that find favors in the government stand a good chance to grab the project rather than a competent company. Even with stretched pricing, which is a prerequisite of the tendering process (add to that the goodies that need to go back in cash) - the best of the companies would be forced to cut corners.
There have been headlines earlier of certain government websites, where registered user details including user names and passwords were available through a public URL.. (sigh! even hackers would feel frustrated since they need not hack)
With our friendly neighborhood countries wanting to use Cyber attacks (read China's new art of war) to destabilize the country, there is a lot at stake. It would take just one unscrupulous govt employee to even sell the data to telemarketers and spamsters.
There is hope still .. since thankfully the government has kept registration as a purely voluntary process... UIDo or UIDont is purely your choice. :-)