India may be a emerging global power in terms of economy but its HDI shows where it is actually.Many are reeling under poverty,hunger and two fifth of children are underfed in the country according to recent report published by Action Aid-An International Charity .Albeit many social welfare schemes have been launched by the state for poor but the major problem in its implementation and reaching to the beneficiaries is pilferages and few people can prove that they are poor and actual beneficiaries.Many of these problems could be addressed by a Unique Identity Number where one can prove who he is with the help of technology and If we believe that technology-led solutions can enhance governance and transparency in the country.I think we already know the benefits of UID Number.
The current debate around UIDAI Project-its relevance when a similar project is going on under the Ministry of Home affairs(National Population Register-NPR),technology ,security and privacy . The concerns and apprehensions about the project in these matters were part of Report given by standing committee on finance.Some of the major concerns are :
1)Deals with authentication
Its said that the authentication is to be done by using only fingerprints. problems identified in relation to fingerprints – including callused hands, the ineffectiveness of fingerprints of persons in manual or hard labor.though if iris scan is used iris scans too have been found to be unreliable, especially in conditions of manual labour and malnourishment.Many of the laborers, malnourished and undernourished would be at the receiving end .
Solution Could be :2D/3D-Face Recognition Technique-Its the one of the few biometric methods that posses the merits of both higher accuracy and low intrusiveness.As UIDAI is collecting the snapshot of enroller at the time of enrollment.the basic premise behind this idea is that physiological features are not alterable except by severe injury.(e.g US State police use this mechanism to identify culprits using this technique)
2.Issue of Privacy
Any database that stores personal information carries the risk of its misuse by various agencies (both public and private), which may affect an individual’s privacy. Although govt is drafting privacy bill to ensure legal enforcement .Increasing attacks on Indian Government servers by many foreign intelligentsia is a major concern.but to people who live on streets,ghettos the issue of privacy sounds queerish. Since its optional for people to enroll.
The home ministry has raised serious security concern over involvement of private agencies in large scale scheme and collection of data of residents and not the citizens.Though UIDAI’s mandate says only about residents.Home ministry was about to use the data of AADHAR for its ambitious project NPRwhich is under the office of Registrar General of India(RGI),but after receiving the complaints that several illegal immigrants got the Aadhaar number, the Home Ministry refused to use the data collected by UIDAI saying that it was not foolproof.
NPR’s goals are internal security and curbing illegal immigration. and as RGI says enrolment is “irrespective of nationality” and asks people to self-declare nationality. Also, while the 2003 citizenship rules speak of “citizens”, NPR refers only to “usual residents”— i don’t understand about this specific objection raised by home ministry as it also doesn’t mention about residents and moreover it asks people to self-declare .
Concerns on duplication of data,data theft,privacy,security are valid concerns but these can be resolved with holistic approach among all concerned ministries and state governments.we should not make it like other so called flagship programmes which are in bin.As the recent case of Jharkahand where the enrollments in urban areas have been stopped because of deficient funds for the project.It is said that it hardly costs Rs 100/- per person .Government should find a way to ensure maximum funds for the project and enroll residents beyond its mandate of 200 million enrollments.Initiatives like Aadhar are certainly a game changer in India’s social welfare sector.