Tuesday, March 8, 2011

234 - The world is India’s oyster. And we are handing out cards to prove it - Money Life Article

September 28, 2010 03:45 PM
Devarajan Mahadevan

The ‘unique’ ID card may also be issued to foreigners or illegal immigrants resident in India, say some reports. Why not issue the card to the whole world?

Today's news report (no kidding): If unique identity (UID) officers are to be believed then foreigners or illegal immigrants staying in India may also get the all-important ID to be issued by the Central government. "We have been asked to enrol everyone staying in the country," said a senior government official. He did not deny the possibility of foreigners or illegal immigrants getting the UID.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your non-identified, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. They don't have to worry no more.
Send these, the homeless to me; I'll gift them a card that will set them free."

(With due apologies to Emma Lazarus and her "The New Colossus.")

It's official now. India is about to embark on its most prestigious project yet. No, this is not about our quest to find water on the moon because our cities don't have any of the stuff to drink. We are about to issue 'unique' ID cards to anybody who lives on this planet. Since 'Aadhaar' might not roll out easily from the tongue of say, a native Basque speaker, the project will now be rechristened 'Numbers sans Frontiers'.

Since our latest census (after the forms are suitably modified to include caste, blood groups, name of closest watering hole and details of domesticated animals) is bound to prove that two out of every five people alive on Earth are Indian, what harm if we issue ID cards to the rest?

Finally, our problems with Pakistan will be sorted out. There will be no more illegal infiltration of militants anymore as anybody with the NSF (Numbers sans Frontiers) card can pick up an AK-47, get into a Toyota pick-up and drive through Wagah.

Illegal migration from Bangladesh will also be a thing of the past. That's simply because the migrants will not be illegal any more. They'll have the NSF card to prove it.

Since the NSF card will have details in all the official languages of India with a thousand dialects thrown in (the all-knowing, omnipotent IT czar with a bad moustache who is behind the project will work out the details) along with a moving screen with bad Indian soap operas, this card will be identifiable at each and every corner of the world.

The only danger to this ambitious project, of course, will hinge on how Steve Jobs will react. Will he come out with an iNSF (with Flash, to boot)? That's when Indian ingenuity will save the day. Our home-grown NSF cards will be packed with features which will not function. That's how we will separate the wheat from the chaff.

Talking about wheat, the person holding the NSF card will be able to buy virtual grain from our Public Distribution System. "If they don't have bread, let them bake," as one of our senior ministers put it, not too long ago.

Dear reader, if you have not got your NSF card yet, don't fret. When reports last came in, it was confirmed that these cards will be issued only after every other form of Indian identity (PAN cards, driving licenses, passports and school-leaving certificates) will be destroyed in a Nazi-like orgy of serial bonfires. It is also rumoured that this bonfire will be used to light up the torch of every Commonwealth Games to come, if there are any left. Isn't it time that the Queen passed the baton and picked up her very own NSF card?   

Don't watch this space for more. I'm off to get my NSF card.