Thursday, March 3, 2011

43 - The Unique ID Project in India: A Skeptical Note by Ramakumar Source - Springer Link

The Unique ID Project in India: A Skeptical Note
R. Ramakumar

(1) School of Social Sciences, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, 400 088
In this note, I discuss certain social and ethical aspects of a new national project to supply unique ID (UID) numbers to Indian residents. The UID project is presented as a “technology-based solution” that would change the face of governance in India. I argue in this note that the UID project would actually lead to the violation of a large number of freedoms of Indian people. No amount of assertion vis-à-vis improved service delivery can justify the violation of citizen’s freedoms and liberties. Next, I argue that there is a misplaced emphasis on the benefits of technology in this project, when the robustness of that technology to handle large populations remains largely unproven. Further, I argue that no detailed cost-benefit analysis of the project has been carried out yet. Finally, I try to show, with an illustration, that the roots of inefficiency in public welfare schemes in India are policy-induced and do not lie in the absence of identity proofs.
Keywords Identity Cards - Unique Identification Numbers - Technology and Governance - ICT - Indi