There was significant criticism when Indian government announced of creating a multi-purpose unique identity card for each of its residents. Will it be another card to the already loaded purse on the back? – was one of the major concern looking at the budget outlay for the purpose.
The card will use biometrics to store data about the card holders, which include fingerprints, and photo of face and iris. The card will store demographic data too that can be used for different social schemes driven by the government. Indian residents can use their cards for opening bank accounts, can even use as ration card and driving license apart from other usage. There is also a plan to make the card capable to carry financial information to help microcredits and NREGA payments country-wide.
Of course, the risks are many like advantages. The technical and architectural design of the card must be futuristic to withstand changes in the coming years in the areas of technology and socio-political diversity. The data in the card must be stored in a secured form to prevent abuse. As I was emphasising in a live programme of a news channel yesterday, the security is paramount. This is because plenty of critical information about the individual can be obtained from the card. Inclusion of financial information will only add to it. Moreover, it is absolutely necessary to implement a sustainable process for information update on regular basis to comply to the objective of such mammoth effort. In fact, the process can add complexities due to varied socio-economic development across the country, and accessibility to and by residents may pose a challenge in this regard.
Despite of all issues, we must welcome this project. As you study deeper into the plan, it looks innovative. If you compare it with similar effort elsewhere, the plan will look as a clear step forward. It is huge and ambitious in terms of scale and complexities associated with Indian context. The successful implementation will help in addressing internal security issues, unlawful immigration and implementation of social security schemes by government effectively.