Sunday, March 2, 2014

Aadhar - What people know and think of it?

It is astonishing to note that the government's populist gimmick in Aadhar is a firecracker with sound and no fire. Most people especially the educated Indian doesn't have the slightest inkling of what Aadhar is all about?

When interviewed as shown in the video above, people only had ignorance to mete out. Some said it was as important as pan card and perhaps its replacement. Others sweared by its importance and called it an Indian's citizenship card while many more called it a populist persuasion by the government. While only one gentleman believed that it was being thrust on the citizens of the country while plying with our security.

When first issued in Maharashtra it was promised to be a gateway for government sponsored benefits. While aiming to resolve all the 'know your customer' issues that the consumers have been facing until now. One can get a bank account or mobile number using Aadhar but the same doesn't hold true when buying an insurance policy or investing in mutual funds. Since both these need a government authorized identification document like the Permanent Account Number (PAN). Until September 2013, Aadhar was not mandatory for essential services such as salary, provident fund disbursal and marriage or property registeration. It was only in December 2012 over two years after the first card came to existance, that RBI allowed banks to accept Aadhar as a valid proof for opening bank accounts.

An ambitious project like Aadhar can only find public value unless more incentives are attached to it. Experts say more thoughts on its work-ability need to be conducted as well as a cost analysis done. This being the only remedy that can save a huge database of individual details and biometrics.

Many of the tall claims laid by the project have failed to pay dividends. For the starters, the basic principle of pilot testing and size of sample have been neglected. For over 1.2 billion UID numbers they have used data from 20,000 people in pairs as a sample and on the basis of results gone ahead with UID number through Aadhar project. An example of this careless misgiving is P.V Narayanan of Pannathadi panchayat who recieved two Aadhar numbers. The names on both cards were the same with slightly different pictures. Narayanan may have registered at two places or two different centres. His fingerprints seemed to have passed the so called robust de-duplication test of UIDAI. Since Aadhar uses an iris scan, this too passed the test. This is a glaring example of how feeble is the technology used for the project.

Data captured by private players is vulnerable to misuse. The data captured in itself has blunders. There have been instances where instead of the photograph of a person, an image of an object was captured. Is this the robust technology that Mr. Nilenkani has to offer?
Vendors can grossly manhandle the data with them. Two months back a Bangladeshi person was arrested in Mumbai who had 100 genuine UID numbers with him.
The government will ultimately provide authentication services to private companies against a few lakhs as fees.
Having all financial and personal data in one place can victimize an innocent person.

Aadhar which started as a simple identity card that would be provided to all Indians turned into a scheme that would benefit the poor and now into a card mandatory for recieving benefits from the government. The government is pushing through the Aadhar as a necessity, infact thrusting it on the citizens.
The irony being Aadhar itself is illegal as the Parliament has refused to pass a bill that was aimed to legalize Aadhar. Then why this hurry? Is it another scam in the making?


ajay@joshi said...

with failures and hickups are part and parcel of product development and roll out. Apple, GM and others face it day in and day out. UID card should be made to succeed, more research and finances should go into making the worlds most powerful identity card and set an example for the world.

Rohit Menon said...

Your account regarding this is absolutely correct.
The technical decisions mad in implementing the scheme have been flawed from the start and are being revised again, leading to crores of loss to the government. This I guess is also going into the already heavy pockets of the Babus in power.