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UID. UIDAI, AADHAAR: The promise, the premise and performance—a reality check

**If you are looking for a compilation of different articles on UIDAI go to
http://aadhaar-articles.blogspot.com.au/
http://aadhararticles.blogspot.com (AND)
http://www.delicious.com/golisoda/uid**
Periodic updates at http://openspace.org.in/UIDaadhaarsecurity2012

for a humourous take
http://thefishpond.in/edwin/2010/uid-scrapped-nascum-calls-for-bharath-bandh/#more-1041 (AND)
http://openspace.org.in/UIDAadhaartoptenreasons

** A good short guide http://www.scribd.com/doc/64484088/UID-for-Dummies
**their response http://epw.in/epw/uploads/articles/15120.pdf **

The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) will collect the following data fields and biometrics for issuing a UID

  1. Name
  2. Date of birth
  3. Gender
  4. Father's/ Husband's/ Guardian's name and UID (optional for adult residents)
  5. Mother's/ Wife's/ Guardian's name and UID (optional for adult residents)
  6. Introducer's name and UID ( in case of lack of documents)
  7. Address
  8. All ten finger prints
  9. Photograph
  10. Both iris scans.

As per the report of Demographic Data Standards and Verification Procedure (DDSVP) Committee set up by UIDAI , the address details to be collected from the citizens will have the following fields: Building, Street, Village-Town-City, District, State, Pin Code etc. As per the Know Your Resident (KYR) plus concept of UIDAI, additional fields could be included by the Registrar. It is suggested that the name of the relevant Village Panchayat (VP) may be added as an additional data field.

UIDAI has been set up to manage this task.

When India’s UID project was set up and the well respected Nandan Nilekani took over as the helmsman UIDAI, his senior—and perhaps more respected—colleague at Infosys Narayana Murthy said that it was like a younger brother leaving home. In the months since then, UIDAI has turned out to be contentious: from those who say that it is the one sure shot solution to india’s problems—from security to poverty allieviation—to those who warn that it is more of a big brother act, gutting the constitution—and everything else—in its path.

There has been a lot of hype about the new technological magic bullet that will suddenly ‘provide an identity to every Indian’ with Nilekani (*) even proclaiming that UID isn't just a number, it is an identity, result in ‘financial inclusion’ and enhanced security. Some of the more fantastic claims include better jobs, better pay and access to banks.

The retort has been from the dismissive ‘hey, didn’t we have names before?! And weren’t passports and ration cards issued based on that?’, to the more measured position that each of these claims is patently false, and known to those pushing for this colossal technological, financial and administrative scam. Given the circumstances of poverty and ignorance of large sections of Indian citizens, it is akin to grabbing the food from a child’s mouth.

UIDAI has hired five experts to help communicate different messages to different sections of the Indian population for a buy in. Due to government regulations, the five specialists advise in an individual capacity and not as representatives of their organizations.

Let us look at each of these claims one by one. We need to ask the more fundamental questions such as Do we need this? What is the problem we are trying to solve? Is this a solution to the defined problem? What has been the global experience? Is this just a solution looking for a problem?

In a telling comment, after a very public disagreement with the Ministry of Home Affairs which called the Aadhaar flawed , the UIDAI has 'taken a break' for six weeks from March 2012 so that they can study what went wrong. The officials admitted that in some sense, it was a large pilot project, and there was a need to pause and look at what worked and what did not. A rather costly field pilot study at over Rs 5,000 crores (Rs 50,000,000,000 U$ 1 billion)

* link from UIDAI website.