Topical News

Newsweek, 15 Sept, 2017

India has come to the final stage of a very ambitious plan rolling out a bio-metric database for the entire population of the country. The plan started in 2010 and seven years later now nearly 90 percent of 1.3 billion people, i.e. 1.16 billion have already been covered and received 12 digit ID card after each one offered 10 finger prints, one photograph and 3 iris scans to have a national database. The 12-digit ID  card would uniquely identify an individual in the national database and his or her bio-metric scan would help to match with his or her personal data.  This was a monumental task of epoch proportions. The advantage of this exercise is that it will cut down enormously the misuse of social welfare benefits, electoral fraud and crime; misuse of fake births, deaths and marriage certificates and stop fake passport applications. However, concerns have been raised by Human Rights Groups and libertarians that privacy and civil liberty of individuals will be sacrificed by this all-embracing government action.

It should, however, be noted that a similar scheme in the UK had been mooted for the last two decades and after spending hundreds of millions of pounds, the scheme had been ditched by successive governments because of enormous costs. Also logistics of maintaining a database for 65 million people in the UK had been found to be unmanageable. How can then India manage nearly 20 times bigger population with far, far less monetary costs? West should learn a thing or two from India.

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