UID/Aadhaar
UIDAI chairman leaves simple questions unanswered at lecture for students

Students at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore raised questions on the huge cost of the newly-launched unique identification project, the security of the system and what was being done to prevent its possible misuse, but they got no clear answer

In the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) that I graduated from way back in 1983, dialogue and debate were the essence of true talent. Those who were revered most by the janta (as we used to call the crowd) were not just the toppers and gold medalists of the class-of course they had their special place too-but those who excelled in debating. In all the talks and public functions that we attended at IIT, the speaker would be booed if he shied away from the debate or the questions-and-answers session. It was okay if he gave the wrong answers, but it was important that he stuck on to face the music.

I am told that the IITs have changed a lot now, and the most revered are those who are best at playing computer games and not debates. But let me leave that topic for another day.

Among technical institutes in India and especially in fields such as computer science, IISc was one of the best at the time I graduated. Perhaps, it still is, but I don't know of the latest ratings. Admission to the school of automation programme for MTech at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was much sought after.

Memories of my IIT days came back a couple of days ago, when I attended a lecture by the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) at the National Institute of Advanced Studies at IISc in Bangalore. The hall was jam-packed with thick-glassed, nerdy-looking students. The vociferous among them asked several tough questions on the UID project. But, sadly, the answers by Nandan Nilekani, the UIDAI chairman, were more evasive and less direct. Mr Nilekani focused on the role of 'Aadhaar', the 12-digit unique identification number, in the transformation of public services.

One youngster asked whether the Rs1,50,000 crore to be spent on the UID project would be worth it. The UIDAI chairman asked where he had got the number from. When the student mentioned the name of Professor Ramkumar and The Hindu newspaper, the chairman told him not to believe what newspapers write. Sadly, the chairman did not say what the UIDAI's actual budget is.

To another question about whether UID might give excessive information to the states, enabling them to target minorities, the answer was again evasive and academic. The chairman thought that it was up to the state governments to legislate against this possibility. Indeed, when the custodians of the law themselves target minorities (like we have seen in the case of Gujarat), how does the answer square up?

It doesn't require an investigator to see that the fair implementation of the law is the biggest problem in our country. While a Binayak Sen is condemned to jail, we know well how Suresh Kalmadi, at the centre of the Commonwealth Games scandal, and A Raja, who is alleged to have manipulated 2G spectrum allocation that is responsible for the telecom scam, are roaming scot-free. Surely, the UIDAI chairman is not unaware about this.

In answer to another question, the chairman said that even in the US the state has the power to gather data of its citizens, for purposes of national security. Again, what was left unsaid was that in the US, the real ID project, which gathers the biometrics of citizens has been stalled and has been struck down by a number of states.

To a third question about whether there was no better, cheaper way to stop the leakage from government departments, the UIDAI chairman asked the student to come up with a better solution. He did not explain what other options had been considered before arriving at the UID proposal. Surely, there could be a better solution, but it's not an issue that can be resolved on the spur of the moment.

The chairman did not say whether there was a systematic study undertaken on the various options open, their pluses and minuses, before deciding on spending a huge amount from the taxpayers' money on UID. And by the way, it has been conclusively proved that the major leakage of government aid is not due to a lack of proof of identity that UIDAI claims.

The chairman mentioned that 600 million rural people do not have a bank account. But what he did not say was that 1,400 people who have been given bank accounts in Nandurbar district in Maharashtra where the UID project was inaugurated, have zero deposits in their accounts and that they have never operated the bank accounts. Of what use is the bank account if there is no money to deposit in the account? How viable will the economics of such bank accounts be for the banks? Will banks now start charging a commission to account holders?

A couple of weeks ago, at a public function held in Bangalore, an information technology security expert, J T Desouza, demonstrated in full view of the people, how fingerprints could be faked to fool a fingerprint scanner. At the demonstration was none other than Karnataka IT secretary Vidyashankar who works with the UIDAI very closely. He promised to arrange this demonstration before the UIDAI's technical people. Like many other promises by UIDAI, this is also unfulfilled.

At the end of the day, I came out feeling that the young IISc students, on the threshold of a career, required mentoring, rather than an exercise in half-truths. But my biggest take-away from the programme was the sight of a couple of boys and girls from IISc demonstrating silently at the gate of the auditorium. A placard that one of them held, read: 'Happy New Fear'. I am happy to see that a new generation of young students, concerned about their country, is emerging.

(The author has a B Tech from IIT Bombay and a PhD from Columbia University, New York. He runs Teknotrends Software Pvt Ltd, a start-up that does cutting-edge work in the area of network security.)

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COMMENTS

rajesh

6 years ago

UIDAI is mother of all scams. If properly investigated, both Nilankeni and PM will end up in prison (though they will easily make bail in a few months like Ramalinga and Kanimozhi).

raman

7 years ago

IN INDIA, IT IS THE MAJORITY HINDUS THAT ARE TARGERTED BY POLITICIANS, CONGRESS PARTY & OTHER CHAMPIONS OF BACKWARD CLASS & MINORITIES. WHAT IS THE SAFETY OF MAJORITY HINDUS? MINORITY MUSLIMS IN INDIA HAVE ALWAYS HAD THE CAKE & ATE IT TOO & STILL CRIB ABOUT IT. ENLIGHTENED MUSLIMS WHO HAVE BEEN TO OTHER MUSLIM COUNTRIES SAY, INDIA IS HEAVEN ON EARTH FOR MUSLIMS. BUT TO KEEP UP THEIR ANTENA OF DESCRIMINATION MAKES THEM KEEP AHEAD THROUGH EXPLOITATION OF MAJORITY HINDUS AGAINST OPPORTUNISTIC, SELFISH POLITICIANS.

Babubhai Vaghela

7 years ago

Like some other corrupt & dishonest UPA Govt Ministers, Nandan Nilekani also appears to be doing hanky panky secretly. Otherwise, there is no reason why he cannot answer simple questions. Nandan Nilekani may prove to be another Suresh Kalmadi and UID a bigger Scam than CWG. Transparency needed in UID working.

Pravin

7 years ago

nice to see some of our geek brothers take nilekani to task.nandan,who made his money on the basis of free markets,now espouses doles and sarkari benevolence for financial inclusion .he probably doesnt realize that the only ones salivating over his UID are the spooks at NTRO.it is never the sarkar's business to interfere in people's lives.we arent cattle to be counted and branded.nilekani will go down as a villain one day.similar to the great scientists who helped

nagesh kini

7 years ago

thanks a lot moneylife for opening up the great uid debate from a wide cross section. we have gotten to read extremely meaningfull and valid arguments for and against. wish the authorities that be take note
keep it up.debashis and sucheta you have our full support.

Ram

7 years ago

Nandan in a conversation with Sadiq Naqvi and Akash Bisht in Hardnews
http://www.hardnewsmedia.com/2011/01/380...
says "Yes, it is voluntary. But the service providers might make it mandatory. In the long run, I wouldn't call it compulsory. I would rather say that it will become ubiquitous. "

Now that says it all, does it not?. How convoluted is this reply?

Read full article for more vague answers from Nandan Nilekani

Vickram Crishna

7 years ago

@Sudhir, Ashok and other IITians who have contributed to the discussion here: please understand the logic of banks supporting UID. The banks have signally failed for 40 years (since nationalisation, I mean) to make financial inclusion possible by opening branches or extension counters in the villages. With this NREGS tie-up, the banks can take advantage of a wonderful package of under-the-table support from the government (unregulated by RBI) by instantly getting worker payments deposited in psuedo-branches - looks real good on paper. But. They have no obligation, hence need not invest in the infrastructure, to bring full-scale banking, including the thorny problems of farmer loans, down to the villages. As a bonus, while the money may be withdrawn from the bank within the short time of it being deposited, we are still talking days not hours, in every month - in Advanced Financial Management, we learned how to roll static money over weekends, not just weekdays! No need to be naive or allow others to behave as though we are naive.

Rather than financial inclusion, the real rural situation will hardly change at all, with the minor difference that more NREGS money will flow to those it should. Forget naive, we would have to be very stupid to think the lack of bank presence is all that stands between the exchequer and the poverty-stricken people who want to take advantage of work-for-pay schemes, and even more remarkably, that the lack of convenient ID is the only obstacle to rural banking.

As for the cost information on the UIDAI website, even NN would not be so shameless as to expect us to believe that this reflects the total cost of national deployment of a UID backed point-of-need verification solution. The budget quoted in the comments section is not even meant to pay for more than one single segment of the total cost. It is hardly nine months since FM Pranab Mukherji threw a fit when the real budget was presented to the Cabinet for approval - and only gave his consent when chunks of it were devolved down to the states. Kalbag may have forgotten this in his unseemly haste to defend the indefensible.

Forget the money, forget the financial inclusion. Let us assume that any other solution to runaway corruption is going to cost us as much, and let us imagine that the bonus of financial inclusion is not a goal at all.

Are the fundamental premises of an inviolable database practical? It is a great challenge, but so is climbing a mountain of soft cowpats. Doesn't mean we should be in any hurry to attempt it. The fact that so many security agencies will be able to track individuals by location, communication, financial transactions and more ought to make anyone sit up and wonder.

We do not have a great track record in creating security forces that are completely above-board and impossible to traduce. No-one does, but that's another matter - our failures are legion, not the stuff of make-believe spy novels. Just as the corruption in payout of subsidies won't be solved by simplistically bringing banks into the picture, neither will our security problems be solved by arming the government with the most nightmarish level of access to our personal lives imaginable.

One person "LP" says: [if you have nothing to hide...] a standard childish response from someone unwilling to think things through. He is in good company - only last year, the Google chief Eric Schmidt said more or less the same thing. Google employees do not seem to share the same viewpoint - the founder of Google Earth said in IIT Bombay only a couple of weeks back that launching intrusive technologies without adequately polling end-users is counterproductive. Perhaps Badami, Kalbag, etc weren't listening closely.

REPLY

Sudhir Badami

In Reply to Vickram Crishna 7 years ago

Thanks Vickram for an elaborate response. I go with confidence in Nandan's ability in delivering things and shall I say Integrity. Yes I do need to go into details. Perhaps in a real world outside the commercial arena, he is somewhat naive. Instead of getting him on the defensive, I think he could do well with constructive criticism. I will get back on this later next week.

Vickram Crishna

In Reply to Sudhir Badami 7 years ago

Thanks, Sudhir. I welcome your offer to talk with Nandan - as this article relates, he has not been as responsive on doubts and criticisms expressed publicly as would clear doubts. Putting him on the defensive was never an intention. The outreach process he initiated has not resulted in actually settling any of the doubts, or why would one need to repeat them so long after the project took shape?

Whatever little public debate has taken place (2 meetings in all, I believe, not counting this Bengaluru meeting) has witnessed junior UIDAI staffers leaving the venue without addressing issues and making vague promises to organise substantive meetings sometime in the unspecified future, not one of which has taken place till now.

Efforts to try and build a meaningful debate at the recent pan-IIT meeting in Delhi (where Nandan was rightly a star attraction, yet ended up a rote panelist in an unrelated general discussion dominated by transparency guru Arvind Kejriwal) also drew a blank, for reasons best known to the individual session committees, mostly headed by personal acquaintances of both yours and mine.

Akshay

7 years ago

@Sudhir Badami, BV Krishnan and Ravi Chhabra...Pls read the comment from Tom Dick Harry. Also search for UID on this site and read and try to understand the side effects of the UID number. The suffering of people below poverty line is not due to lack of ID but because of corruption thats happening due to the politician, babus and middle men.
Here is the comment...
"Open your eyes and look at the UID project more carefully. Its waste of time and taxpayers money. As the elders wisely said, if the water is contaminated, then you have to remove the contamination, not to add some other substance to make it pure. Same goes here. If there are problems with other IDs like PAN card, Voters card then you rectify it, not add another useless ID number. Read more.. Why is UID number being made compulsory through the backdoor? http://moneylife.in/article/78/12912.htm.... and UID = more 'consumers', admits Nilekani http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/11574.... Even after reading these articles if you are not convinced, then go ahead and get yourself enrolled to the UID. After all its going to be mandatory through backdoor."

Sudhir Badami

7 years ago

I see unconvincing arguments against Aadhar (UID). Without expanding discussion, allow me to say that just because bank account has zero amount as deposit, UID number has no meaning or holding a bank account is pointless is wrong logic.We know that in Maharashtra, most of REGS payments went to non existing persons. If Aadhar was in operation, payments would have been made to the right person's.account. Adhar can reduce the administrative costs. Collectively, the money required appears very high, but per capita expense is very small. I do not see reasons well founded for the skepticism.

B V KRISHNAN

7 years ago

I wish to clarify Mr.Ravi Chhabra's remark re: "how many ID proofs do we need"? The UIDAI is not meant to provide you with another ID proof - it is meant to ensure that the Govt's welfare schemes reach the target people to which they are meant. People who are below poverty line do not have PAN cards or any other kind of ID proof. The politicians/babus use this lacuna to syphon off the money from these schemes with bogus identities. It is hoped that this will stop once the UDAI is fully operational. This is a good scheme - and spending 2000 crores is worth it. When we can splurge 100,000 crores on Commonwealth Games, why not sped a fraction of it on this good cause?

Ravi Chhabra

7 years ago

Looks like the author of this article is a bit confused. Has he graduated from IIT or from IISc ? He mixes up the two at the start of the article. Moreover, the moot point is , how many ID proofs do we need ? Ration Card , Voter's Id card, PAN Card, Driving License, KYC , KYD, Bank Pass book ( and that also Nationalised ones are recognised and not Private ones ) , Mobile Phone bills not accepted as a proof but you need BSNL or MTNL bill or Electricity bill. This is what needs to be discussed and debated, We have to stop spending our tax payer;s money in duplicating the efforts of creating Id proofs.

Ashok Kalbag

7 years ago

It is not clear why so many questions are asked where answers are already on the website. Is it because the questions are asked without any forethought or effort to get at the answers? The finances for instance are all put up on their website.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was created during
2009-10 and a modest start with an expenditure of Rs 30.92 crore was made. The draft approach to creating Unique Identification Numbers to every resident in India, concept papers describing the linkages of various welfare schemes steered by different Ministries/departments of Government of India and reports of the Demographic Data Standards and Field Verification Committee and Biometrics Committee were completed. The preparatory work for the Proof of Concept Studies and the Pilots were commenced. In the current year the Proof of Concept Studies and the pilots will be completed and the UID numbers will begin to be issued. Full scale enrolment of the resident and authentication services will be commenced towards the end of the year. The Managed Service Provider will be selected and the Central Data Identity Depository will be handed over on a long term contract basis. For this budget of Rs 1900.00 crores allocated during Annual Plan 2010-11. A major part of it is to be used for eimbursement of enrolment costs
to the registrars as also to the residents.

Robin

7 years ago

Young India is wake up not old politician that is the reason India is rising.

prakash

7 years ago

the way author look at the uid is other part of coin. The author himself is confused and want the answers the way he want. The effort in one positive direction shell not be criticized the way he is doing.
let me know what he has contributed to community himself.

B V KRISHNAN

7 years ago

The fear that marketing companies might get hold of the data for targeting customers, is genuine. But can we throw the baby with the bathwater? UIDN has many advantages too!

UID: Some unique life stories of common citizens

The average Indian has much more serious problems to attend to, like making both ends meet, or how to procure high-priced essentials, or get decent health care, and the hugely expensive UID programme isn’t going to make any difference about this

Thanks to a pliant media (and through the Radia tapes we now know who controls the mainstream media) and the UIDAI's media campaign (tax payers' money spent to brainwash people) one almost begins to feel that lack of identity is a real problem in India. In urban India, however, one need only look at a few examples to bust the myth being propagated by the UID campaign. Here are some examples from lower middle-class Bangalore.

Joy is a car mechanic who has his own mechanic shop. He works deligently, gets a few customers, and does a very good job for a very reasonable price. He is not a dealer or an approved mechanic for any of the big car brands; he doesn't even have an air-conditioned showroom that might attract upmarket customers. He operates in a low-class locality in Bangalore called Viveknagar.

Joy basically lives a hand-to-mouth existence, and to his credit has created a few jobs too. Joy's mother, 75, was ill some time back. She was taken to the government-owned Bowring Hospital. She was diabetic and also suffered from a heart disease. The doctors told her that one of her kidneys was not functioning and that the heart was functioning only about 10%, and that was only a matter of time before she would leave for her heavenly abode. They asked that she be taken back home.

No tests like echocardiogram, or a treadmill test, let alone an angiogram. It puzzles me how the doctors came to the conclusion simply on the basis of an ECG. I won't be surprised if they looked at Joy's ability, or rather inability, to pay for the sophisticated tests and surgical procedures and concluded that Joy and his mother were not worth wasting time on. Joy had a resigned look on his face-he told me it is all a matter of fate. A few weeks after his mother was brought home, she passed away.

Harry is a painter who works for a big paints manufacturing company in Bangalore. He earns Rs10,000 a month. Harry is a Bangalorean, owns a small house in the HAL locality. He has rented out a part of his house, and that gets him an income of Rs2,000 a month.

Harry's problem is that two years ago, his son who was about 12 years old had an accident. His leg was damaged; the bones near his thighs were damaged. The hospital screwed up or some such thing happened, and his son will forever be on crutches. Harry spent Rs2 lakh on medical treatment. Not knowing the intricacies of the medical condition, or how the hospitals and doctors operate, Harry sees no solution for his son's health condition. All Harry does is plead with me, "Pray for my son".

I could describe a hundred stories like these, deaths that should not have happened, or of permanent disabilities due to a lack of knowledge of patients, about private health-care costs that are very high, and dismal health care in public hospitals.

Among the several people in the low-class localities of Bangalore that I know, the story is more or less the same. Many die by the time they are 50, bad food habits, drinking and ignorance of modern health care leading to heart attack in most cases. When the sole bread-earner dies, the cycle repeats. Children don't have the money to study and take up a higher professional degree, as a result of which their earning capacity is dismal. The loop will continue to the next generation. This to me is urban lower middle-class India's story.

Unless I am drastically wrong somewhere, I believe what urban India needs is cheap government subsidised education, affordable health care, and good education that can give people higher-paying jobs. For instance, today the IT sector has high-paying jobs but not enough talented and skilled people. There are too many low-skilled or unskilled people around, and most job vacancies require higher skills. Thus, there
is a mismatch.

I cannot understand how UID (unique identity number), or deploying a sophisticated biometric scanner is going to help these people. Sure, they will enroll in the UID programme; for that matter, show them any carrot and they will enroll in anything. They are too naive to see through the complex, sophisticated business models of the fat-cat corporates.

Portable identity is touted as a feature of this UID programme. Eliminating fake ration cards is touted as another feature. In a recent talk by the IT secretary of Karnataka on a panel discussion on UID, he mentioned how computerisation of traffic records and subsequent linking of records had helped increase revenues from traffic fines in the state. This may be true, but how high a priority should this be? Even with a few fake ration cards, a poor family could make say Rs5,000 a month more by pilfering grains and kerosene. Compare this with the hundreds of thousands of crores taken away by sophisticated scamsters in the Commonwealth Games, the Adarsh army building case and the 2G spectrum allocation matter. Who should the government be going after? Big crooks or petty thieves?

Coming to catching traffic violators, it is interesting that most traffic cops prefer to catch two-wheeler riders over those going around in say luxury cars. The concept of a hierarchical society is ingrained in our psyche so much, more so in the psyche of even our cops. That all citizens should be equal before the law is hardly practiced in our country.

Coming back to the UID programme, why spend Rs50,000 crore of tax payers' money to catch a petty thief? And to whom are we going to give the contracts for biometric scanners and such other contracts to? It would have helped if the contracts for biometric scanners were given to Indian companies who could have done research on biometrics, manufactured the scanners in India and as a result would have created good technology and good jobs in India. Indeed, India could have become leaders in biometric research and manufacturing, and these companies could have then tried to get into foreign markets. However, these contracts have been given to the likes of Microsoft and L-1 identity solutions. L-1 has had or continues to have a number of former US government intelligence personnel as its top executives or employees.

Indeed, it takes a few conversations with a man on the street, and not moving about the malls alone, to see the state of the nation and the aam aadmi's problems.

Even the so-called conveniences attributed to come from UID-instant mobile connection for instance-would be useful really for the upmarket crowd who are busy making money and cannot afford to make even two visits to a mobile providers' office, or do not have the time to arrange for address proof and identity proof documents. The aam aadmi on the other hand has time at his disposal; he wouldn't give much importance to this convenience. But he has much more serious problems to deal with-like how to make both ends meet; how to deal with the huge price rise of essential commodities; how to get health care; problems that are much more serious than helping you shop for the right item at the click of a mouse.

(The author has a BTech from IIT Mumbai, and a PhD from Columbia University, New York. He runs a start-up, Teknotrends Software Pvt Ltd, that does cutting-edge work in the area of network security.)

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COMMENTS

citizenindia

7 years ago

dont agree at all. UID was never marketed as a solution to all problems of a comman man. the 5000 that he talks of small fish can become as big when we take the whole system into account. It has the potential to improve our delivery mechanism which is the biggest leakage point as there are schemes galore. politicians are always criticised even retrospectively for things. i think they should be given credit too where its due. after running a small family and trying to keep it together , im sure one would realise that how big a task it must have been for our nation builders to keep such a diverse country with such strong beliefs and divergent views together . nation building is the tougher part. economic growth will come easily when the structure is in place. and we are still evolving. just because media is filled with scam news doesnt mean all of a sudden we have become more corrupt. rather, it seems to me the system is finally being put to work. given to our politicians, these things which are a part of daily private discussions would have never made it to tv channels in the first place. as if we didnt know that the telecom sector was manipulated by every previous govt to suit the then lobbysts. just because the media is not talking about other scams in defence or aviation or mining doesnt mean there is no corruption there. basically where ever there is discretionary power alloted to the state, someone will try to manipulate the system and take advantage. be it SEZ or mining lease allotments or telecom spectrum or licences or aviation etc etc. if sonia manages to remove even half the disctretionary powers of the state, she would have cut corruption in equal proportion. but she will have to be corageous enough to do it as her party is in a coaliton and these things are tough even for majority govts! imagine, if there is state funded election and our ministers have no discretionary or less discreationary powers, why would majority of our parlamentarians want to be in politics! the counrty has to be at peace with itself and give our leaders enough leeway to take on deep entrenched vested interests . The RTI was amongst the most significant gifts to the people of this country. I have no doubt in my mind that whats happened over the last year will only embolden our PM to go after the corrupt without being bogged down by coalition politics and let the judiciary do the rest . And it is our duty to reward the govt if it does act boldly without fearing the consequences of coalition politics.

lp

7 years ago

the whining against the UID doesnt seem to stop on moneylife.

what's happening guys?

Santosh

7 years ago

Dear Author,
You cant relate the problems Aam aadmi facing like you mentioned Healthcare problems with UID programme. The two things are totally different.UID will help Indian peoples in many ways which is incomparable.

VIKAS

7 years ago

Its easy to criticize any thing that govt. does. On this matter, it is not the point that UID would help the characters mentioned in the article directly, rather it aims at a bigger picture. Mr. Basu, this article from you is disappointing. Instead give some constructive suggestions to improve the scheme.

Harsh

7 years ago

To be honest, it presents only one side of the things and hence it is a half baked analysis.
* We need Good healthcare in Govt. Hospital - Government hospitals do get funds - but majority of funds are siphoned off - UID will help on this to soem extent - patients can get subsidies or financial assistance directly on the basis of UID numbers.

Secondly, the issues here are different. The biggest problem in India is corruption and UID will solve this problem. only about 30% people who are eligible for BPL ration cards actually have one. Rest of the people cannot give bribes to procure one. That is why so many people die of hunger inspite of schemes. When UID comes, all these people can easily establish the identity and lay claim on the money or subsidies earmarked for them.

Also, just make UID compulsory for bank accounts and see how quickly crores of money spread across multiple accounts crops up quickly. With time as House/Land registrations are becoming computerized and as and when UId become compulsory, it will be very difficult to siphon off black money.

REPLY

Ramdass

In Reply to Harsh 7 years ago

Even after seeing the number of scams which have nothing to do with identity (Identity of the people involved is public knowledge), do you still believe Aadhaar, whose claim is to provide identity , would help in eliminating corruption? That is a big farce. Secondly, most of the siphoning of money happens thro' benami people's bank accounts and properties. Just making Aadhar compulsory for such transactions will not make these transactions any more transparent. Aadhaar wil not help in catching the big fish, as the article rightly points out.

K B Patil

In Reply to Harsh 7 years ago

Merely getting an UID number is not going to change the common man's life. The best proof is the UP PDS scheme wherein everyone from the top to the village level functionary seem to be involved. To add to this please go through the details of the recently convicted ex UP Chief Secretary, Neera Yadav's career. She was voted the second most corrupt officer by her colleagues. Yet Mulayam Singh found her indispensable and made her Chief Secretary. It was the Supreme Court which stepped in and threw her out. But that was not the end of this resourceful lady. She had a good rapport with leaders of all ladies and campaigned for Rajnath Singh in the last general election.

My point is that, with almost all parties seeped in corruption, UID is not going to change the lives of the poor one bit. The only way forward is for the Supreme Court to be proactive and to cut down these leaders to size.

Avinash Murkute

7 years ago

The days are not far, there will posters on the road, get income tax refunds from us (at a fee) like for the PAN card we see at every nook and corner. Mark my words. And credit will go to ..... Guess!

Amrut Patil

7 years ago

Hi,
Nice write up. but every one will realise UID benifits in coming years. SSN in US was established in 40-50s which they got benefited later when all other systems are build around it. Even though you can bypass the system still now but it has certainly helped long way to US economy/people.

Avinash Murkute

7 years ago

Nice write up. Let me add some feathers and perhaps an obituary to e-Governance. CPC Bangalore is the agency which maintains e-filing of tax returns. The job which was done by income tax officers has been outsourced to IT company. Financial arrangement is not known to me. But what I have experienced is as under.

1) You will get your refund shortly. How do you define shortly remained unanswered over telephone. They don't have email id. CVC and Chairman of CBDT has.

2) We get huge returns so database management is the issue. I asked a BBA and MCA students and say - they can manage any size database. So these students can do better job of database management than the IT company to which this job is outsourced.

3) What is my waiting number? Do you process returns in sequential manner or randomly, tell me my status. Sorry was the figure. Even railway reservation system RAC status but CPC Bangalore doesn't follow that.

4) I was on leave - so couldn't handle the query raised by you. So what is the innovation when returns were filed offline?

5) Our servers are damaged and hence shortly you will get the refund. Ooops! will the client of said ID company hears this he will say Bloody Indians to us.

6) You will have to wait couple of weeks? How many couples of weeks, only God knows.

7) We are CPC Bangalore - what NSDL has given in writing, what SBI Govt Payment Department has given in writing, what Aaaykar Kendra New Delhi has given in writting, we are not bothered. And charter of citizens is applicable to citizens and not to CPC Bangalore's IT company.

8) Give me you email id. Sorry we don't have.

9) On Have you received my speed post. It was delivered to you. Speed post (GOI) department is showing status as delivered. Oh. then it must be delivered and we will take at least 6 months to read it.

10) Last but not the least - When Mr. Narayan Murthy books his train / flight ticket and enquires for his reservation status, the answer must come..very shortly, very shortly, couple of weeks, and he should be provided halfway ticket although he must have paid full fare.


Hope - UID is not going to be waste of taxpayer's money for someone's education of about database management skills.

REPLY

George Birbilis

In Reply to Avinash Murkute 7 years ago

When people aren't "counted" they're also usually not accounted for, yet another citizen where no-one cares about their whereabouts and state of living

Avinash Murkute

In Reply to George Birbilis 7 years ago

Issue is those who preach corruption are part of it. Perhaps they preach for the very same purpose.

Anyway, all these systems and IDs are going to cost nation and help some private players.

UID = more 'consumers', admits Nilekani

According to the UIDAI chief,  the UID number will create a much more ‘open’ marketplace, where ‘hundreds of millions of people’ who were shut out of services will now be able to access them

The truth is finally out. In case you were wondering why the government and big corporates are lobbying hard for the unique identification (UID) programme, here is the answer.

Speaking at the Nielsen Company's 'Consumer 360' event in New Delhi, Nandan Nilekani, chairman, UID Authority of India (UIDAI), said that over a third of India's 1.1 billion 'consumers' had been largely overlooked in areas such as banking and social services.

"The (unique identification) number will create a much more open marketplace, where hundreds of millions of people who were shut out of services will now be able to access them," he told business leaders, adding that the poor find it difficult to reach the market. "Their anonymity limits agencies from providing them services that are remotely available, and that could be accessed through a mobile phone," he said.

Delivering his keynote address, Mr Nilekani focussed more on Indian consumers, especially the ones in remote places, rather than his pet project, the UID or Aadhaar. However, Piyush Mathur, president, Nielsen for India, was more forthcoming. He said, "The UID system will change the way we market to consumers. It will also change the way companies deliver goods and services. At a basic level, UID will enable businesses to improve their traditional supply chains in support of consumers across the country but the big win comes with being able to identify emerging demand."

As per our knowledge and understanding, the UID as a system is being pushed in order to provide identification to the 'poor' or the residents who keep migrating. Everyone, including Mr Nilekani and even the prime minister believed that the UID would help improve the public distribution system (PDS). With the UID, the poor would be able to receive food grains, which otherwise would have vanished in the transit between government's warehouse to the PDS shop. (See: http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/8567.html).

Interestingly, the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and auto sectors, riding on the robust demand from rural markets, did not need UID for reaching their customers. When the rural market called, these companies responded with innovative products that were more suitable to consumers. It may be the use of sachets to sell shampoo, hair oil etc at affordable prices or more fuel-efficient and sturdy vehicles or variants at lower rates, those who have adapted to this strategy are enjoying the fruits.

Mr Mathur said, "Demand has driven new products like shampoo sachets and low-price vehicles but with more information around consumption habits, those types of products can be identified earlier and brought to market in lockstep with consumer needs. That means manufacturers and retailers will waste less money on unnecessary product development, hone their distribution capabilities and anticipate consumer needs."

According to the UIDAI chairman, four broad trends like a demographic disruption, mass migration to cities, availability of low-cost mobile phones and impatience with failing systems, are heralding the rise of a new kind of consumer in India. "This shift in attitudes is creating new urgencies for our services and infrastructure. And we are indeed seeing the emergence of solutions that respond to these forces," he said.

Using UID or Aadhaar or allowing its database to be used by companies for marketing would turn the UIDAI into a business against its mandate, feels some activists. According to an IT expert it appears that pressure on the corporates to show revenues is driving them to squeeze the last drop of blood from the most vulnerable sections of society, namely the poor.

"With foreign companies joining the fray using this as a means to show growth which is difficult to achieve now in the developed world, and the third world opening their door to them by using a fig leaf in the name of helping the poor, the UID is turning whole of India into a 'dukaan'," he said.

The Aadhaar project is funded by the Indian government, but if the corporates wants to use it for marketing and other purposes, then they should pay for it, some of the experts, activists feel. One other IT expert said, "Instead of addressing the maintenance of a higher economic level of demand-supply resolution, the proposition is being reduced to 'selling to the bottom of the pyramid'. 
 
"This pure marketing innovation is being 'sold' to the Indian public as a tool for empowerment and subsidy or benefit assurance to the poverty-stricken, which is why the government is paying for it. If it is a marketing tool, as Mr Nilekani now says, then the business sector should be responsible for its funding, and not the general Indian public," he added.

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COMMENTS

shyam rajpal

7 years ago

yes, in fmcg market it will be helpfull to distribution chanalls.

MUKESH

7 years ago

AS THE FATHER OF UID, NANDAN SHOULD ENSURE FOLLOWING THINGS:
AS THERE ARE CONCERNS ON PRIVACY, MISUSE & ABUSE OF UID BY ALL & SUNDRY, INCLUDING THE GOVT. ITSELF - THROUGH ITS HORDES OF AGENCIES, UID AUTHORITY SHOULD BRING IN A SELF-LEGISLATION/REGULATION THROUGH DOVT. DECREE/LAW THAT THE UID INFO OF ANY INDIVIDUAL WOULD NOT BE A 'SPAM' FOR ANY KIND OF USE BY ANYBODY / ANY AGENCY!

IF MISUED/ABUSED, THE CULPRIT HAS TO BE VERY SEVERY DEALT WITH & GIVEN HARSHEST PUNISHMENT.



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