Why biometric identification of citizens must be resisted? Part 1

The core issue is: Will efforts to undermine the fundamental right of Indians to move and transact freely around the country and to live without constantly having to prove who they are, succeed or fail?

Ever wondered as to why bankers are immensely interested in biometric identification and verification of citizens? Biometric identification implies that movements of present and future generations of citizens are tracked like those of bacteria under a microscope. This exercise of creating a centralised ‘online database’ of biometric information of Indians is unfolding under the supervision of Planning Commission’s Nandan Nilekani and Home Ministry’s C Chandramouli.  The core issue here is: will efforts to undermine the fundamental right of Indians, to move and transact freely around the country and to live without constantly having to prove who they are, succeed or fail?


What is ironical is that while it is inevitable that no centralised electronic database of biometric information can be made leak-proof in the post Wikileaks and Edward Snowden world, bankers, biometric technology companies and their collaborators are marketing it as an answer to increasing demand for identity proof and identity protection from citizens.


In 1998, National Biometric Test Centre, San Jose State University set up by the Biometric Consortium, which is the US government interest group on biometric authentication was asked to testify to the USA’s House Committee on Banking and Financial Services hearing on “Biometrics and the Future of Money”. This testimony of 20 May 1998 was reprinted under the title, “Biometric Identification and the Financial Services Industry”. This centre emerged from a meeting of Biometric Consortium held in 1995, at the FBI training facility. This test centre has defined biometric authentication as “the automatic identification or identity verification of an individual based on physiological and behavioural characteristics”.


Whatever is happening in India is an exercise in imitation of what was attempted in the US. There was bitter opposition to what was attempted in the US through the REAL ID Act of 2005. The US Senate never discussed or voted on the REAL ID Act specifically and no Senate committee hearings were conducted on the REAL ID Act prior to its passage, exposing its undemocratic character and the Bill's proponents avoided a substantive debate on a far-reaching piece of legislation by attaching it to a "must-pass" bill. Barack Obama categorically opposed it during the 2008 presidential election campaign. As of 2008, all 50 states have either applied for extensions of the original 11 May 2008 compliance deadline or received unsolicited extensions.


As of October 2009, about 25 states from the US have approved either resolutions or binding legislation not to participate in the program. Among other concerns they have argued that it infringes upon states’ rights. With Janet Napolitano, a prominent critic of the program as the head of US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the future of the law appears sealed. On 5 March 2011, the DHS postponed the effective date of the REAL ID Act. Through Document Number FR 5-08, DHS announced that US states would need to be in compliance with the REAL ID Act by 1 December 2017. Bills have been introduced into US Congress to amend or repeal it. The controversial, $4 billion REAL ID initiative was meant to provide secure licenses in the hands of 245 million Americans by 2017. The new proposal, Providing for Additional Security in States’ Identification (PASS ID) Act is expected to eliminate many of the more burdensome technological requirements. The BILL is meant to repeal title II of the REAL ID Act of 2005 and amend title II of the Homeland Security Act, 2002, to better protect the security, confidentiality, and integrity of personally identifiable information collected by states when issuing driver’s licenses and identification documents, and for other purposes.

It is surprising as to why Government of India, which has been keen on emulating REAL ID Act when it was adopted in the US, has developed cold feet in following the same example when it is practically abandoned there.


In India, when one looks at the definition of the “biometrics” which “means the technologies that measure and analyse human body characteristics, such as ‘fingerprints’, ‘eye retinas and irises’, ‘voice patterns’, ‘facial patterns’, ‘hand measurements’ and ‘DNA’ for authentication purposes”, as per Information Technology (Reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011 under section 87 read with section 43A of Information Technology Act, 2000, it becomes clear that the plan of data collection does not end with collection of finger prints and iris scan. It goes quite beyond it.


The fact remains biometric data like finger print, voice-print; iris scan and DNA do not reveal citizenship. Use of biometric technology, an advanced technique for the identification of humans, based on their characteristics or traits is unfolding. These traits can be face, fingerprint, iris, voice, signature, palm, vein, and DNA. DNA recognition and vein recognition are the latest and most advanced types of biometric authentication. Biometric technology is being deployed in the application areas like government, travel and immigration, banking and finance, and defense. Government applications cover voting, personal ID, license and building access whereas travel and immigration use biometric authentication for border access control, immigration and detection of explosives at the airports. Banking and finance sector use biometric authentication for account access and ATM security.


The International Biometric Industry Association (IBIA) has listed potential applications including voter registration, access to healthcare records, banking transactions, national identification systems and parental control. Indeed, “Biometrics are turning the human body into the universal ID card of the future”. Unmindful of dangerous ramifications of such applications, if citizens and political parties concerned about civil liberties do not act quickly enough, biometric ID’s are all set to be made as common as email addresses without any legal and legitimate mandate. Biometric information includes DNA profiling wherein biological traits are taken from a person because by their very nature are unique to the individual and positively identifies that person within an ever larger population as the technology improves.


In its 13 April 2013 report titled ‘Regional Economic Outlook, Asia and Pacific Shifting Risks, New Foundations for Growth’ as part of World Economic and Financial Surveys, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) notes that “India is planning to enhance its existing cash transfer program and identification system in connection with the ongoing subsidy reform”.


Elaborating it further, the report states, how “India has also been rapidly expanding its biometric uniform identification system (Aadhaar), which will establish an accurate and paperless means of identifying all Indians by 2014. This program will also present large opportunities for savings. A nationally uniform, biometric database would cut down on leakages from outdated biographical information, ghost identification, double registration, and other losses, which have been estimated in the range of 15%–20% of total spending.”


Underlining the convergence underway, it says, “The integration of these two programs, Aadhaar and direct cash transfers (DCT), promises further savings but will involve many challenges: the timeframe for bringing India’s population of 1.2 billion into the UID program could extend beyond 2014, and integrating this database with information on individuals eligible for subsidised fuel will take time. Shifting the fertiliser subsidy from companies to individual farmers and building up the capacity to deliver payments electronically could also be challenging in such a large country. But the total savings could be substantial: if the combination of direct cash transfer and Aadhaar eliminates the estimated 15% leakage cited above for the programs being integrated, savings could total 0.5% of GDP in addition to the gains from the better targeting of spending on the poor.”


Such claims are figments of IMF’s imagination unless the total estimated budget of the UID/Aadhaar project is disclosed. It is irrational for anyone to reach inference about benefits from any project without factoring in the costs, but World Bank (WB) Group is doing it and endorsing similar acts by UIDAI.


Not surprisingly, having applauded both biometric identification and cash transfer, the WB group President Jim Yong Kim underlined the importance of the subject in his opening remarks at the Bank's Development Economics Lecture series on 24 April 2013 in Washington. Nandan Nilekani, the chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and former chairman of Infosys Technologies also spoke there about the unique system for the biometric identification of Indian residents. It may be recalled that Robert B Zoellick, the then World Bank Chief met the chairman of the UIDAI on 4 December 2009. What transpired at these meetings is not in public domain.


In the aftermath of these meetings what is least talked about is that the e-identity and UID/Aadhaar-related projects are part of World Bank’s e-Transform Initiative formally launched on 23 April 2010 for converging private sector, citizen sector and public sector and Interpol’s e-identity database project. This, along with the then union finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee’s announcement on January 2011 voluntarily seeking full-fledged Financial Sector Assessment Programme by IMF and the World Bank, merits attention of the legislatures and concerned citizens.


On April 2010, L-1 Identity Solutions Inc, which has now been purchased by biometric technology company Safran group, a French corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between L-1 and the World Bank was signed as part of the launch of the initiative at a World Bank Spring Meeting event attended by many developing country ministers of finance and communications. It claimed that this collaborative relationship with the World Bank is meant to improve the way governments in developing countries deliver services to citizens as part of the launch of the World Bank eTransform Initiative (ETI).


The World Bank's ETI seeks to leverage Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to build a knowledge sharing network that helps governments of developing nations to leverage the best practices of practitioners like L-1 and others to improve the delivery of social and economic services. The knowledge sharing network will focus on areas such as electronic Identification (eID), e-Procurement, e-Health and e-Education; areas vital to promoting the participation of citizens in democratic processes, such as voting, and helping undocumented citizens get access to health and welfare programs. The World Bank is currently funding 14 projects related to e-government and e-ID around the world. Are citizens supposed to believe that the World Bank Group is working to ensure that India's national interest and its citizens’ rights are protected?


"The speed and precision with which developing countries administer services is dependent upon many factors, not the least of which is the ability to verify the identities of those receiving services," said Mohsen Khalil, Director of the World Bank's Global Information and Communication Technologies Department in a statement.


Robert V. LaPenta, Chairman, President and CEO of L-1 Identity Solutions had said, "We believe that identity management solutions and services can make a significant contribution to society and undocumented citizens in developing countries, bringing them out of anonymity and helping establish their place and participation in society and affirming their rights to benefits they are entitled to receive as citizens."


It has been underlined that the “game-changing UID applications in payments, savings, and other tools for driving efficiency and transparency” using “already created one of the world's largest platforms (that is)  transforming not only authentication but also everything from government payments to financial inclusion”. In effect, it is a case of biometric profiling by the IFIs who have vested interest in surveillance of financial transactions.


In his book ‘Imagining India’, Nilekani refers to Bank’s economist, Hernando de Soto's book 'The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else' to argue that national ID system would be a big step for land markets to facilitate right to property and undoing of abolition of right to property in 1978 in order to bring down poverty! In the post-capitalist and post-socialist era, such assumptions of triumph have been found to be deeply flawed. In fact, even the title of the books sounds weird in the post-financial crisis era.


In the Parliament, on 23 April 2013, Abdul Rahman, MP asked the Union Minister of Home Affairs about the percentage of the population covered under UID (Aadhaar), National Population Register (NPR) and Voters Identity Card, so far and the areas where information provided in these UID (Aadhaar), NPR and Voters Identity Card overlap; and the steps taken to avoid overlapping of the information contained therein.  The reply was given but what it did not disclose is that the overlapping is deliberate because the real motive of the entire exercise is to ensure convergence of all pre-existing databases and the databases under creation as envisaged by the IFIs.


In his written reply, RPN Singh, Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Parliament, “As per the Electoral Roll data 2012, the Election Commission of India has 75.84 crore registered general electors in India.’ He admitted that “the five demographic fields Name, Address, Gender, Age, Name of father/mother/guardian and the photograph are common.” It is not common as it provides the route for convergence.


It does not appear to be a coincidence that France-based Ronald K Noble, Secretary General, INTERPOL, and world’s largest police organisation too has called for global electronic e-ID identity card system. When Nilekani was asked about the relationship of UID/Aadhaar with the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) in an interview by Hard News magazine, his reply was “No Comments”. Isn’t global electronic e-ID identity card system proposed by INTERPOL, e-Identity project of World Bank Group and UID/aadhaar related databases linked? Is “No Comments” a convincing answer?


Biometric documentation of undocumented citizens in developing countries which is underway in some 14 developing countries under ETI is aimed at bringing them out of anonymity, without any legal mandate. Such documentation of sensitive data of citizens facilitates bullying and invasiveness by the state and international financial institutions.


Identifying citizens biometrically is an exercise in empire building by ‘commercial czars’ and turning citizens in to serfs. Modern day Jaichands, Mir Zafars, Jeewan Lals and Mirza Ilahi Bakshis are collaborating to help empire builders to earn myopic rewards through attempts to compromise citizens’ sovereignty for good.


The journey of biometric identification and numbering of Indians commenced a year after the first war of India’s independence was brutally suppressed by the army of British East India Company, with the help of collaborators like Jeevan Lal, Mirza Ilahi Baksh and Rajab Ali. The first systematic capture of hand images for identification purposes "was" initiated by William Herschel, a civil servant in colonial India in 1858. It is noteworthy that in 1898, Edward Henry, inspector general of the Bengal Police established the first British fingerprint files in London.


Referring to the British victory over Indians in 1857, William Howard Russell of London Times wrote: “Our siege of Delhi would have been impossible, if the Rajas of Patiala and Jhind (Jind) had not been our friends”. The seize of the database of personal sensitive biometric information of all the Indians would have been impossible but for the help of ‘commercial czars’ like Nilekani and the complicity of civil servants like C Chandramouli, the Census Commissioner and Registrar General of India responsible for biometric National Population Register (NPR).


Occupy Wall Street Movement has a pithy slogan: ‘Empire is on the Wall Street’. The exercise of biometric identification of citizens is a comprehensive intelligence initiative with financial surveillance at its core. The personal sensitive information like biometric data that is collected in myriad disguises and through numerous tempting claims about its benefits is going to be purchased by banks and other financial institutions to be correlated with other data, and used for purposes that was neither agreed nor foreseen. This data is bound to be stolen or illegitimately released, exposing citizens to risks of profiling, tracking and grievous embarrassments as has happened in the case of Greece, Egypt, Pakistan and UK.


So far legislators and citizens have failed to bring World Bank Group and other international financial institutions under legislative oversight. A situation is emerging where if the pre-existing databases like electoral database, census and other databases which are under preparation is converged, these unaccountable and undemocratic financial institutions will never come under parliamentary scrutiny. The identification and surveillance technology providers are appear to be aiding an empire of a kind where every nano activity is under the vigilance of the Big Brother.


The flawed assumption of Government of India that the benefits of biometric systems are sufficient to warrant use of biometric technology for financial transactions is misplaced. The citizens who are succumbing to such presumption are doing so because they are not informed about potential risks. The blatant use of financial rewards akin to bribes to promote citizen’s participation in biometric identification programs sets a very harmful precedent as it violates the principle of free and informed consent. Informed citizens and democratic legislatures can respond to it only through non-cooperation, civil disobedience and voting against parties which support the banker-biometric technology vendor nexus.


(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)

Ravi S
1 decade ago

Opponents of Aadhaar believe that snooping / surveillance cannot be done without Aadhaar. Then how Narendra Modi did the snooping of a girl in 2009 when Aadhaar did not exist? Intention of powerful matters a lot!
Honest Citizen
Replied to Ravi S comment 1 decade ago
A facetious reply! Can't all that you describe not be done with a PAN and other existing documents if honestly systematized, though things like black money and 'onion-hoarding' are surely done hand-in-hand with players at the top? Why implement without due parliamentary approval, which was in fact refused by the pertinent Standing Committee? Why issue Aadhaar to illegal immigrants in the first place?! Why store all Aadhaar data on servers conveniently accessible to the US? Has the Aadhaar architecture been tested by any credible agency for security, fidelity, repeatability so that it can be trusted for a population of 1.25 billion and more?! Anyhow, let's wait for the new govt, parliament and the Supreme Court to ratify Aadhaar!
Shankar Deb
1 decade ago
Dear Mr Ravi

I agree with you entirely in everything that you have written
Ravi S
Replied to Shankar Deb comment 1 decade ago

Ravi S
1 decade ago
Who is afraid of Aadhaar & Why?
As the public databases are getting inter-linked one by one thru Aadhaar Number in various States (particularly Delhi, Maharashtra, Andhra), we see the following effects:
1. Middlemen & Officials are finding difficult to continue with corruption in public welfare pensions, scholarships, public health, NREGA, subsidy on PDS Ration, Kerosene, LPG etc.
2. Ineligible, duplicate and fictitious beneficiaries are getting eliminated from public welfare pensions, scholarships, public health, NREGA, subsidy on PDS Ration, Kerosene, LPG etc.
3. Corrupts will find difficult to buy & sell Benami land & building (i.e.under fictitious name).
4. Corrupts will find difficult to open & operate Benami companies for money-laundering.
5. Corrupts will find difficult to open & operate Benami bank accounts for keeping black-money.
6. Tax-evaders will find difficult to evade taxes.
7. Impersonation & proxy will be difficult to commit.
8. Criminals & Terrorists will get detected and tracked thru inter-linked databases of mobile phone, bank account, travel documents etc.
9. Illegal Immigrants will get detected and tracked thru inter-linked databases of mobile phone, bank account, travel documents etc. They will have no place to hide on Indian soil.
10. It will get difficult for Criminals to hide as records are getting accessible to Police from any State of India.
11. It will get difficult to obtain another new Driving License and Arms License from another State once it got impounded.
12. Fraudsters will not be able to steal Provident Fund money.
13. Onion Hoarders will get tracked easily.
14. Dummy candidates will not be able to write competitive exams for others for the sake of money.
15. Ineligible people will not be able to misuse the certificates of income, domicile, education degrees and caste to deprive the eligible people.
Ravi S
1 decade ago
Privacy or subversion?
Some privacy champions raise the privacy issue which is irrelevant in a poor country like India where about 750 million people starve for 2-square meal, where illiteracy is high, where religion & caste-based-bias continues, rampant corruption & exploitation exists. They forget that India has a law called Information Technology Act 2000. It has been in existence since year 2000 that protects Aadhaar information along with other laws.

Aadhaar registration collects biometric data and bare minimum information (proof of identity, age, and residence) through enrollment form. Peruse the Enrollment-Form with data fields on page-1 and instructions on page-2. No profiling information is collected, like religion, caste, income, property-holding, education etc.

Privacy issues and risks equally apply to information and data (with or without biometrics) provided by people to census office, tax office, passport office, driving license, vehicle registration, land and building registration,
registration of birth, marriage and death, employers (current, past and prospective), banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, telephone service provider, television service provider, internet service provider, internet services (email, video, social media, search engine, chat, voice, file-storage and transfer etc.), registration at school/college, marriage bureaus, post-office and courier services, hospital registration and medical records, visa of US and UK etc.

In India, government departments, public and private sectors have been using biometrics (fingerprints and face photo) for years, decades and centuries in some or all offices. Examples of fingerprints usage are: Land and building registration (since British rule), Defense departments (fingerprints as service record of civilian as well as service
personnel since British rule till now, also for access and attendance now), Planning Commission of India (for access and attendance), census office (for compulsory NPR), Passport, RTO (for driving license), insurance companies, IT, BPO and healthcare companies (for access and attendance), visa of US and UK etc. Aadhaar does not violate any privacy or fundamental right.

India has seen anti-modernization protests in the past too. Some people caused bandh & hartals in protest against modernization and computerization of Banking & Rail-ticket 25 years ago. Today people are very happy to enjoy bank ATM and to book rail-ticket from anywhere. Then they had argued that paper records were better than computers. Now those protesters never want to reveal that they ever protested against computerization.
Ironically, there is no opposition to collection of biometric data at other points of services. People stand in long queues to imprint biometrics for obtaining Indian passport, US, UK visa. The attendance & access of most of the IT & ITeS companies are biometric based. The attendance & access of the Planning Commission of India is also biometric based. People have been imprinting all ten-fingers plus details of eyes and other identification marks on body on the first day of joining employment in Defense department of India (civilian as well as service personnel) since British rule of India. Yet one never opposed all that.
The use of electronic devices provides no privacy; such as mobile phone, internet (particularly social network media), email, television, bank card, traffic camera. At any moment the government and the service provider knows of geographical location of people, of conversation on phone, with whom, what we are reading, writing or watching on internet, and what TV channel we are watching, when and for how long. All this is done under electronic surveillance thru device identifiers like IMEI, IP address, GPS etc.

Embassies have switched over to mechanical type-writers in 2013 after CIA worker Snowden’s disclosures. Government also knows our movements thru the traffic cameras on roads, our vehicle number plate, our face etc.
Despite this knowledge, the privacy champions do not want to stop using mobile phones, internet, TV etc. Their sole objective is subversion of Aadhaar, nothing else, and they will not succeed because Aadhaar has already crossed the critical-mass on 15-Aug-2013 by enrolling about 450 million people, assigning 400 million Numbers and linking 30 million bank accounts for Direct Benefit Transfer across many states. And as of November-2013, 500 million Aadhaar have been assigned.
Bharat Varma
Replied to Ravi S comment 7 years ago
Just how do you spell "Consent"?
Mumbai One
Replied to Ravi S comment 1 decade ago
Looks like the PR of UIDAI is on a hit job.
Anyway...just give answers to two simple questions...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don't hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.
Bharat Varma
Replied to Mumbai One comment 7 years ago
Look, leaving aside all objections, one person truly got to the soul of it.

"13. Onion Hoarders will get tracked easily."
Shankar Deb
1 decade ago
All this business of privacy etc are issues raised by people who have no need of an UID, as they are already enjoying all the benefits of the services sector, such as banking etc.

How does one deliver banking and other services to those who have no residence proof or any other ID?

The UID was never conceived as a proof of citizenship, only as a proof of identity. That is, it proves you are whom you claim to be. And this is what the bankers require as a minimum to be able to offer financial services, and the government requires to be able to reduce graft in the welfare delivery schemes.

I see no reason to be paranoid if the bankers or the government knows where I am located or the state of my finances, from time to time, (they already know from other sources of information)and most certainly none of those who are currently excluded care one way or the other.

Comparing the issues relevant in the USA with India at this stage of our development is being elitist.
Arvind V
Replied to Shankar Deb comment 1 decade ago
Dear Mr. Deb,

The reality is- Our much vaunted IT companies are not able to win lucrative commercial contracts, as majority companies' business model is based on labour arbitrage & since the foreign IT companies have themselves opened offices in India, their one advantage, which is the reason for the success of their model is lost. Hence, they are forced to aim for low hanging fruits, with aid of crony capitalism. And our SECULAR Govt, with the aim of maximising minority voters is actively helping illegal immigrants acquire documents to legitimise their citizenship. As an aside, these illegal immigrants are also eligible for all the govt subsidy schemes, as they are supposed to be INDIAN CITIZENS. Hence, we can safely say that the sole reason for existence of a political party in India is to win subsequent elections & perpetuate their rule.
Shankar Deb
Replied to Arvind V comment 1 decade ago
Dear Mr Arvind

You have argued the following-

1. IT Cos no longer have the labour arbitrage advantage, so they are now influencing the govt to award lucrative Indian contracts.

I don't think this is valid, because the Indian IT sector has a turnover of USD 100 Billion, with exports of 70% in 2012.
Companies like TCS are way ahead of foreign companies such as Converges, IBM etc who are also working from India, and are winning contracts in the US, and other countries, against the best international competition, by billing the client on the effectiveness and cost savings of their services, and not the billable hours of their engineers working on the project.

It is something like Microsoft billing you on the cost savings you have achieved by using, say the MS Office program, rather than the cost of the software itself. And this is achieved by shear competence and not by labour arbitrage alone.

2. UIDs are meant to grant illegal immigrants citizenship.

Again this may not be correct, as the UID is NOT meant to be a proof of citizenship, but is a proof of identity, ie. this only proves you are who you claim to be.

I don't know what you mean by illegal immigrants. By and large there are citizens from 2 countries working in India without valid papers- Nepal and Bangladesh. Sometimes Bengali Muslims from Bengal are confused with Bangladeshis, and we seem to resent their presence, while there seems to be no back lash against the Nepalis. Is it because they are largely Hindus?

3. Muslims are being appeased for votes.

Muslims form less than 15% of the population, and I cannot see how they have been appeased. If there was a bias in their favour, then they would be better educated, wealthier, and their localities would have better infrastructure, like roads, water, electricity etc. And they would have govt jobs in excess of their population ratio. None of these are true, so how is there any appeasement?

On the other hand the politicians have tried their level best to ghettoize them by inducing fear through periodic violence, so that they can be driven to the folds of some political party who they think would keep them safe.

Muzaffarnagar being a case in point. Religious polarization is the worst kind of politics there is, and as this is an emotive issue, all other issues such as development, foreign policy, military strength, graft and corruption etc. get drowned out and the politicians then don't have to work for our vote, and show tangible results.

We are at fault for letting the politicians get away with such divisive emotive issues for the past 65 years, but for how long should we keep falling for such emotional traps?

The subject was UID- sorry to have transgressed.
Mumbai One
Replied to Shankar Deb comment 1 decade ago
How people comment without even knowing or understanding what they are commenting!
1. Aadhaar is not for Indian CITIZENS. It is for all RESIDENTS.(You can anytime check Govandi, Cheeta Camp area in Mumbai to see how many Bangladeshi have Aadhaar) And if it came into existence under the pretext of providing ID to underprivileged or unbanked population. WHY then the Govt is making it MANDATORY for all?
2. This shows complete lack of knowledge on ground realities, especially from the rural areas. There are no banks, no branches and you expect somebody on daily wages to skip his work for a whole day to go to the bank (mostly at Taluka place) to get the miniscule subsidy money?
3. To reduce graft in welfare delivery system, you need to implement it with open mind. Chech how Jharkhand has improved its PDS system that promises foodgrains to every eligible person.
4. Exact point. PSU Banks opened 30 lakh basic accounts with zero balance for the underprivileged population. ALL these accounts are dormant and there is not a single transaction for over a year.
5. Your elitist US does not have biometric based SSN or ID for social welfare system or welfare delivery system.
Shankar Deb
Replied to Mumbai One comment 1 decade ago
Govandi and Cheeta camp may well have many Bangladeshis, but if the way to identify them is by language, then it may be uncharitable to label every one who speaks Bengali as foreigners, and that includes Bengali Muslims.

Our domestic helpers sometimes have had to wait for months, for their relatives to travel to their village, to be able to send money home. They find the PO money order system expensive and sometimes unreliable. A bank account and an ATM card solves these issues efficiently.

We have also had domestics save money with us, in order that their money is not lost, stolen or mis-spent. These are classic banking services which they can avail of at least in cities.

The last mile connectivity with remote villagers accessing banking is an issue, as you have mentioned, and these issues need to be sorted out. But the solution lies with resolving the issues rather than excluding these people from banking and other facilities altogether.

Usage increases with familiarity. In Delhi you may spot many villagers shopping in malls, when even a few years ago they would hesitate to even enter the building.

Finally, we may disagree on everything but we need not be disagreeable.

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