For the last month i have been trying to find the location of the office that can register me for the Unique ID card system that Indian government released in the last year. The first impressions I had about it have been of pride. I am happy that after 65 years of independence there will be a more structured identification document within the system.
For those who don’t know what it is all about: The Government of India established an agency called, The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), that is responsible for implementing the AADHAAR scheme. AADHAAR is a unique identification project. It was established in February 2009, and will own and operate the Unique Identification Number database. The authority aims to provide a unique id number to all Indians, but not smart cards. The authority will maintain a database of residents containing biometric and other data. The biometric data includes electronically recorded fingerprints and iris scans (scan of the eye ball using a camera), which have internationally been accepted as unique identifiers for individuals.
The scheme has enormous benefits especially in centralizing the infrastructure and policy implementations within the country. If implemented properly it can provide a great support for internal security in the country. Check out the wiki page for more information on it.
But I must say, the recent reports and experiences of people who have undergone the procedure have marred its positives. Last couple of days I have been reading up on opinions and news articles related to the UID system. It has as usual been surrounded by a corruption and confusion. There have been reports of
- False registration centers
- False verification of documents
- No standards for the data collection
- Indefinite delays in processing
- Support systems lacking proper information about the various centers and procedures
- Outdated websites.
- The lack of set standards, with each state following its own rules and procedures
- The people initially involved in the program leaving for more lucrative opportunities, having garnered the UIDAI experience stamp on their profiles.
Those who left had come with a purpose. They pumped up their resumes with the UIDAI experience of working on a complex data management system, and then left when an opportunity came their way. We have recruited others,” the government official said. “They discovered they couldn’t have everything their way and there was a system in place they had to follow, and they left.
- The flawed nature of the system, using volunteers as the main tool for information gathering.
- Loss of support within the government ranks for the project.
- Divided views between ruling and opposition parties about the project. With opposition controlled states facing stagnation on the rolling out of the project.
- Confusion within the implementation teams
One official said travel bills started mounting. The UIDAI, which apparently hadn’t made it clear that only Air India flights’ fares would be reimbursed, refused to pay outstanding fares on other airlines.
- Flawed model
“The model was flawed as nobody will work for too long without being paid,” a UIDAI official said. “Goodwill and the temptation of having UIDAI on their resumes brought in a lot of private sector people but they didn’t understand the system. They saw it as a means to enter the government laterally.”
- The greatest threat in this chaos is the leak of sensitive information pertaining innocent citizens to radical factions of the society.
- And finally, no one knows why this card is useful, especially when it is not accepted anywhere.
My own experience has been honestly neutral. I was able to secure the UIDAI office phone number after a litter search on google, found the website and address in my city. Finally, when I reached there I was told by locals that it has now been closed and everything is moved to the headquarters in another location. They mentioned further that I should go there very early in the morning (before 7 or 8 am) collect a token and return back based on the time slot allocated to me when I collected the token. This is preposterous!! How can a working person be expected to take a day off just for making a UID card?
Although I am hopeful, for it is a move to a modern era from an outdated system. But the lack of proper governance and management skills of the government officials is finally showing up here as well. It is but with a heavy heart I am finally abandoning the quest to secure this ID. Until it reaches a state of better flow or it becomes mandatory (as many things unofficially become in India), I am deferring any more work on it. I would also not recommend anyone going for it, as I feel that this system or atleast the management team has not shown adequately the grasp on this humongous project. Unless they get their heads around this it will soon completely spiral out of control.