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What The UID Conceals

STUDENT-10
Contributed By: Mr. Prem Kumar
Basic IAS Academy
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STUDENT 10

What The UID Conceals

The UID project has both ‘security’ and fo"k; igpku ifj;kstuk esa lqj{kk vkSj fodklRed nksuksa va'k 'kkfey
‘developmental’ dimensions. The former leads to an gSA igys ds vUrxZr gesa vkØked feyrh gS rks nwljk va'k gesa 'kj.k
invasive state; the latter leaves us with a retreating state. feyus dk vkHkkl nsrk gSA
1. Is identity the “missing link” in India’s efforts to
1 Hkkjr }kjk vius vki dks vkfFkZd fo'o'kfDr ds :i esa
rise as an “inclusive” economic superpower? Can an
identity-linked and technology-based solution change the fLFkr djus esa D;k igpku cuk ikuk ,d eq[; /kkj.k jgk \ D;k
face of governance in India? Given the euphoria around igpku laca/kh vkSj rduhd vk/kkfjr lek/kku Hkkjrh; iz'kklu dh
the Unique Identification (UID) project, one is tempted to fLFkfr esa ifjorZu ykus esa l{ke gksaxs\ fof'k"V igpku dh ifj;kstuk
believe so. However, a careful look at the project would dk lqjhyk izpkj rks gesa bu ckrksa ij fo'okl djus ij etcwj djrk
show that the euphoria is just hyperbole; only the politically gSA rFkkfi] ;fn bl ifj;kstuk dks /;kuiwoZd ns[ksa rks Li"V gks tkrk
naïve can afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of gS fd bl ;kstuk ds fo"k; esa gks gYyk epkuk dsoy jktuSfrd nkao gS]
this Orwellian project.
2.One can summarise the criticisms of the UID
ftls lHkor% bl nwjxkeh my>uksa dh vogsyuk djuk laHko ugha gksA
project under four heads. First, the project would 2- ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ifj;kstuk dh vkykspuk pkj 'kh"kZdkssa ds
necessarily entail the violation of privacy and civil liberties varxZr dh tk ldrh gSA igyk&;g ifj;kstuk vuko';d :i esa
of people. Second, it remains unclear whether biometric yksxksa dh futrk vkSj Lora=Rkk ds vf/kdkj dh vogsyuk gSA nwljk
technology — the cornerstone of the project – is capable ;g Li"V ugha gS fd ck;ksehfVªd rduhd&tks bl ifj;kstuk dk vax
of the gigantic task of de-duplication. The Unique gS & D;k bl ckr dh iqf"V djrk gS fd blesa MqIyhds'ku ugha gksxkA
Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) “Biometrics
ck;ksehfVªd LVSaMM~Zl desVh us bldh {kerk ij fVIi.kh djrs gq,
Standards Committee” has noted that retaining biometric
efficiency for a database of more than one billion persons
dgk gS fd bldh l{kerk dk] brus djksM+ yksxksa ds MkVk dks laHkky
“has not been adequately analysed” and the problem of ikus dh] lgh vkdyu vHkh ugha gks ik;k gSA fQj vaxy q h ds fu'kku
fingerprint quality in India “has not been studied in depth”. ds lac/a k es]a Hkkjrh; ifjizs{; es]a laHkkoukvkssa ij Hkh xgurkiwod
Z fopkj
Third, there has been no cost-benefit analysis or feasibility ugha gks ldkA rhljk bldk dher ds Lrj ij D;k ykHk gS bldk
report for the project till now. Finally, the purported benefits Hkh [kqyklk fdlh fjiksVZ esa ugha gqvk gSA vfUre lkekftd {ks=]
of the project in the social sector, such as in the Public ifCyd fMLVªhC;w'ku flLV~e esa ;g fdruk ykHknk;d fl) gksxk
Distribution System (PDS), are largely illusive. The problem
bldk vkdyu fd;k tkuk ckdh gSA MqIyhdsr jk'ku dkMksZa dh ckr
of duplicate ration cards is often hugely exaggerated. Even
so, some States have largely eliminated duplicate ration cards dks lkekU;r% cgqr c<+k&p<+kdj crk;k tkrk gSA fQj Hkh dbZ jkT;ksa
using “lower” technologies like hologram-enabled ration us gksyksxzke rduhd ds }kjk MqIyhdsV jk'ku dkMksZ dh la[;k de
cards. dj fn;k gSA
3.In this larger context, the UID project has two 3- c`gr ifjizs{; esa ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ifj;kstuk dks nks fof'k"V
distinct political dimensions. The first dimension is that the jktuSfrd vk;ke gSA igyk &;g ifj;kstuk fo'ks"k :i ls fodkl
project is fundamentally linked to “national security” dh vis{kk ^jk"Vªh; lqj{kk ls ewy:i ls tqMh+ gSA ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ,- vkbZ-
concerns rather than “developmental” concerns. In fact,
the marketing team of the UIDAI has always been on an
dks ekdsZfVax Vhe rks okLro esa bls ges'kk lqj{kkk dh n`f"Vdks.k ls
overdrive to hush up the security angle, and play up the ns[krh gS vkSj bls yqHkkouk cukus dh n`f"V ls fodkl dk eqík lkFk
developmental angle, to render it more appealing. esa tksM+ nsrh gSA
4.The first phase of today’s UID project was initiated 4- dkjfxy ;q) ds ifjizs{; esa ,u-Mh-,- ljdkj us o"kZ
in 1999 by the NDA government in the wake of the Kargil 1999 esa ;w-vkbZ-Mh- ds izFke pj.k dk dne mBk;k FkkA 2000 esa
War. Following the reports of the “Kargil Review Committee” dkjfxy ^leh{kk lfefr* vkSj 2001 esa ^xqzi vkWQ fefuLVlZ* dh
in 2000, and a Group of Ministers in 2001, the NDA
fjiksVksZa ds vk/kkj ij ,u-Mh-,- ljdkj us fu.kZ; fy;k fd izR;sd
government decided to compulsorily register all citizens
into a “National Population Register” (NPR) and issue a ukxfjd dk uke uS'kuy iksiqys'ku jftLVj esa ntZ gksuk vko';d
Multi-purpose National Identity Card (MNIC) to each gS rFkk izR;sd ukxfjd dks eYVh ijit uS'kuy vkbMsVa Vh dkMZ
citizen. To ease this process, clauses related to individual (MNIC) fn;k tkuk pkfg,A bl izfØ;k dks lqxe cukus dh n`f"V
privacy in the Citizenship Act of 1955 were weakened ls 2003 esa ,d la'kks/ku ykdj ukxfjd ,DV 1995 dks detksj dj

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STUDENT 10

through an amendment in 2003. In sum, the ground work fn;k x;kA la{ksi esa jk"Vªh; vkbZ-Mh- ifj;kstuk dk ewy dk;Z 2003
for a national ID project was completed by 2003 itself. esa gh iwjk dj fy;k x;k FkkA
5.The parallels between the UPA’s UID and the NDA’s 5- ;w-ih-,- ljdkj ds ;w-vkbZ-Mh- vkSj ,u-Mh-,- ljdkj dh
MNIC are too evident to be missed, even as the UPA sells
,e-,u-vkbZ-lh dh lekurk dh vogsyuk laHko ugha] ;|fi ;w-ih-,-
UID as a purely “developmental” initiative. The former chief
of the Intelligence Bureau, A.K. Doval, almost gave it away ljdkj ;w-vkbZ-Mh- dks iw.kZr% fodkl'khyrk* ls tksM+dj is'k dj jgh
recently, when he said that UID, originally, “was intended gSA baVsfytsl a C;wjks ds iwoZ izeq[k ,-ds-Mksoy us ;w-vkbZ-Mh- dks ;g
to wash out the aliens and unauthorised people. But the dgrs gq, udkj fn;k fd ewy :i esa ;w-vkbZ-Mh- dk mís'; ^fons'kh
focus appears to be shifting. Now, it is being projected as vkSj vizkf/kÑr yksxksa dks [kRe djus dk FkkA fdUrq vc vk;ke cny
more development-oriented, lest it ruffle any feathers”. jgk gSA vc bls fodkl ls tksM+dj iz;ksftr fd;k tk jgk gSA
6.The potential of the project to unleash a security 6- bl ifj;kstuk dks ysdj lqj{kk dk tks Hk; gS ogh dkj.k
frenzy is the reason why privacy concerns have to be taken
gS fd futrk dh fpark dks Hkh xaHkhjrk ls fy;k tkuk pkfg,A ljdkj
seriously. The government and the UIDAI have made it
appear as if the purported, and unsubstantiated, benefits of vkSj ;w-vkbZ-Mh-vkbZ- us ,slk ekgkSy cuk fn;k gS tSls ;fn bl
“good governance” from the project eclipse the concerns ifj;kstuk ls vPNs iz'kklu dks nwj dj fn;k tk, rks ;g futrk vkSj
regarding privacy and civil liberties. This is where the yksd Lora=rk ds f[kykQ gks tk,xkA ;gh leL;k dh tM+ gSA
problem lies. A foundational understanding in the study of O;fDrxr Lora=rk dh ewy le> ds v/;;u ds fo"k; esa veZR;lsu
individual freedoms, pioneered by scholars like Amartya tSls fo}ku Hkh ekurs gSa fd O;fDrxr~ Lora=rk ds vf/kdkj dks cpk
Sen, is that consequence-independent absolute rights are
ikuk blls cgqr eqf'dy gks tk;xkA vr% ,d vktknh ls nwljh
rather hard to defend. Hence, the demand to trade-off one
freedom for another (here, the “invasive loss” of privacy
vktknh ¼fodkl ds fy, futrk esa ?kql iSB½ dh ekax mB [kM+h gks
for “development”) is an untenable demand. Each freedom, jgh gSA izR;sd izdkj dh vktknh] Lora= :i esa dherh gS vr% fdlh
independently, has an instrumental value, and the loss of Hkh ,d izdkj dh vktknh dk [kks tkuk O;fDr dh {kerk ij izHkko
one freedom undermines the individual’s overall capability Mkysxh tks vU; izdkj dh vktkfn;ksa dks Hkh izHkkfor dj ldrh gSA
to expand up on other freedoms. No wonder then that Sen vr% blh ifjizs{; esa rc vk'p;Z ugha gksrk tc veZR; lsu ;w-vkbZ-
himself has voiced the privacy concern regarding the UID Mh- ifj;kstuk ds fo"k; esa futrk ij fpark O;Dr djrs gSA
project.
7- blh ls tqM+h fpUrk gS iqfyl vkSj lqj{kkcyA ;fn
7.There is a related concern: police and security
forces, if allowed access to the biometric database, could ck;ksehfVªd MkVkcsl dh igq¡p dh btktr feyrh gS rks fujUrj
extensively use it for regular surveillance and investigative fuxjkuh vkSj tkapiM+rky ds fy, bldk mi;ksx c<+ tk,xk ftlls
purposes, leading to a number of human rights violations. dbZ izdkj ds ekuo vf/kdkjksa dk mYya?ku 'kq: gks tk,xkA dgha ppkZ
As Amartya Sen has argued elsewhere, forced disclosure djrs gq, veZR; lsu us ;g rdZ fn;k Fkk fd tcjnLrh dh xbZ tkap]
and loss of privacy always entailed “the social costs of the vkSj futrk dk guu ges'kk tkapiM+rky vkSj iqfyl ls tqM+s dk;ZØeksa
associated programmes of investigation and policing”. esa lkekftd dher pqdkusa ij etcwj gksrk gSA muds vuqlkj&bl
According to him, “some of these investigations can be
particularly nasty, treating each applicant as a potential
izdkj dh dqN tkap&iM+rky nq[kn Hkh fl) gks ldrh gS tgka izR;sd
criminal.” O;fDr esa laHkkfor nks"kh dhs ekufldrk iSnk gksrh gSA
8.The second dimension of the UID project is the 8- ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ifj;kstuk dk nwljk vk;ke ;g gS & blds
following: it would qualitatively restructure the role of the }kjk lkekftd Lrj ij jkT; dh Hkwfedk esa lq/kkjkRed <kaps dk iqu%
state in the social sector. Contrary to claims, the UID project fuekZ.k laHko gks ldrk gSA nkoksa ds foijhr] ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ifj;kstuk
is not an instrument to expand India’s social security system, fdlh Hkh izdkj Hkkjrh; lqj{kk i)fr dks c<+kus dk tfj;k ugha gSA
for whatever it is worth. Instead, the aim is to keep benefits
cfYd bldk mís'; rFkkdfFkr yf{kr oxZ dks ykHk igqapkus ek= dk
restricted to the so-called “targeted” sections, ensure targeting
gS rkfd ljdkjh O;; dks lhfer fd;k tk ldsA iz/kkuea=h us Lo;a
with precision and thereby, limit the government’s expenditure

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STUDENT 10

commitments. None other than the Prime Minister has made Li"V fd;k gSA ,u-Mh-lh- dh 24 tqykbZ 2010 dh dkUÝsl a dks lEcksf/
this amply clear. Addressing the National Development Council kr djrs gq, mUgksua s dgk fd ^vkus okys o"kksZa esa -------- gesa ------ vius
(NDC) on July 24, 2010, he noted: “to reduce our fiscal deficit fQldy MsfQflV dks de djus ds fy, ----- vkyf{kr lfClMh dks
in the coming years, … we must [be] … reducing the scale of de djuk gksxk* ;w- vkbZ- ,u- ,l- ds dk;Zjr~ gks tkus ls gesa yf{kr
untargeted subsidies. The operationalisation of the Unique
lfClMht dks izHkkoh :i ls de djus ds volj feysaxsA
Identification Number Scheme … provides an opportunity to
9- ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ,- vkbZ- dk nkok gS fd ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ls
target subsidies effectively.”
9. The UIDAI claims that UID would help the
ljdkj dks dbZ lh/ks ykHk izkIr djus esa lQyrk feysxhA okLro esa
government shift from a number of indirect benefits into direct bl izdkj jkT; dh Hkwfedk lh/ks&lh/ks vkSj Li"V gksdj mejsxhA ;w-
benefits. In reality, such a shift would represent the opposite: vkbZ- Mh- ,- vkbZ- ds fy, ;w- vkbZ- Mh- l'kDrhdj.k dk ,d vkStkj
a transformation of the role of the state from a direct provider cusxkA ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ds }kjk ljdkj dks lkekftd lsokvksa gsrq
to an indirect provider. For the UIDAI, the UID is a tool of ukxfjdksa dks igpkuuk ljy gks tk,xkA ih-Mh-,l- ¼ifCyd fMLVªhC;w'ku
empowerment. In reality, the UID would be an alibi for the state flLVe½ esa ;g lcls izHkko'kkyh fl) gksxkA
to leave the citizen unmarked in the market for social services. 10- lh/kk rdZ ;g gS fd ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ifj;kstuk Hkkjr ds
Nowhere is the illustration more telling than in the case of the ih-Mh-,l- dks fc[kjus djus dh ,d cM+h dksf'k'k gSSA bldk mís';
PDS. ih-Mh- ,l- ds LFkku ij [kk|iwfrZ djus ds fy, fiNys njokts
10. Let me state the argument upfront. The UID project
[kksyuk gS tks ckn esa /khjs&/khjs [kk|kiwfrZ djus ds fy, fiNys njokts
is part of a larger effort to dismantle the PDS in India. The aim
[kksyuk gS tks ckn esa /khjs&/khjs [kk|kiwfrZ vkSj caVokjk ljdkj ds lkFk
is to ensure a back-door entry of food stamps in the place of
PDS, and later graduate it to a cash transfer scheme, thereby
ls iwjh rjg fudy tk,xkA
completing the state’s withdrawal from the sphere of food 11- ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ,- vkbZ- ds vuqlkj ;w- vkbZ-Mh- dk lcls
procurement and distribution. egRoiw.kZ ykHk ;g gksxk fd vkids ikl ih-Mh-,l- dks ^pfyr* i)fr
11. According to the UIDAI, the most important benefit gksxhA ;kfu fd vkids ikl ,slh i)fr gksxhA ftlds }kjk vki ¼;kfu
from the UID could be that you could have a “portable” PDS. fd ,d LFkku ls nwljs LFkku ij dke ds fy, tkus okys etnwj½
In other words, you could have a system where you (say, a Hkkjr Hkj esa dgha Hkh viuk ih-Mh-,l- dksVk [kjhnus esa l{ke gks
migrant worker) could buy your PDS quota from anywhere in tk,xsA ;g nkok] gkykafd] [kks[kyk vkSj /kks[kk nsus okyk gSA bls
India. The claim, of course, has a deceptive appeal. One would le>us ds fy, xgjkbZ esa tkuk gksxkA
have to dig deeper to grasp the real intent. 12- orZeku Qs;j izkbl 'kkWIl (FPS) i)fr dks ysa rks]
12. If we take the present fair price shop (FPS) system,
izR;sd nqdku ij dqN [kkl la[;k esa ifjokj ntZ gSA bUgsa dsoy bUghsa
each FPS has a specified number of households registered to
ntZ ifjokjksa ds fy, vukt miyC/k djk;k tkrk gSA bu nqdkunkjksa
it. The FPS stores grains only for the registered households.
The FPS owner would not know how many migrants, and for
dks D;k irk pysxk fd fdrus yksx nwljh txg ls vk, gS] fdrus
what periods, would come in and demand their quota. Hence, le; ds fy, vk, gSa vkSj dc os vius fy, fu/kkZfjr vukt ekaxus
for lack of stock, he would turn away migrant workers who vk igqapsxAsa vr% lkeku dh deh dkj.k og mu yksxksa dks vUu nsus
demand grains. Hence, the FPS system is incompatible with ls badkj dj nsxkA vr% ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ls laca/k ih-Mh-,l- ds {ks= esa
the UID-linked portability of PDS. There is only one way out: ,Q-ih-,l- i)fr dkjxj ugha gSA ,ssls esa ,d gh jkLrk cprk gS] ,Q-
do away with the FPS system, accredit grocery shops to sell ih-,l- i)fr dks pykus ns]a xzkljh 'kkWIl ij vUu cspus fn;k tk,]
grains, allow them to compete with each other and allow the nksuksa dks vkil esa rkyesy cSBkus fn;k tk, vkSj nqdkunkjksa dks
shop owners to get the subsidy reimbursed. This is precisely lfClMh dks vkil esa ckaV ysus nh tk,A dqy feykdj [kk| LVkEi
what food stamps are all about; no FPS, you get food stamps dk ;g lR; gSA dksbZ ,Q-ih-,l- ugha] ,d jkf'k ds cjkcj dh vki
worth an amount, go to any shop and buy grains (on why food
dks [kk| eqgj feysxh] fdlh Hkh nqdku ij tkb, vkSj vukt [kjhn
stamps are deeply problematic, see Madhura Swaminathan,
yhft,A ¼3] vxLr 2004 dks ^n fgUnw* esa izdkf'kr e/kqjk LokehukFku
“Targeted Food Stamps”, The Hindu, August 3, 2004).
13. What is interesting is that everyone, except those
dk ^rkjxsVsM QwM LVkWEil* uked ys[k esa ppkZ gS fd [kk| eqgj dh
enamoured by the UID glitter, appears to know this. On its leL;k, D;k gksx a hA½
part, UIDAI officially accepts that food stamps become easier 13- fnypLi ckr rks ;g gS fd ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ped ned
to implement with the UID. So does the Planning Commission, ls f?kjs yksxksa ds bykok lHkh ;g ckr tkurs vkSj le>rs gSAa ;w- vkbZ-
which sees the UID as the fulcrum around which its plans to Mh-,-vkbZ- vkSipkfjd :i ls Lohdkj djrh gS fd ;w- vkbZ- Mh ds ek/
“reform” the PDS revolve. It turns out that an opposition to ;e ls [kk| fVdV dk dk;kZUo;u vklku jgsxkA ;gh ekuuk ;kstuk

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STUDENT 10

the dismantling of PDS, and to food stamps, also involves an vk;ksx dk Hkh gS] mls yxrk gS fd bl izdkj ih-Mh-,l- i)fr esa Hkh
opposition to the UID. lq/kkj vk,xkA os bl ckr ls bUdkj djrs gS fd ih-Mh- ,l dks
14. On his part, Nandan Nilekani has been showcasing fc[ksjus] [kk| fVdV dks ykuk ;w- vkbZ- Mh- dk fojks/k gSA
his extraordinarily poor understanding of India’s developmental 14- uUnu fudsru us Hkkjrh; fodklkRed izkFkfedrkvksa
priorities. According to him, “in the Indira years, the slogan
dks le>us esa Hkkjh ewy dh gSA muds vuqlkj & bafnjk dky esa ukjk
was garibi hatao. Then it was roti, kapda, makaan. In the last
Fkk xjhch gVkvksAa ckn esa ukjk vk;k jksVh&diM+k vkSj edkuA fiNys
few years, it was bijli, sadak, pani.” However, these slogans are
“passé”; the in-thing is the slogan “UID number, bank account,
dqN o"kksZa esa ukjk Fkk fctyh] lM+d ikuhA vc ;s lc ukjs iqjkus iM+
mobile phone.” Such an inverted world view, totally divorced pqds vc u;k ukjk gS& ;w- vkbZ- Mh- uEcj] cSd a [kkrk la[;k] eksckby
from the grim realities of poverty, has prompted critics to call QksuA xjhch tSlh xaHkhj leL;k ds Hkwy ls cgqr nwj dh ;g
AADHAAR as just NIRAADHAAR! fo'oO;kih n`f"V ds dkj.k vkykspdksa dk dguk gS vk/kkj&fujk/kkjA
15. In conclusion, the UID project is marked by both 15- fu"d"kZr% ;w- vkbZ- Mh- ifj;kstuk essa lqj{kk ,oa fodkl
“security” and “developmental” dimensions. The former leads nksuksa vk;ke fufgr gSA igyk vkØked fLFkfr gS rks nwljk gesa 'kj.k
to an invasive state; the latter leaves us with a retreating state. feyus dh vuHkwfr djkrk gSA nksuksa gh izdkj ukxfjdksa dks gh gkfu
Either way, the “citizen” is worse off. gksus okyh gSA
( R. Ramakumar is with the Tata Institute of Social 16- vkj- jkedqekj eqEcbZ fLFkr VkVk baLVhV~;wV vkWQ
Sciences, Mumbai.)
lks'ky lkbalst esa dk;Zjr~ gSaA

Courtesy : - The Hindu


Disclaimer: This article has been translated exclusively for IAS Aspirants convenience and study purposes.
Author doesn't take responsibility of view expressed or accuracy of the content."

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