June 23, 2013

Aadhaar and the rhetoric of fear

In this Indian Express article, Praveen Chakravarty writes about the preplexing paranoia surrounding Aadhaar cards.


"Aadhaar has a solitary purpose — to uniquely identify an individual. To accomplish this, it collects fingerprints of 10 fingers, retinal scans of both the eyes and tags these to the name, gender, address and date of birth of an individual. It guarantees zero duplication, that is, no two people in the pool of 1.2 billion people can have the same set of 10 fingerprints and two retinal identities.... Of the top 20 states, 12 states have more than half their residents covered under Aadhaar, with certain states like Andhra, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab and Tamil Nadu having more than 75 per cent of their residents covered. However, Aadhaar coverage in the border-sensitive states of West Bengal, Jammu andKashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and the Northeast is on average 44 per cent, less than the national average. Thus, there is a need to ramp up Aadhaar coverage in these states from an internal security perspective, not question the need for it.

The other Aadhaar phobia of the state invading privacy rights is more nuanced and complex. The Aadhaar database in itself has no other information about the individual other than biometrics, name, date of birth and address. Which is about the same information sans the biometrics that one can find of more than 600 million voters on the Election Commission website. Hence, the fear is more about the moral right of a state to collect personal biometric information of its residents for which there is no binary answer...Entitlement to welfare or other citizen rights cannot be solely on the basis of Aadhaar, which at best can be a authentication tool."



Read the full article here.

Topic : State Capacity / In : OP-EDS
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