Like many other things, government’s ambitious Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme too, may be a tablet PC away.
Combating outages and unreliable telephone links in many parts of the country, especially in the rural areas, the Centre is working towards introducing Aakash Tablet PCs as biometrics and smart card reader as the key component of the DBT roll-out.
An internal note prepared by the Group of Ministers (GoM) on the contentious Resident Identity Cards (RIC) says, “Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) is also experimenting with the use of low-cost tablets to which smart card and fingerprint readers can be attached.”
The local business correspondent who deals with a particular set of beneficiaries would have their biometrics in a pen-drive or as a software and all that he would require to do is to take the fingerprints on the touchscreen of the tablet to identify the beneficiaries.
“This will be like another application. This would also be very helpful in case of an emergency situation when, say, there is a terror attack and jammers are activated to prevent mobile signals,” C Chandramouli, census commissioner and Registrar General of India told HT.
The move is also a keen measure to save the R4,000 crore Resident Identity Card project that is facing opposition from within the UPA. After a stormy debate in a cabinet meeting a few months ago, where some ministers questioned the need of a RIC, the matter was referred to a GoM headed by defence minister AK Antony.
The GoM note also suggests that the price of smart card readers as pegged by ITI will come be Rs 18,000 for a single machine. Aakash tabs come at a much cheaper price.