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UID project overambitious, say experts

mumbai Updated: Jan 23, 2011 01:33 IST
Reetika Subramanian
Reetika Subramanian
Hindustan Times
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It takes no more than candle wax and a tube of fevicol to deceive the unique identification project claimed JT D’souza, a Mumbai-based forensic expert, at a conference on ‘The implications of the UID project in India’ on Saturday.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), headed by Nandan Nilekani, is a mammoth project to provide Indian residents with a unique 12-digit identification number that will serve social welfare purposes. The enrollment process, which started in September 2010, is based on a mechanism that registers individual fingerprints and iris patterns of each and every resident of the country.

“Millions of Indians working in the agricultural sphere, on construction sites and other manual labour have worn-out fingers, resulting in what is technically referred to as low-quality fingerprints,” said D’souza, adding that there is a high probability of excluding them from the proposed benefits.

“The technical glitches in the system form just one part of this overambitious project,” said Usha Ramanathan, who has been closely tracking and debating the UID project. “It is a clear cut violation of privacy whereby all agencies associated with the UIDIA will have access to personal database.”

“We should not misunderstand UID numbering with an entitlement-based identity card,” said Dr Ramakumar, associate professor, Centre for Development Studies, TISS. “The project refers to Indians as ‘customers’ and there is no fixed budget that has been determined for the entire procedure.”

At an enrollment site in Delhi volunteers at the registration desk were a clueless lot, claimed Ramanathan. “The homeless were given addresses of NGOs that had allegedly adopted them, and the ages of most people were renegotiated,” she said.