October 4th, 2011
03:47 AM GMT
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New Delhi (CNN) – For most Indians living in poverty, their interaction with technology is minimal. But now, every Indian has the opportunity to have their irises and fingerprints scanned using cutting-edge technology.

This is part of the government’s massive effort to give every Indian citizen a biometric, 12 digit identity card. If successful, India will become the only country in the world with a universal biometric identity system.

Indians are flocking to government offices to get their I.D. cards made, attracted by opportunities such as welfare benefits and the ability to apply for bank loans that were previously unavailable or difficult to obtain for undocumented citizens.

Supporters also say it could help alleviate India’s endemic problems with corruption, which has resulted in massive protests in the past year.

The government efforts to document all its citizens began just a year ago, but Nandan Nilekani – chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, or UIDAI, and a founder of outsourcing software giant, Infosys – has high hopes for the effort.

“Our goal is to get to 1 million people a day to get to about 600 million people enrolled in the system in the next four years,” he said.

The initial stages of the documentation program is aimed at getting India’s poor population registered so that they will finally have access to government benefits without having to deal with an often corrupt local bureaucracy.

“With this card we’ll be able to get rations, rice, oil, wheat, sugar. All these things will be cheaper,” said Mira Devi, a migrant worker who recently obtained her biometric I.D. card.

Rickshaw driver Moti Lal hopes the I.D. card will open up more financial possibilities for himself and his family. “I got the card made cause I’m hoping I can open a bank account and I can take loans and save money for my kids,” he said.

While critics have expressed concerns that the government could use biometric data obtained in this effort against its citizens, people keep coming to get registered, hoping official documentation will make their lives a little easier.

 

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Filed under: AsiaGlobal ExchangeIndia


soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Yah buddy

    Nice.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:02 am |
  2. FCDLAW

    The rudimentary mark of the beast. Next, the world.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:48 am |
  3. Jashua

    Run sheep run to the front of the line so that you may suckle from the beast

    October 4, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  4. Riaz

    So this is to fight corruption ? Hmm.. how many will have to pay the government employees bribes just to prove that they are citizens.. millions !! There is no way to prove someone is a citizen in India except for ration card or voter id etc. To obtain those you have to pay hefty bribes.

    October 4, 2011 at 7:17 am |
  5. Nouman kiani

    sara@ india's arch rivals Pakistan already has the biometric database of its citizens and also being integrated with other services and India wont be the first in this field.Its true that biometric data can help in eradicating corruption but it will have a little effect on life of a poor indian.Correct data acqusition is also an issue in poor countries like India where people dont understand the system readily.

    October 4, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  6. Prasanna

    I hope its not turning into terminator kind of database which will be used by GOV to purge people..

    October 4, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  7. wasso

    I wonder if the ID will require indication of caste ? If so, how many categories are there ? I guess from "Untouchable" to
    "Big-Chief Brahman" !

    October 4, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  8. mavl

    India needs a one child policy.

    October 4, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  9. Navinder

    The Government of India's UID – Adhar ( Unique Identification) project is a huge project and once completed this will truly help India to fight the endemic corruption which a common Indian faces. This will avoid duplication and detection of fake accounts which people set up to take away benefits for poor. The technology exists and India has the resources to get this done, and the good thing is that it is run by industry pioneers like Nandan Nilekani and the projects integrates the biometric identification features which are most fool proof as now. This project is like vaccination program which once administered will help protect against widely prevailed corruption in India which has spread across all Government departments, but to make it 100% effective Indian government should also implement the much in demand "LOKPAL" bill which is a public ombudsman. The implementation of UID will ultimately happen in various applications, it is not about government holding citizen data, already private service providers ( ISP, Banks, Mobile operators, retailers) have access to most of the personal data ( like your date of birth, family names etc).

    October 4, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  10. Jack Levy

    the red dot on their forehead is India's embedded ID tagging system. India is very much advanced as you wouldn't expected!

    October 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  11. taz

    lets try feeding them first!

    October 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  12. Prassoon Suryadas

    CNN is builderberg lapdog. This is part of their propaganda to white wash an evil enslavement project toward NEW WORLD ORDER. search Google for "practical risks of aadhaar / uid project" and know more.

    October 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  13. Vindu

    India was there,is there and always will be there.
    One child policy is a very good idea, perhaps. But why India?

    October 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  14. collinsklai

    do you need an xmas loan if yes contact us via email collinsklain@hotmail.com

    October 20, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  15. book hotel first world

    I feel this is among the so much significant information for me. And i am satisfied studying your article. But should observation on few normal things, The web site taste is great, the articles is actually nice : D. Good activity, cheers

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