Much Ado About Nothing! The Identity crisis

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During the early 2000’s The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization had launched a major project called “Re-Inventing EPF India’ to provide world class service to all its clients. As part of this project a unique identity number called Social Security Number (SSN) is allotted to every Provident Fund subscriber. Social Security Number is a unique 14 digit identification number. Subscriber’s information is collected in prescribed SSN forms along with Photograph of the member.

Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was the first person in our country to receive a National Social Security Number (NSSN) in the year 2003 and probably he was also the last one to receive it. The much hyped launch of EPF project “Reinventing EPF India” is no were referred to or talked about today. I applied for a National Social Security Number in 2007; which I have not received yet. Can I have it before I apply for a new Aadhaar Card?

More than a few 100 crore rupees was drained in the process of re-inventing EPF. Is this amount accounted to or did it go into the swiss bank accounts of the politicians and the bureaucrats.

Few years later, the government came with another great idea termed as “UIDAI” – (Unique Identification Authority of India), launched in the year 2009.

Until the recent linkage of Aadhaar to the supply of domestic LPG (Cooking gas) cylinders, I never bothered to apply for an Aadhaar.  I nodded a yes to my wife, when I felt that an Aadhaar card related argument could lead us to a divorce. True that Indians make emotional decisions driven by social aspects to it like; my neighbour has purchased an LED TV; I too need one. Probably that was why; Onida’s award winning tag line was tagged as: Owner’s pride Neighbour’s Envy. The Marketers nail it on the right spot; which is leveraging on our weakness. With the adjunct of the UID to the list of our existing list of Identity cards; we are probably becoming more vulnerable to security threats, by exposing our finger prints and retina scans. Will the government be able to keep our records safe is the next big question.

The idea of linking a cooking gas cylinder was a good tactic applied by the government to have more enrollments for an Aadhaar card.  A cooking gas and an Indian house wife make an Aadhaar card mandatory for ones survival. While all this happens the irony is; the “UIDAI” website still claims; the Aadhaar card to be a voluntary one.

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While the foreign media took; great interest in the “Great Indian Identity crisis”, the Indian media preferred to burry such a grave issue under the carpet. They rather focused on larger scandals like the 2G, Coalgate and of course cricketers the Indian demigods.

Today, we have a Passport issued by External affairs Ministry, PAN Card issued by Finance Ministry, Driving license issued by regional transport office, Ration Card issued by state governments, Voters ID issued by the Election commission, NPR (National Population Register) issued by Ministry of home affairs and UID by UIDAI under the planning commission and the list goes on.

As far as I perceive, this problem; it’s  a matter of technology integration which could help solve this enigma. For the largest software exporter of this world (India) it should not be difficult, provided the different ministries collaborate with each other rather than trying to demystify the problem in isolation.

While the helpless common man is grappling with the Identity problem, the government is paving way for the next big scam.