Identifying Yourself!

Posted on April 17, 2010

Gitanjali Maria:

There are about 600 million people in India who have no proper means of identification. And proof of your identification is very essential to get a lot of things done. Some time ago we had taken a boy and his uncle to the government hospital; the boy was affected with meningitis and had also lost the use of his limbs and other muscles due to some kind of paralysis. The doctors advised us to go for a surgery and some tests. But the man was poor and he couldn’t afford it and neither did we have adequate resources to pool in for the amount. The hospital, because it was being run by the government, was to do the operation for free, provided we gave them our identification proofs and income proofs. But the man being a nomadic labourer didn’t have any of these and we had to use our own contacts to get the surgery done. This made us realize the need of having various identity proofs like ration cards, electoral cards, passport etc.

With the population census 2011 work underway and Unique Identification system also to be implemented, every person in India is now going to be identified and numbered. Counting and recording more than a billion people is no easy task and this is going to need money and effort.

Once the unique identification project is rolled out, each Indian citizen will have one unique identification number that will identify him/her. This will not just help the government track down individuals but will make life far easier for citizens as they will not have to submit so many documents each time they want to avail a new service – private or government. At present each department of the government or any agency adopts its own system of identification like PAN card, credit cards, driving license, electoral card etc. Application for each identity card requires a person to go through a whole lot of procedures and there occurs a lot of time delay.

A Unique Identification Number for every individual that can satisfy every department and office is hence, the need of the hour. A nationwide unique identification number can help in easier transaction of records between various departments and sectors and also avoid the need for multiple cards.

Added to this advantage is that every citizen of the country irrespective of whether he is rich or poor will be identified and presented with an identification number which will also help the poor in getting essentials at subsidized rates from the Public Distribution System, to get pension easily, to open bank accounts easily, get their names on the electoral list and so on. It would enable institutions to exchange information regarding defaulters and encourage responsible borrower behavior. It is also expected to help in strengthening our security measures and to identify and nab culprits easily. Also once you get your identity number it will remain with you till your death and you won’t have to get a new one every time you shift places.

The UID Authority under Mr. Nandan Nilekan will be responsible for creating and maintaining the core database and to lay down all necessary procedures for the issuance and usage of UID including arrangements for collection, validation and authentication of information, proper security of data, rules for sharing and access to information, safeguards to ensure adequate protection of privacy and all aspects related to all of these issues.

Human Resource is one asset that India has in plenty. Its 1.2 billion population is India’s strength. The Unique Identification Programme will help give a face to every Indian; from the peasant who ploughs the field day in and out to feed the nation, to the labourer who builds high rise buildings brick by brick, to the banker and the baker, to the politician and the industrialist, everyone would be identified and listed. It would be a unique list that contains every other detail about every single individual of the nation. Let us stand up and be identified!

The writer is a journalist of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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