Connect With Us

22. 1.2 Billion People in India to be Given Biometric ID Cards

India’s 1.2 billion citizens are to be issued biometric identification cards. The cards will hold the person’s name, age, and birth date, as well as fingerprints or iris scans, though no caste or religious identification. Within the next five years a giant computer will hold the personal details of at least 600 million citizens, making this new information technology system the largest in the world. The project will cost an estimated $3.5 billion. The 600 million Indians will receive a sixteen-digit identity number by 2014 in the first phase of the project.

Student Researcher:

  • Danielle Caruso (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator:

  • Rashmi Singh (Sonoma State University)

India’s red tape is legendary: citizens have dozens of types of identity verification, ranging from electoral rolls to ration cards, yet almost none can be used universally. The new system will be a national proof of identity, effective for everything, from welfare benefits to updating land records. Forty-two percent of India’s population is below the poverty line and citizens frequently move in search of jobs. The government believes the ID system will help citizens because they will no longer have a problem identifying themselves. The biometric identity number will be entered every time someone accesses services from government departments, driver’s license offices, and hospitals, as well as insurance, credit card, telecom, and banking companies. By bringing more people into the banking system, Indian officials also hope to raise the number of people paying income taxes; currently, less than 5 percent of the population pays income taxes.

The head of Oxfam India, Nisha Agarwal, says a lack of identity verification is a major problem, especially for urban migrants. As a result, they are excluded from dozens of government programs, which offer cheaper food, jobs, and other benefits for poor people. “They remain treated as temporary migrants and, without that piece of paper, some form of identification, they are not able to access many of these government schemes that exist now, that have large funds behind them and could actually make a huge difference in poor people’s lives.”

The scheme is the brainchild of Nandan Nilekani, one of India’s best-known software tycoons and now head of the government’s Unique Identification Authority. “We are going to have to build something on the scale of Google, but it will change the country . . . every person for first time [will] be able to prove who he or she is. . . . We are not profiling a billion people. This will provide an ID database which government can access online. There will be checks and balances to protect identities,” said Nilekani, who has also been in talks to create a personalized carbon account so that all Indians might buy “green technologies” using a government subsidy.

The government also plans to use the database to monitor bank transactions, cell phone purchases, and the movements of individuals and groups suspected of fomenting terrorism. In January 2010, the Ministry of Home Affairs began collecting biometric details of people in coastal villages to boost security; the gunmen in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 165 people, sneaked into the country from the sea.

Critics say the project will turn India into an Orwellian police state that will spy on citizens’ private lives. “We do not want an intrusive, surveillance state in India,” said Usha Ramanathan, a lawyer who has written and lobbied against the project. “Information about people will be shared with intelligence agencies, banks and companies, and we will have no idea how our information is interpreted and used.” Civil liberty campaigners fear the ID card will become a tool of repression. Nandita Haskar, a human rights lawyer, said, “There is already no accountability in regards to violations of human and civil rights. In this atmosphere, what are the oversight mechanisms for this kind of surveillance?”

India’s plunge into biometric identification comes as countries around the globe are making similar moves. In 2006, Britain approved a mandatory national ID system with fingerprints for its citizens before public opposition prompted the government to scale back plans for a voluntary pilot program beginning in Manchester. United States senators have proposed requiring all citizens and immigrants who want to work in the country to carry a new high-tech social security card linked to fingerprints as part of an immigration overhaul.

Sources:

Randeep Ramesh, “1.2 Billion People in India to be Given Biometric ID Cards,” Guardian, September 16, 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/16/india-population-biometric-id-cards.

Anjana Pasricha, “India Begins Project to Issue Biometric Identity Cards to All Citizens,” Voice of America News, September 24, 2009, http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/a-13-2009-09-24-voa18-68709357.html.

Corporate Media Source:

Rama Lakshmi, “Biometric Identity Project in India Aims to Provide for Poor, End Corruption,” Washington Post, March 28, 2010, A8.

  • Club Penguin pin tracker October 3, 2010

    Do you own one?

  • CS October 13, 2010

    I think they should go through with it. This would give people around the world a look at the potential benefits, abuses and draw backs of such a system.
    I think it would be great if we could track a child that has been kidnapped (and who took them), track whether someone was around a murder victim when they were murdered, or find a missing person (or at least their body). It would be less of a hassle to prove age for movie theaters, alcoholic drink, cigarettes etc. when all you have to do is swipe your hand over some sort of sensor. Identity theft would be harder or near impossible. So long as it is just used for identification purposes and not as an account for purchases, it could improve everything.

    • Asaunde2 4 8 16 November 30, 2011

      1.2 billion people can not be used as an experiment for the rest of the world to observe! They explicitly say that it will be used to track potential terrorists as a side function, which is political speak for keeping tabs on anyone against the ruling power, even in a democratic egalitarian government. A system like this is very likely to be abused disastrously,at some point in time, if not immediately. We see who is tracked even without these tools in the republican USA

  • tlw October 15, 2010

    India’s repressive tactics are legendary, second only to those of the Muslim or Communist world. A government that is willing to kill its own citizens, as India has done, should not carry out such an Orwellian enterprise.

  • lily October 17, 2010

    I pray…please do not let this happen in India. Protect the people of India. Protect all of the people of this world, and let us turn our lives in the direction of freedom, peace, love, and respect for all

  • Miguel October 25, 2010

    If this can be executed while maintaining ethical use of information, it would be a cause of celebration, for a great degree of trust and responsibility will have been reached for once between governing forces and those governed. there is no doubt that significant improvements in life quality could be provided for many people, it would be nothing short of a miracle if all goes well.

  • jai October 26, 2010

    Well… India has more freedom that the US in these times…atleast our media hollds us accountable and lets people question the govt. ..
    [ though the media also goes overboard with drama many a times ]
    the media brought out the truth about Commonwealth games organizing and corruption …unlike wat china did with the olympics…and good cheer for that … we in india will ofcourse watch the positives and negatives of such a bio metric system and hold our govt. accountable [ yes our govt. are corrupt like elsewhere but they arent neurotic/psychotic like few others to be polluting and murdering the world over …and we still have freedom to hold them goddamn accountable…and we will continue to do so…even at the cost of our lives
    and thank god for that ! an young indian

  • Vivardo October 27, 2010

    @ Jai: You seem to have forgotten the press coverage gained by ‘Paid News’ recently. No mainstream media covered it to a good extent. The way our own Press Council of India repressed the story, it was extremely shameful.

  • Prof. Dharm Reese October 27, 2010

    PRAY THIS NOT BE SO. Mother India, pray for the mugged men of muggers. Either one lives FOR LIFE, and accepts UNCERTAINITY as an essential aspect of TRUST, or one adopts this BONITO MUSSOLINNI modus opreandi of the current INDIAN DOMINATOR G*D-less government VIPS.

    SLAVES of the Motherland, we salute you. Mark of the Beast, or MASS MURDER?

    Veri-chip research in U.S.A. shows that CHIPS IN PETS CAUSE CANCERS IN PETS. Pissed pet owners are suing chip makers, and winning in court. Chip makers lied about health. People in INDIA should re-think their GEORGE ORWELL, CONCENTRATION CAMP dream.

    G*D already gave every one their own Belly Button. What more is needed? HEART!

    Bad idea, INDIA. Seems BONKERS.

  • Despina Knell November 29, 2010

    Si vous cherchez un avocat d’affaires redoutable…Je maintiens : redoutable. J’ai été stupéfait par leur professionnalisme, leur prestence et leur ténacité…de véritables vainqueurs.

  • Jarred Seligmann December 19, 2010

    Hi. I just noticed that your site looks like it has a few code errors at the very top of your website’s page. I’m not sure if everybody is getting this same problem when browsing your site? I am employing a totally different browser than most people, referred to as Opera, so that is what might be causing it? I just wanted to make sure you know. Thanks for posting some great postings and I’ll try to return back with a completely different browser to check things out!

  • mikwillson December 20, 2010

    I am employing a totally different browser than most people, referred to as Opera, so that is what might be causing it? I just wanted to make sure you know.

  • Aric December 28, 2010

    Verifying identity is key in the developing world mostly because of the legalistic implications, most importantly in the enforcement contracts and property tight. In the west we take the fact that our identity has been verified by a third party for granted. Just imagine if that were all to go away. Nothing you own would be safe.

  • John of Perth January 1, 2011

    I hope that this will stop or slow up the people trade where young children / children are being taken for slavery, spare parts, adoption or prostitution.

    2 Months ago on a visit to Kolkata, my wife talked to woman whose child was taken and as the police required a bribe before they would consider action and the mother had no resources, nothing was done. She lived on the streets and is handicapped with club feet.

    My wife was told of several other children sold recently.

    This should also reduce the problems of fraud at elections.

    Yet in India, corruption rules, so keeping things accurate is probably problematic.

  • Dara Smythe January 20, 2011

    My God! How many starving children living in utter squalor and dying every day in this country could be fed decent meals by the amount to be spent on this horse crap?!
    The entire world is rapidly going mad.

  • Damn Damien January 22, 2011

    This will indeed be a great way to set up an identification system in India. Unlike in the US, where both political parties are in favor of surveillance, in India the diversity of political parties will ensure that there is no large scale abuse of the system.
    Though it seems that $3.5 billion could be better used immediately to feed the hungry, in no time a better monitoring of income taxes and welfare system will outweigh the costs. Reality is sometimes painful.

  • Jade February 12, 2011

    For those of you who are speaking out against chip implants, that isn’t what is currently happening to India’s citizens. The biometric identity cards have a computer chip in them, proving identity, but we haven’t gone as far as to insert chips into peoples hands yet.

  • X X October 27, 2011

    We’re expendable, ignorant cattle in their giant corporate profit mill. How many secret wars, Agent Orange deployments, 10s of millions slaughtered, massive human-induced famines, bone cancer metropolises and engineered economic collapses does it take to drive home this obvious point?  Soylent Green was a powerful metaphor whose predictions are increasingly becoming a reality.  The best resistance is to ***STOP HAVING CHILDREN*** and to try as much as possible to either separate from the CASH ECONOMY or refuse to buy products made by any large corporation.

  • Artisticidea October 27, 2011

    We’re expendable, ignorant cattle in their giant corporate profit mill. How many secret wars, Agent Orange deployments, 10s of millions slaughtered, massive human-induced famines, bone cancer metropolises and engineered economic collapses does it take to drive home this obvious point?  Soylent Green was a powerful metaphor whose predictions are increasingly becoming a reality.  The best resistance is to ***STOP HAVING CHILDREN*** and to try as much as possible to either separate from the CASH ECONOMY or refuse to buy products made by any large corporation.

  • Asaunde2 4 8 16 November 30, 2011

    1.2 billion people can not be used as an experiment for the rest of the world to observe! They explicitly say that it will be used to track potential terrorists as a side function, which is political speak for keeping tabs on anyone against the ruling power, even in a democratic egalitarian government. A system like this is very likely to be abused disastrously,at some point in time, if not immediately. We see who is tracked even without these tools in the republican USA

  • Juan Camilo Montoya August 17, 2013

    We are working on bringing this same project to life in Colombia South America where the crime rate is one of the highest in the world. People here end of missing never to be seen or found ever again. They just simply disappear. With the chip this would never happen again. We would find the lost and the missing right away.

    looking for support and funding to make this possible, if you have ideas or want to be apart of this project, contact us at allshipservices@gmail.com or call us at 01157 321 781-2139.

    Send your donations to

    JUAN CAMILO MONTOYA PAREJA
    BANCO BBVA
    OFICINA SABANETA ANTIOQUIA
    COLOMBIA SOUTH AMERICA
    Account Number:……0013-0313-97-0200 015 695
    Savings account
    Swift Code:………Gerocobb

    • Chemae James September 28, 2013

      Hi Juan Camilo Montoyapareja
      This will be the worst mistake of your life if you get chipped, do you know that getting chip is the 666 mark of the beast. This is written up in the bible (Revelation 13th chapter) I’m telling you fact, the Jewish people all over the earth are planning to killed off 90% of the entire earth, with the New World Order, and as for as people disappearing off the earth, seek and you shall find,The Jewish people are behind every major death on earth. The Jewish people are the one who is taking the people and killing them.Do your research, please don’t get chip because you are from the 12 tribes of Israel and you are from the tribe of Zebulun, and the people that are in Israel right now are the fake Jews and are the synagogue of Satan. Read Deuteronomy chapter 28 and you can see the slave ships all the 12 tribes were in. and the Jewish people are the one whom had all the tribes in slavery. Brother we are the real children of Israel, I’m from the tribe of Judah, the so called Africa America. May peace be with you and your family. Sha-mi Ya-sha-rahla Ahayah Ah-la-ha-ya-na-wa Ahayah Ah-chad, this mean Here O Israel, the Lord Our God is One Lord …Deuteronomy 6:4

      Shalom

  • OMG February 8, 2014

    LOL

Project Censored 2014
Receive a Free Project Censored "Top 25 Censored Stories" Book For Being a Member
Become a $5 monthly subscriber to Project Censored and as long as you are a member, every year we will send you the newest Project Censored Top 25 Most Censored Stories of the Year book. You can choose paperback or e-book, you can cancel your monthly support at any time, and your support is tax deductible. 

Book, button, 3@2x