1.2 billion People in India to be Given Biometric ID Cards

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India’s 1.2 billion citizens are to be issued biometric ID cards. These ID cards are an attempt to improve delivery of India’s public services. They will hold the person’s name, age, birth date, fingerprint and iris scan. A giant computer will hold the personal details of at least 600 million citizens, making this system on the same scale as Google. This project will cost an estimated 1.5bn Rupees.

Civil liberty campaigners fear the 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?”

42% 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 them because they will no longer have a problem identifying themselves. The “brainchild” of this plan is Nandan Nilekani who is one of India’s best-known software tycoons. The reason for these ID cards is that India has dozens of types of ID verification but none of them can be used universally. This new system is supposed to be a national form of ID, allowing all citizens to have access to everything from welfare benefits to updating land records.

Title: 1.2bn Population Of India To Be Given Biometric ID Cards

Source: Guardian      9/16/2009

URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/16/india-population-biometric-id-cards

Author: Randeep Ramesh

Student Researcher: Danielle Caruso

Faculty Evaluator: Rashmi Singh

Sonoma State University: Sociology of Media, Fall 2009

Instructor: Peter Phillips,  #06