Criminally Correct

Arshid Malik

A few weeks ago some people (official designates) visited our home and did a head count and noted down names, age and gender etc. of the inhabitants. We were given a coupon with a code and were given a date on which we were required to visit the “Aadhaar Card” Camp which would be setup in the locality for biometrics and identification. The day the camp was setup there was an unending queue at the Camp; everyone was in a rush to get himself/herself enrolled. I turned up at the last moment upon handling persistent calls from my father who wanted me to enrol myself for the card. There were a few people from my locality still getting enrolled and I waited out my turn. Then I realized that the person in the chair getting his prints and eyes scanned was a top pro-Pakistani “agitator” from the area. I asked him, “Hey! Why are you getting yourself scanned; I thought you “hated India” and its systems?” He replied in a squeaky voice, “I turned up to see what they were up to, actually.” That was the best possible excuse.

It was the former Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh who under some “influence” appointed former Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani as Chairperson of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which had been set up to assign a unique number to every resident of the country. Nilekani chose his “dream team” and made forays into turning this “dream project” into a reality. The project eventuated “Aadhaar Card” (Aadhaar meaning base or basis) project which has now made it mandatory for every citizen of India to enrol himself/herself for the card by way of forcing people into coercive submission by making it mandatory to have an “Aadhaar Card” to get an LPG refill, file an RTI and other such basic necessities. The Unique Identification System had met with a lot of criticism from the Indian intelligentsia for it was too brazen a system to strip citizens of their privacy and thus the “system” was collated to acquiring subsidized amenities in the stead of a ration card. This levelled out the opposition to a great extent and sent every individual hankering after it instead of asking questions and raising doubts. This is the way cunning governments who want to feed off democratic systems of governance to “tap” the citizenry work which is made evident by the fact that even email identities and phone numbers are being logged.

The “Aadhaar Card” which roughly translates into the “Basis Card”, is an anti-privacy and anti-democratic project which seeks to create a full-fledged database of the Indian population which would be at the fingertips of government agencies 24×7 and when I say agencies I am not indicating only Indian agencies. The “Aadhaar Card” Project is being run by a US-based company which under US law would have to turn in the data to the US if their government demands. So, by and large we will be part of the “US Database against Terror” in the coming few years and thus under constant surveillance. The off-beat excuse that the government has for mapping the biometrics of the population is that it would be able to control crime and hunt down criminals in comparatively shorter spans of time but why does the whole nation have to surrender its privacy to better the crime-fighting system. Well, they can nab criminals but can they stop crime? As for the poor, who think they will be benefitted, I do not think possessing an “Aadhaar Card” will stop a crisis-hit farmer from committing suicide. The whole exercise, which is approximately costing the government a whopping Rs 150,000 crores, is a violation of democratic rights. Howsoever, I must admit that the government is criminally correct in what it is doing.

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