this blog is a collection of writings written by me at various forums and blogs, and some stuffs about me and my taste.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My reply to UID bashers

As always, our [left wing] NGOs have come up with another campaign; A Campaign against India’s UID project. I noted this first on a google group called Fourth Estate Critique (FEC). To my surprise, most of those who discussed UID project there where against UID. Some of their reasons were (1) False claims by Nandan Nilekani & the government, (2) Violation of privacy and civil liberties, (3) “Functionality creep” and misuse of data, (4) Inappropriate and unproven technology, (5) Database security not assured, (6) Unjustifiable costs, (7) Bypassing of Parliament and democratic processes and (8) Lessons from other countries like UK. To know those arguments in detail, check out this pdf ( http://www.sacw.net/IMG/pdf/UID_appeal_to_MPs.pdf ) or listen to this CNNibn discussion (http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/132018/does-the-uid-scheme-violate-democratic-rights.html ). 


FEC is a very active group where you get strong & powerful replies for a post in minutes. FEC claims, it is the most active online discussion forum in Kerala. It is really hard to fight those FEC members, but I believe I have won a battle. Its almost a day, but I am yet to get a reply from those UID bashers for the reply I posted. In FEC standards, a day is too long for a reply.


It took me 2 days of thought process & 4 hours of editing to make this reply. By far, my effort has been able to mum those NGOs. Read it bellow.

NP: It would not be worth reading if you are ignorant of the criticisms growing against the UID project.

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1) There have been cases where according to the state government, someone is in BPL and according to the central government, he is in APL. There are cases where many sound families hold a BPL card when the actual ones are not in the BPL list. Currently there is no - effective - mechanism for the government to identify & correct such inconsistencies.

UID has the potential to identify such inconsistencies existing in databases held by different agencies; by cross comparison & cross verification of data. Correction - of identified inconsistencies - however has to be done by other bodies.


2) Privacy: I do not have issues if government checks my bank transactions, because I have nothing to hide. Transparency applies to us too. We have to be transparent towards our government. Why should I hide my financial transactions from the government? Also, why should we prevent the government from more effectively knowing the demographic details of our country?

Government already has access to our bank accounts; UID may just help that task of tracing suspicious transactions & accounts easier.

3) Privacy: UID will not empower the government to tap phones or monitor bedrooms & bathroom; where you need privacy. UID will help the government coordinate service points better; which are suppose to be transparent; & not private.

4) I am not against private players. Whets wrong if private players are allowed to work along with the government? In my experience, public sector sucks. I am quite sure that UID project will overspend, lag & eventually fail if it was implemented by public sector bodies alone.

5) For arguments like "UID has just techies on top of the project, who do not know the issues of the common man...." Give them a try. Let’s see if those techies can help the government in solving those issues of the poor, which the non-techies have not yet solved.

6) If Biometrics has vulnerabilities, suggest a better way to help the government uniquely identify citizens; rather than halting the entire project. In our country, we can easily manage to get fake PAN cards, fake passports, fake certificates, etc. Biometrics has the potential to identify such fake identity holders & verify valid ones; with much better accuracy than existing methods.

7) "UID will give more power to the government. That is dangerous" - isnt that another reason why some of you believe, UID should not be allowed?

A powerful government is a good thing. Take China or may be, any democratic country where the government is very powerful; were the government has good control over the state. All such countries have developed & prospered better than countries where the government is less powerful, or has little control over its land. If UID can give the government better control over the state, that's going to bring in more development & prosperity.

8) Misuse of data: This is an issue. Misuse of data should not happen. Data stealing too should be prevented. I hope, the framework designed by Nilekani is robust & secure. We have no other option than to trust him.

Personally, I can trust him because
            (a) His track record; He is an expert in his job.
            (b) The nature of the data stored in UID's database is not as  crucial as country's top security details or secrets. What could be stored there are biometric data, demographic data, and those details
which we gave to the census guy who came to our home.
            (c) He is no less an Indian than me. Mr. Nilekani & his team would have put in their best to make the database as secure as possible.

9) Nilekani has clarified that this project is a lot different from the project, UK abandoned.

In UK it was not financially feasible because of the nature of the goals that that government had to achieve. The issues faced by UK & India are a lot different. When bringing in transparency, reducing leakages, removing poverty, etc. are India's priorities, UK's priority is in getting rid of the financial crisis they currently are in. - I guess so! Correct me if I am wrong.

10) UID could be an expensive project, but it is worth. It is an investment for our nation betterment.
And UID is going to happen. Protests & campaigns against the project will only help reduce the chances of success of the project. 

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4 comments:

PP said...

Very well done Vivek, cheers!

vivekstanley said...

Thanks chetta

BlackRider said...

Dey very good analysis.... definitely a good answer to those anti aadharites..... Keep it up...

vivekstanley said...

Thanks midhun!!!