Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Aadhar And UIDAI Are Booty Sharing Methods

Unique identification project of India (UID project) or as popularly known as Aadhar project of India has never got a smooth sail. This is because of the controversial nature of the project as well as due to the arbitrary manner of its launch. Aadhar is managed by Nandan Nilekani led unique identification authority of India (UIDAI) that has no legal sanction. So much so that even after the proposed National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 the project still is unconstitutional and illegal.

Surprisingly, till now the UID project has not shown any of the requisite parameters that allow it to receive huge public money that government of India is very willing to give charitably. In the absence of any transparency and accountability, the whole project seems to be “booty sharing” by big companies at the cost of public interest.

This is also evident the way finance ministry is allotting public money to UIDAI even in the absence of any legal framework. Further, the UIDAI is itself deviating from its adopted policies and guidelines. For instance, UIDAI is now backing away from its open technological standards and is indulging in the vendor lock-in tactics. The intention is to simply share the hard earned public money with few even when freely available software options are readily available.

The latest in the booty sharing episode is even more surprising. It has now come to light that the L-1 Identity Solutions, headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, and another U.S.-headquartered company, lead two of the three vendor consortia, which have been “prequalified” by the UIDAI for the first phase of an effort to register Indian residents with a 12-digit unique number using biometric identifiers. It is ironical that the countries who discarded similar projects themselves are implementing the same in India.

No matter how much controversial the Aadhar project and UIDAI may get, we Indians have a habit of discussing the same and then forget about it. Indians wake up before it is too late or another multi billion rupees scam hits you.