Monday, January 23, 2012

The Unique Identity Crisis of India !

Being a born citizen of independent India, having a permanent home and a family name I have been under the impression that I am a privileged Indian Citizen, unlike those unfortunate and poor country cousins below the poverty line. A typical middle class way of thinking ! 

Of late, after working in this country in a responsible position for decades, paying substantial contribution to the government by way of income tax, with so many officially certified identity proofs, like official ID card, PAN card, Passport, School and College certificates, Property ownership in at least two states, I am realizing the hard truth. I cannot exercise my franchise to vote to elect my democratic representatives anywhere. Neither I can get a telephone or gas connection, without running from pillar to post and sweating it out! I am not that privileged as I have been thinking!

My profession and job do not allow me to be resident in one place for years. The situation does not allow me to stay in my ancestral home or my own dream home during the good days of my life. That is reserved for the time when probably they label me as a 'senior citizen' and I really do not know what happens then.

My residence keeps changing due to my job.  But, this is the situation with most of those who pay income tax.

Addresses of people keep changing and that is the way of life in the present day society. In olden days, a simple name and a village name could have identified the person. The most important task of establishing the identity of a person used to be done by the most important government officers of the area- the Postman and the Post Master ! The legacy of the governmental system of the good old days of the 'Raj'.

When Raj came into the hands of the commons and the government functions multiplied, some 'wise' neo-rajas arbitrarily decided to dilute some government functions. The Postal Service was the one which was the most efficient and the most non-lucrative for the neo-rajas making them work against it and practically making it eradicated from the scenes. An important government function identifying and linking the people with authority and efficiency thus lost its relevance.

With that started the identity crisis. The security agencies and super statutory authorities working to solve day to day problems slowly and surely made the situation worse and worse over the years with no one ever making concrete efforts to solve the problem.

So what really is the problem ? Imagine the situation of people like me who are forced to change the residences periodically. Except for a few top governmental functionaries, no one really has any officially labelled residence. So students studying in colleges, institutes, salaried persons, business men, house wives all are required to change their residences once in a while. In such cases, how these people will have their voters ID cards when the voter ID card making exercise is done just before some general elections. Which is the authority permanently existing who are responsible for verifying a persons current residence and issuing a residence proof certification, to whom the people can approach and get such a certification before they shift their residence again?

I am sure, there could be some system to resolve such issues. But unfortunately that is not known to the people and to those who are to take note of it. For example, I know now that in some states, where the Naxal problem and insurgency problem exist, the authorities have created such a mess that no genuine person can get a new mobile connection.Similarly, you cannot get a gas connection and cannot even open a bank account. You cannot purchase a vehicle and you cannot purchase a house. And still further, you cannot get a house on rent. From where that most important residential proof document come from ?

At the same time it is extremely easy for those who do not mind bending rules and fabricate documents.

Why can't a citizen with a proven identity and standing cannot certify his own residence? Why there is no system or authorized people to verify and approve such self declarations if need arise?

Why is it that the government makes rules with the only authority capable of making such certifications are the most corrupt and inaccessible officers of certain select departments and not those easily accessible ones?

How can you make a system where the permanent and temporary residence of a person is identifiable and certified for all applications and purposes ?

Is it such a complicated issue that we need to spend billions of rupees and years to work out this Unique Identity (UID) system into practice? If it takes such long time what will happen to those who keep changing their residences just as I have described?

Are they going to remain without and ID and vote for ever ?

Because of all of this, I seriously have a doubt on our published data on percentage voting and census data.

And finally, how will you identify those people who die in hundreds every day in transit and in jungles? Is it like counting the exact number of hairs on your head?

There is a crisis for all right thinking people. For others, there is no crisis. It is only opportunity!

And that makes the Unique Identity Crisis of India!

A crisis created by stupid, but clever neo-Rajas of Independent India! Not that  they do not know how to solve it. But they won't. If they make things so simple for the ruled class how do they get the less fortunate bow before them?

Poor country cousins of India! Let us weep together! 

Do we have some other choice? 

[Reproduced from the Author's Blog at SiliconIndia]

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