India: Latest in NPR v UID

Tug of war over Aadhaar slowing its progress (Hindustan Times)

Three NDA ministries are trying to pull the UPA’s signature project, Aadhaar, in different directions, threatening to further slow down the plan to give all residents a unique identity number (UID).

We discussed the root philosophical differences inherent in the two ID systems here in How Much Fraud is Acceptable in NPR, UID where we observed that:

Bringing full citizenship rights to poor, illiterate landless Indians brings with it a near-certainty that full citizenship rights will be conferred upon some number of poor, illiterate, landless non-Indians living in India.

If you’re interested, I’d encourage you to read the whole thing.

Also, the India, UID and NPR labels in the footer of this post call up a lot of in-depth analysis of what’s going on with the most ambitious ID project ever conceived.

India: UIDAI & NPR still at it

This is a “dog bites man” story but it has been a while since we dropped in on the India ID effort…

Govt likely to allow UIDAI to start enrolment in NPR states (CNBC India)

Government is likely to allow on Thursday UIDAI, which issues unique identification numbers to residents, to start enrolments in areas other than 18 states and union territories allocated to it for the purpose.

According to an official source, the Cabinet Committee on Unique identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will discuss a proposal of the Planning Commission to allow UIDAI to start enrolments in states and union territories which were not part of its mandated operations.

UIDAI proposal not taken up by Cabinet due to paucity of time (Business Standard)

A Cabinet Committee could not discuss today the proposal to allow UIDAI to start enrolments in areas other than 18 states and union territories allocated to it, due to paucity of time.

According to an official source, the Cabinet Committee on Unique identification Authority of India (UIDAI) meeting scheduled for today to discuss the proposal was not held as the meeting of the Cabinet took time to decide on LPG cylinder issue and other matters.

Both the committees are headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

For some background on the UIDAI-NPR bad blood, see ID Rivalry Reignites in India.

UID-NPR update and rehash

A recap of an issue we’ve discussed here in the past. There are still some signs that the rivalry between NPR & UID continues, but the temperature of it seems to have gone down a bit.

Confused over Aadhaar and NPR, Cabinet sets up Group of Ministers (Economic Times)

Confusion over whether the unique identity number is a number, a card or both, and concerns over UID and the National Population Register duplicating functions prompted the Cabinet to refer UPA-2’s ambitious project to a group of ministers.

The Cabinet discussion on Thursday revealed that the ministerial panel was not immune from contradictory and blurred perceptions about Aadhaar, as UID is known, with some ministers saying they had received a card along with a number.

For earlier posts mentioning UID & NPR together click here (Google advanced search).

Hope for a Grand Bargain among India’s ID Bureaucracies

PAN, AADHAAR, NPR govt looks at grand alliance (Business Standard)

The thought of making PAN the national identification number has lost its fizz but the government is now taking steps to link it to AADHAAR and NPR (National Population Register).

A provision has already been made to provide AADHAAR number allotted by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to the Indian citizens in PAN application Form 49A on voluntary basis.

The existing PAN holders can also add information of their AADHAAR number to the I-T department while applying for a new PAN card or making some changes or correction in their existing PAN details.

The Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India also proposed to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) recently to link PAN with NPR. Under the proposal, Ministry of Home Affairs will store PAN information along with the NPR data on the smart card to be issued as Resident Identity Cards.

That just might be crazy enough to work.

Indian Cabinet to UID, NPR “Play Nice”

Govt asks UIDAI to take Registrar General of India (RGI) data (The Statesman)

Accepting the demand of the Union home minister, Mr P Chidambaram, the government today directed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to consider the biometric data collected by the Registrar General of India (RGI) while issuing the unique ID number.

The decision to direct the UIDAI to accept the National Population Register (NPR) data was taken at today’s meeting of the Union Cabinet. Mr Chidambaram had taken up the issue with the Prime Minister last week and complained that the UIDAI chief, Mr Nandan Nilekani, was not accepting the NPR data for de-duplication and generation of Aadhaar number.

ID Rivalry Reignites in India

In the Dec. 6, 2011 post, India: How Much Fraud is Acceptable in NPR, UID, we touched on the philosophical differences between NPR and UID and the men behind the two efforts.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s biggest point has always been that his organization’s database, the National Population Register (NPR), is for Indian citizens only with a view toward issuing a citizenship card. His concern is that loose enrollment standards will lead to issuing the citizenship card to non-citizens and doing that exposes India to intolerable security risks.

The UIDAI, led by Nandan Nilekani is more concerned with providing everyone in India with a legitimate identity. The implicit assumption is that in a situation where a significant portion of the population will be unable to prove with scientific precision who they are (because they don’t have ID), you’re better off getting everyone an ID and then trying to sort things out later.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set the conditions for both efforts to proceed in parallel, sharing tasks and infrastructure (in areas such as de-duplication) when possible, and otherwise staying out of each other’s way.

Though he never really seemed to accept the legitimacy of the pro-UID point of view Chidambaram took his medicine on January 24, 2012, in essence proclaiming “Rivalry! What rivalry?” See: UID: Home Ministry Climb-down.

Three days later the truce was sealed. UID would enroll 600 million people in 16 of India’s 28 states, and the NPR would issue 600 million credentials elsewhere. See Compromise reached on Biometric ID in India (January 27) which predicted that the rivalry would soon heat up again.

…which brings us to today:
Chidambaram, Nilekani spar over collection of biometric data (Times of India)

Sources said the cabinet again discussed the issue on Thursday after Chidambaram recently wrote to the Prime Minister complaining that the NPR project had “come to a standstill” because of the UID scheme.

“The collection of photographs and biometrics has been facing hurdles at every step on account approach of the UIDAI, which, it seems, has failed to appreciate the core purpose of the National Population Register,” Chidambaram said in his letter.

He also slammed the UIDAI for allegedly not following the cabinet’s orders.

“Despite clear orders from the cabinet, the UIDAI is objecting to the conduct of NPR camps in certain states and is also refusing to accept the biometric data of NPR for de-duplication and generation of Aadhaar number,” he said.

Versions of this article are all over the news today. I chose this one from the Times of India for the quality of the discussion in the comment section.

Of course, all this is highly political. But as we say around here all the time: Biometrics is about people. That applies across the board. It applies to the relationship between the individual and the ID management system, and it applies to the political and managerial people who implement and operate ID management systems.

Politics will always play a part in national biometric deployments and they should. What’s interesting in this case is that the political battle isn’t between pro- and anti-biometrics forces. It’s between two giant biometric deployments and, yes, the people who run them.