An identity database as important as a road

Posted on September 2, 2011  /  2 Comments

One of the most significant ICT applications in the world is being pioneered in India: the Unique Identifier.

“What we are creating is as important as a road,” said Nandan M. Nilekani, the billionaire software mogul whom the government has tapped to create India’s identity database. “It is a road that in some sense connects every individual to the state.”

For its proponents, the 12-digit ID is an ingenious solution to a particularly bedeviling problem. Most of India’s poorest citizens are trapped in a system of village-based identity proof that has had the perverse effect of making migration, which is essential to any growing economy, much harder.

The ID project also has the potential to reduce the kind of corruption that has led millions of Indians to take to the streets in mass demonstrations in recent weeks, spurred on by the hunger strike of an anticorruption activist named Anna Hazare.

I would not agree with the last claim, in that the Identifier is best at controlling petty corruption, not grand corruption such as the 2G scam. The work Subhash Bhatnagar did in the last round on how payments were made after verifying biometrics clearly supports the claim that it identity verification can control petty corruption.

Full article.


  1. Identity is important in disasters too. When people lose their documents like birth certificate, ownership of property documents, etc in a disaster; states run in to problems trying to sort out those issues.