As a consequence, much of the life of the citizen gets consumed in matters of compliance with the official regulations, prohibitions and commands needing to be obeyed on pain of punishment.
A recent experience of this columnist concerned Aadhaar. Now that the government has made mandatory the use of the Aadhaar-based Unique Identification Number (in a context where 99% of citizens already have some or other such unique number, including that of the cellphone they own), a visit was made to an Aadhaar dispensing outlet. After waiting for an hour and 27 minutes, the shop registered details of every digi t of both hands plus the irises of the eyes. However, when the Aadhaar card was sought to be procured ten days later, the reply was that “all the registrations done for those three days were disallowed by higher authority”. What happened to the biometric data taken from each applicant, including this columnist’s? Nobody knew or cared. And if months later, an ultra-high resolution camera takes images of both irises and imprints them on contact lenses, it would not be impossible for an imposter to access a facility that needs such identification for entry. As for the fingerprints, were someone to scan and imprint them on film, and that film subsequently used to plant fingerprint evidence at the site of a crime, it would be next to impossible to prove that the prints were stolen. Why? Because the biometric and other data stored through Aadhaar is regarded as too sensitive to be disclosed even to the person whose data it is. And in case the agency doing so makes other use of it, in the unlikely event of its getting found out, the only “punishment” would be blacklisting that agency for ten years.
During that period, all that the owner would need to do would be to procure a new nameboard and get back into business, Dhoni or no Dhoni. Because of the not unusual disappearance of three days’ data of applicants at that particular location, another visit to the Aadhaar outlet will need to be made. Hopefully, this time the card will be ready, although there will continue to be zero transparency about what happens to the stored data.
Unless, of course, one were to access some of the websites that claim to be revealing Aadhaar data to the public. Aadhaar must get cleansed of its imperfections to avoid future disasters.