Since Inkling won a big Indian client that is based in Dehli I have been more than a little fascinated by the workings of that most fascinating of countries, becoming an avid reader of the Times of India online. So I found this image tweeted from the BBC today of Indians queueing for a new identity rather arresting.
Most below the poverty line Indians currently have no way to prove they exist, and in towns and villages across the country millions of them are queueing to receive unique biometric ID numbers, based among other things on iris scan & finger prints. These IDs will acknowledge them on paper for the first time ever as living and breathing human beings.
Critics fear it will create a big brother surveillance of the whole country & that it costs billions of pounds and can easily be used corruptly. While those queueing for it, are hoping that having an identity will give them access to government support and medical treatment that they can’t currently cannot benefit from; and things as simple as the opportunity to use ID to gain a mobile phone number or the right to vote, in a world where ID is mandatory.
However, either way in India, from what I have experienced a querulous, optimistic, striving, growing land, which is fast becoming a technology hub for the world what is taking place is quite simply the biggest national computerized database project in history. Whether the end result is fit for purpose remains to be seen, but it is quite a feat.