INTRODUCTION to analyze the author’s view from the India

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Last updated: August 12, 2019

INTRODUCTIONThe importance attached to the issue ofIdentity Card system in the world has been long debated. It is not surprisingthat “many governments around the world have invested inestimably inmodernizing their identity management systems to enable more complex and secureforms of identification” (Al-Khouri, 2011), which is important and germane inthe national development of a country politically, economically, technicallyand in other areas vital for its development. The case of the implementation ofthe national identity card in India has been considered by the author indetermining the objectives of the scheme and if its implementation willconsider the effect of identity card on privacy, human rights and reducedattention put into citizen welfare due to the implementation cost.

A criticalattempt has been made to analyze the author’s view from the India case andoutline the social embedded perspectives viz-a-viz rationalist perspectivesthat would have been observed.    LITERATUREREVIEWThe processes of identity card systems arevery cumbersome and are closely linked with technology because “technology hasnot only made this problem more acute, but has introduced new dimensions to it”(Goodstadt et al, 2015). In defining and describing the term identity,Beynon-Davies (2006) elucidate that “identity management involves systems forthe identification of a variety of objects supporting societal behavior;people, goods, places, etc”.  In fact, asopined by Yeow et al (2013) who adopt a technical approach in their paper,mentioned that “since the 9/11 terrorist attack in the US, many countries ofthe world have considered using “smart national identity card” (SNIC) which hasthe ability to identify terrorists in their forms and guise due to itsbiometric verification function”. ‘Identitycard technology has been adopted by several countries for various purposes, In Nigeria,It was adopted for voter registration in elections’.It is in this vein and formore other salient factors that some countries of the world had adopted the useof identity card. The role of technology in the Nigeria election (Lewis, 2011) cannotbe overemphasized because “fraudulent registration was possible during the old andarchaic identity card regime as registration was basically manual so it waseasy to duplicate cards”.

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In working towards more rational/technical approachesfor better results, the new identity card scheme that involves biometrics datacapture and the issuance of a unique personalized National identity number uponregistration as well as several other security features (Canada: Immigrationand Refugee Board of Canada, 2016) was introduced by President GoodluckJonathan, although, with some possibilities of tampering, (Lewis, 2011). Lewis(2010) further mentioned that “Nigeria’s recent electoral season marked animportant departure from the familiar trajectory of politics in that countryand history of flawed elections and oligarchic control”. The rationalistperspective system adopted, (although marred with some hooliganism behavior)during the general election has prompted the president and the country to rollout “13m MasterCard branded national identity SmartCards” (African Business,2013). The essence of this identity card for the people of Nigeria is to serveas “personal database repository and payment card”. In fact, “it will serve toestablish the identity of the individual in such a way that privacy is assuredand updating personal information is made easier” (Canada: Immigration andRefugee Board of Canada, 2016). It is no doubt that due to the adoption ofthe electronic national identity card in Hong Kong, Goodstadt et al (2015)emphasize their rational scope that the electronic identity card that has beendescribed in terms of building a sense of community among the citizenry andgives access to various services denied to other Chinese. Notably, they mentionthat “its selling point with the Hong Kong public is its contribution tosolving the practical problems first of a refugee city whose political andlegal status was ill-defined”Notwithstanding, the social embeddedauthors have totally disagreed with the importance of national identity card inthe polity of their nations as the issue of the national identity card hasbecome “the most controversial and sensitive of areas because of itsassociation with issues of personal privacy and individuality” (Beynon-Davies,2006).

It is in addition to this regard that Neumann & Weinstein (2001)adopt a socially embedded perspective in their papers and concluded that “thebelief that “smart” national identity cards could provide irrefutable biometricmatches without false positives and negatives is fallacious”. They furtherpoint out that such system can still be cracked and terrorists or criminalsalike find ways to exploit them using the false sense of security that thecards provide to their own advantage. The case of UK failed national identitycard has been noted by many authors and has been specifically pointed out byWhitley et al (2007) that the introduction of the national identity card is ahighly complex policy being designed and proposed in a highly complexenvironment. They observed that the much awareness of the complexity was lostin the popular perceptions, particularly in the media and government itself.CASEDESCRIPTIONThe author of the case of nationalidentity card in India in his work critically “discussed social and ethicalaspects of a new national project ID also called (UID) to Indian residents”which is a “technology-based solution that would change the face of governance inIndia” (Ramakumar, 2010). In his decisive analysis, he argued passionately thatif the project is undertaken, it will violate citizens’ rights and freedom inthe course of collecting their personal information which will be wrongly usedagainst the citizenry in future; just as he makes emphasis on the peoples’right, present and future welfare services to be rendered, and of course thelack of information on the cost to be expended. To corroborate the author’sopinion and in support of the study, Manu (2010) opines that “the project hasboth technology and privacy concerns”. Experts, he points out “argue that acomprehensive information database of all Indians lends itself to misuse”.

Healso states that “among the major risks are errors in compiling informationabout individuals in a project of a gigantic scale and authorized access toinformation”.He is more of the opinion that technologyshould be focused more on the social welfare of the people, especially in therural areas than exerting energy and attention on such project. Ramakumar(2010) also “argued that wrong emphasis was placed on the advantages to beaccrued on the use of technology for the project and as such, it remainsunproven to handle large population as expected for the project”, which is apointer to the appointing a technologist as the chairman of the board. In fact,the author believes there was a bit of biasness by choosing a technocrat as thehead of the project and not a social scientist or a demographer. He believes itwould cut-off the interest and welfare and civic right of the Indian people.

Yoon& Kim (2017) in expatiating on the superior of socialist thinking viz-a-viztechnology or other sciences believe that “social science data differ from datain the hard core sciences” which focuses more on the welfare structure of thepopulace and their environment while collecting the information for the projectas against other sciences and technology.The author as a social scientist was notcomfortable that the cost-benefit analysis of the project was not done orcarried out which could spell doom as the India government are putting thecountry’s wealth on a gigantic project that could fail. He asserts that suchwealth could be used in other areas of technological development that willpositively affect the lives of the citizenry. In his words, he opined that “itis not clear if the recurring costs to be incurred on the project to maintainand effective and efficient network system has been accounted for by the government.Also, there is a serious need for the costs involved in a project of the sizeand scale as the UID project to be very enormous and it has to be weighedagainst the limited benefits that are likely to follow” (Ramakumar, 2010).Hence, he is critical about the cost to be incurred and in his criticism, hewould want the project to “start with small number of people……as this is tosuggest its importance to national growth and cutting unnecessary wastages”.The author was totally against the ideathat the roots of public failure in India is due to identity project but rathercorruption in public places, fraud and other induced policy should be themajor  attention to be tackled.

It is inthis acceptable opinion and as mentioned by Rajanish (2011) that “criticsquestion whether the project can have as big an impact as its backers promise,given that identity fraud is but one contributor to India’s developmentstruggles” and not the adoption of technology for a new identity card system.CASEANALYSISIn a country with one of the largestpopulation in the world, the ability to do the right thing at the right timecannot be understated, especially as it concerns the citizenry in a democraticsetting. People will react to any activity that will not naturally supporttheir livelihood and this gives a good reason and importance attached to thewelfare of people in a certain environment regardless the class as it supportsthe socially embedded perspective of the author in the case study of identitycard in India. Contrary to the author’s opinion on theimportant and use of technology for the identity card, Schlageter (2005) opinedthat “the importance of technology in the business world grows with eachpassing year”, and from the case study of India’s Identity Card project, theusage of such technology for the task will bring about process, structure andeffective use of the database garnered for other human development in thecountry. In fact, Al-Khouri (2011) asserts that “without a clear blueprint andplan, organizations are more likely to drift and run in different directions”,- an avoidable failure if the technology is properly used.

In the work ofHosman et al (2008) of a rational thinking perspective and contrary to theauthor’s opinion, they mention that “with the advancement of information andcommunication technologies (ICTs), e-government has emerged as an effectivemeans of delivering government services to citizens”, and putting this in avery effective situation from the city to the rural areas will bring about thedesired results for welfare of the people, security and technology advancement.The author in his paper of adopting asocially embedded viewpoint, observes that the human factor in decision making isparamount to the “democratic political system that requires broad-based supportand consensus to make the political process efficient and secure” (Yi, 2001).It thus shows the author’s agreement to the identity card creation and rather divertingattention to the stature of the person in charge of the committee. In any case,attention should be centered on the substance of the project rather than theperson. More importantly, lack and properinformation dissemination, and an ability to carry all and sundry along, needbe corrected in the proposed Indian identity card implementation, in order toavoid conflict from professionals. Information dissemination needs to beappropriately done and the carrying along of stakeholders will have positiveimpact on the project.

It should be noted that the processes and equipment tobe used are technical; and this suggest that it is beneficial to have atechnocrat as the head of the committee considering the aim and objectives ofthe project, while other professionals can support in the creation of standardsand in the dissemination of the benefit to the people and the country as awhole. REFLECTIONSIt is noteworthy on the attempt of theauthor’s socially embedded argument of the case study to mention some grey areasin his opinion as regards identity card system in India. This include but thefact that “the deployment of digital technologies in creating identificationsystems has made accessing, collating and comparing databases faster, easierand more accurate” (Swagato, 2014). Hence, Yadav (2014) suggests that theUnique Identification project (UID) will cover some voids as an inclusive innovationin the country where more than 400 millions of poor suffer in the hands of theexisting corrupt system”.

There need to be a better implementation of the identitycard program because the end results of the identity card implementation willresult to the reduction of identity theft, improving the country’s nationalsecurity and the maintenance of adequate protection (Jackson & Ligertwood,2006) In such a massive project, the citizenryneed to be involved, hence, they need to be carried along in the adoption ofthe project citing its importance and as supported in this regard, Al-Khouri(2011) in his paper mentions that it is also important by “developing a socialmedia marketing strategy to better understand community interests by runningcustomer and market surveys within the social communities, and promoteengagement and social participation into the project value system. Bangladeshas a country was in a similar situation like the case study- India, rather, theirsimilar project- “Preparation of Electoral Roll with Photographs (PERP) wasdone in a politically controlled environment where the people worked in ahighly structured management system following a concrete and realistic roadmap”(Islam & Grönlund, 2010).For a project to be considered successful,the “perceived benefits of such scheme need to be well quantified in terms ofits value and impact on the society as well as its capacity to generate revenueor save cost” Rajanish (2011). It is in this view as regards cost to beincurred challenge that the UAE instigated a change process to enact anorganizational mindset change with the aim of developing a service driven andresult oriented organization which aims to increase accountability, improveefficiency and high quality services (Al-Khouri, 2007)- this is the hallmark ofa successful project for the development of a nation with the identity cardprogram which need to be considered in the case of India. Finally and as opined by Islam &Grönlund (2010), the information to be garnered for the purpose of the identitycard must be used for improving government services to citizens in order tobecome a tool for a government that is trusted; that is when it can bebeneficiary to all and sundry.

“The main question arising from any proposal tointroduce an identity card is whether its negative impact on the human andlegal rights of citizens is sufficiently balanced by the benefits arising fromthe reduction of the problems it is designed to reduce, such as identity fraudor threats to national security”. Consequently, the introduction of nationalidentity card in the country’s polity outweighs any unforeseen or potentialdisadvantages (Beck & Broadhurst, 1998) which is paramount in the decisionmaking.       

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