Saturday, January 14, 2012

India: World's biggest biometric identity plan progressing fast

The bible says that in the Tribulation all peoples will have a mark on their hand or forehead as a mark of allegiance to the antichrist, without which no one may buy nor sell. This is an astounding prophecy, because there are currently 7 billion people in the world. Even after the initial judgments where a third of the world is killed it is still a lot of people to keep track of. How is it done? Why would people join such a privacy-invading scheme? I'll take a guess. Money.

The contractors hired to sign up people are paid by the sign-up. Once enrolled, the signees have the benefit of welfare rolling straight into their bank accounts. The pace of sign up in some places is astonishing. Read an excerpt below. Detractors say that though the program is currently voluntary, it could easily turn mandatory, and that the private biometric information on each enrolee is not secure. Well, we know how that turns out. They are right.

"He [antichrist] causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666." (Revelation 13:16-18).

I recommend the entire article from The Economist. It is fascinating.

India's Universal ID scheme: reform by numbers
"FOR a country that fails to meet its most basic challenges—feeding the hungry, piping clean water, fixing roads—it seems incredible that India is rapidly building the world’s biggest, most advanced, biometric database of personal identities. Launched in 2010, under a genial ex-tycoon, Nandan Nilekani, the “unique identity” (UID) scheme is supposed to roll out trustworthy, unduplicated identity numbers based on biometric and other data."

"Any resident who wants one can volunteer. The scheme combines work by central and state governments and a number of other partners—largely technology firms that capture and process individuals’ data. The goal, says Mr Nilekani, is to help India cope with the past decade’s expansion of welfare provision, the fastest in its history: “it is essentially about better public services”.

"All that should have been the recipe for a project mired in delays, infighting, empire-building, graft and bad results. Few expected UID to hit its ambitious targets. A year ago, only a few million had enrolled and barely 1m identity numbers had been issued. Warnings about fragile technology, overwhelmed data-processing centres and surging costs suggested slow progress."

"Instead this week saw the 110-millionth UID number issued. Enrolments (which precede issued numbers by some months) should reach 200m in a couple of weeks. Mr Nilekani, eagerly hopping about his office to call up data on his laptop, says that over 20m people are now being signed up every month. He expects to get to 400m by the year’s end."

"That is an astonishing outcome. For a government that has achieved almost nothing since re-election in May 2009, the scheme is emerging as an example of real progress. By 2014, the likely date of the next general election, over half of all Indians could be signed up. If welfare also starts flowing direct into their accounts, the electoral consequences could be profound."

"To get a sense of the scale of UID’s achievement, linger at a mosquito-ridden enrolment centre in Uttan Gaon, a coastal village north of Mumbai. Huddled in a damp fire-station a young man connects a laptop, a binocular-style iris scanner and a glowing green machine that records 30 points from a set of fingerprints. In the gloom, his contraption could be a robot from an early Star Wars film."

"Employed by Wipro, a technology firm and agent for the UID project, he has to get through 40 to 50 residents a day. His hassles, and those of armies of others deployed all across India, look endless. At times no one comes to enroll. Local government is supposed to run campaigns to lure them in, but indifference, bad weather and non-stop religious festivals keep them at home or partying."

Another article on the subject from The Eocnomist. This one tales the slant that India's poor economy and general bureaucratic incompetence (their words) were thought to be hindrances to the ID plan's success. They weren't. In my opinion this shows that no matter how disparate the people or the geography, no matter how much in disarray the economy is or will be, a massive governmental ID scheme can have rapid success. The article is titled, "The Magic Number"

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