National ID, Aadhaar, Smart cards still a buzz word in India

Smart Cards, National ID & EMV Cards (Euro Master Visa)  have been a buzz word in India for more than a decade now. But in terms of projects and implementation. These technologies have a history of failures. There have been many business cases, where many  investors  have burnt their fingers. Including the big dream of National ID project.

But the failures are not because of the technology!. But the technical standards, specifications, budget allocation and implementation policies by governments. When many developing countries have successfully implemented National ID based on Smart Cards. Here the dream Indian National ID still hanging on the air. Strictly we are not following the international smart card standards and procedure they follow in the Card issue system.

There have been few projects like pilot ID, surprisingly even these projects were allocated to public sector undertaking companies like, BEL & ECIL etc. Imagine! many private investors, mid size companies who ventured into this industry, either vanished or the focus is shifted to different technologies and products. In our case, we too  shifted to  mobile applications & manufacturing based RFID tracking solutions. But still, I buzz saying. we work on smart cards 🙂

Other typical failure of this technology is lack of good association, forums & committees. Where the specifications and policies are framed better & co-ordinated to demand and supply. I used to hear there was an association called, Smart card association of India, but guess they have been doing nothing, other than conducting exhibitions and promoting unfair competition. Doing nothing on the ground, doing anything as a transparent agency and work along with the government of India.

In management there is a simple theory. “To solve a big problem, start with a piece of it”.

The recent & much-touted Nandan Nilekani, headed UIDAI, Aadhaar scheme National ID project is also coming under review by the parliamentary committee, even thinking of getting back to the planning commission and continuing with censor based ID processing system.

The Standing Committee had slammed the NIAI Bill, terming it as ‘directionless.’ Even as it suggested that the Government bring in a fresh Bill, the committee said the Bill and the project were not acceptable in its present form.

The emerging opinion from the meeting was that the entire enrollment part should be handed over to the National Population Register under the MHA and that the UID must be allotted the work of verification of data collected.

Nothing surprising, terming the Aadhaar as ID card project, the implementation modal defined in such a way that, there would be no ID, but the registration with biometric will hold the citizen data. This citizen data can be retrieved by taking human finger print and the number printed on the letter issued after registration.

What this method stands?….lack of focus on the issue and  failure to start worth small.

To close with the purpose of this article. I suggest the Indian home ministry to start following way. :-

To make it into reality, start issuing smart card based National ID to the new born children. This system can be very easy.  Over the period, we could see that the system is implemented as default. Nothing like a dream project. Also follow the  successful sample cases, like Germany, USA, Malaysia where Smart card based ID cards are successful, instead of reinventing the whole process and ID card issuance.

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