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August 14, 2011

Page: 10/29

Home > 2011 Issues > August 14, 2011

IT for protecting common man from graft
Vajpayee’s vision and UPA’s dismay


INFORMATION Technology (IT) can play an important role in controlling black-money and corruption and ensure that the government subsidy reaches the targeted population without the involvement of a middleman. IT can also be very useful in proactively curbing other crimes.

The first step in this direction was taken by the Vajpayee Government in January 2004. It inserted section 14A in The Citizenship Act, 1955, that envisaged issuance of national identity card to every citizen. The purpose of this was to issue a unique identity (UID) in the form of a smart card to every citizen of the country. However, the UPA government lost more than five years and only in June 2009, the government appointed Infosys founder and vice chairman Nandan Nilekani as the head of Unique Identification Authority of India (UID-AI).

The UID project was to be designed in a hub and spoke model - with the ID system at the hub and various services accessing it as spoke. The entire data base was planned to be used intelligently for different applications. For example, when a person registers a property, he must give his UID number. Any authorised agency, just by the punch of few keys, could see how many properties stand registered against a particular UID, and his source of funding. This could have controlled black-money. In the US, through a specific search by name or surname, area, etc., one can get complete details of the seller, its prices, complete chain of owners of property, etc.

Similarly, police could book criminals using their UID numbers and their profiles can be maintained including their DNA, which can be very useful in curbing crime and improving conviction rate. Presently the hotels ask to provide an ID from people who want to stay there. Criminals provide fake IDs. However, with UID this can be completely eliminated as the hotel staff can dip into a common data base to verify the IDs.

Monitoring subsidy

The entire data base can be built on a flexible format to accommodate any change in government policies such as identifying different sets of needy people for targeted subsidy schemes.


IT can be used to reduce the interaction of the common man with the public utility offices of the government. For this, the government should standardize the formats of various forms (for availing government services) and certificates (like Birth certificate, Death certificate, Caste certificate, Income certificate), applicable across the country. Only the language can be local but the format has to be exactly the same across the country. Efforts should be made to reduce number of forms substantially. Stating a UID number should be enough to get a service instead of writing complete name, address, etc.

India Search Engine:

On the pattern of US, the central government should come out with a search engine which can be used both by the general public (for getting publicly disclose-able information) on free/chargeable basis, and which can be used by the Government Agencies. This Search Engine should give the desired information through either selection of name or UIN. In the US, the Search Engine provides even the names and telephone numbers of the neighbourers, last three residential addresses, criminal records in all the States, ownership of the property, the previous owners of the property, purchase price of the property, place he is working, etc.

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