17 April, 2021

Biometry Is Watching

In its first steps, the UID drive encounters practical problems, raises ethical questions

Nilotpal Baruah
Biometry Is Watching

Three women are fighting to take one chair in a classroom of a government school in Chelur village, in Gubbi taluka of Tumkur district. One sits on the lap of another and the third tries to push them both off the chair. What all three want is to be the first to be profiled under the Centre’s ambitious Aadhaar or unique identity number (UID) project. Their squabbling holds up the documentation by nearly 20 minutes, and the crowd outside, standing in line in the afternoon sun, grows restless. To calm them, the village revenue secretary orders the distribution of another round of buttermilk.

Chelur is one of four villages in the district picked for field trials before the 12-digit UIDs are assigned to people later in the year. Besides Tumkur, the pilot project is simultaneously running in seven villages of Mysore district. Each village has been given a target of 2,400-2,500 profiles to be completed in 20 days. This involves photographing the face, imaging the iris and scanning all ten digits of each person profiled and assigned a...

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