April 07, 2020
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Resolving Some Identity Crises

Resolving Some Identity Crises
The question of national identity in this country has always been an emotionally confounding contentious issue, and that of national identity cards more so. But that has hardly deterred the current dispensation from going ahead with it. The home ministry’s favourite project, for some time now, of issuing national I-cards to all citizens of the country received the prime minister’s seal of approval on August 15. And ministry officials say they will issue the first lot of cards to select blocks in 13 border states by this November.

Union home secretary Kamal Pande has even coined a name for the card: nishan (National Identity System Home Affairs Network). The word nishan means a sign or a mark. Ministry sources say the card will contain such details as name, place and date of birth, address, passport number, driver’s license number, pan and ration card number. Three years ago, the ministry had asked the Tata Consultancy Services (tcs) to undertake a feasibility study.

Phiroz Vandrewala, executive vice-president of tcs, says the "motive behind nishan is to have one identity card number which serves all purposes, instead of the current uncoordinated I-card system. It’s very much like the social security number in the US. This will become one master I-card system for any government interface." Vandrewala also claims that it’ll be difficult to forge such a document and produce its counterfeit. Each card will have a 2-D bar code with a scan of the person’s fingerprints or eyes. The tcs has already prepared a dummy using the colours of the Tricolour. Now, the only thing left is, of course, for our politicians to accept it.

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