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INTRODUCTION

The importance attached to the issue of
Identity Card system in the world has been long debated. It is not surprising
that “many governments around the world have invested inestimably in
modernizing their identity management systems to enable more complex and secure
forms of identification” (Al-Khouri, 2011), which is important and germane in
the national development of a country politically, economically, technically
and in other areas vital for its development. The case of the implementation of
the national identity card in India has been considered by the author in
determining the objectives of the scheme and if its implementation will
consider the effect of identity card on privacy, human rights and reduced
attention put into citizen welfare due to the implementation cost. A critical
attempt has been made to analyze the author’s view from the India case and
outline the social embedded perspectives viz-a-viz rationalist perspectives
that would have been observed.    

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LITERATURE
REVIEW

The processes of identity card systems are
very cumbersome and are closely linked with technology because “technology has
not only made this problem more acute, but has introduced new dimensions to it”
(Goodstadt et al, 2015). In defining and describing the term identity,
Beynon-Davies (2006) elucidate that “identity management involves systems for
the identification of a variety of objects supporting societal behavior;
people, goods, places, etc”.  In fact, as
opined by Yeow et al (2013) who adopt a technical approach in their paper,
mentioned that “since the 9/11 terrorist attack in the US, many countries of
the world have considered using “smart national identity card” (SNIC) which has
the ability to identify terrorists in their forms and guise due to its
biometric verification function”.

 ‘Identity
card technology has been adopted by several countries for various purposes, In Nigeria,
It was adopted for voter registration in elections’.It is in this vein and for
more other salient factors that some countries of the world had adopted the use
of identity card. The role of technology in the Nigeria election (Lewis, 2011) cannot
be overemphasized because “fraudulent registration was possible during the old and
archaic identity card regime as registration was basically manual so it was
easy to duplicate cards”. In working towards more rational/technical approaches
for better results, the new identity card scheme that involves biometrics data
capture and the issuance of a unique personalized National identity number upon
registration as well as several other security features (Canada: Immigration
and Refugee Board of Canada, 2016) was introduced by President Goodluck
Jonathan, although, with some possibilities of tampering, (Lewis, 2011). Lewis
(2010) further mentioned that “Nigeria’s recent electoral season marked an
important departure from the familiar trajectory of politics in that country
and history of flawed elections and oligarchic control”. The rationalist
perspective system adopted, (although marred with some hooliganism behavior)
during the general election has prompted the president and the country to roll
out “13m MasterCard branded national identity SmartCards” (African Business,
2013). The essence of this identity card for the people of Nigeria is to serve
as “personal database repository and payment card”. In fact, “it will serve to
establish the identity of the individual in such a way that privacy is assured
and updating personal information is made easier” (Canada: Immigration and
Refugee Board of Canada, 2016).

It is no doubt that due to the adoption of
the electronic national identity card in Hong Kong, Goodstadt et al (2015)
emphasize their rational scope that the electronic identity card that has been
described in terms of building a sense of community among the citizenry and
gives access to various services denied to other Chinese. Notably, they mention
that “its selling point with the Hong Kong public is its contribution to
solving the practical problems first of a refugee city whose political and
legal status was ill-defined”

Notwithstanding, the social embedded
authors have totally disagreed with the importance of national identity card in
the polity of their nations as the issue of the national identity card has
become “the most controversial and sensitive of areas because of its
association with issues of personal privacy and individuality” (Beynon-Davies,
2006). It is in addition to this regard that Neumann & Weinstein (2001)
adopt a socially embedded perspective in their papers and concluded that “the
belief that “smart” national identity cards could provide irrefutable biometric
matches without false positives and negatives is fallacious”. They further
point out that such system can still be cracked and terrorists or criminals
alike find ways to exploit them using the false sense of security that the
cards provide to their own advantage. The case of UK failed national identity
card has been noted by many authors and has been specifically pointed out by
Whitley et al (2007) that the introduction of the national identity card is a
highly complex policy being designed and proposed in a highly complex
environment. They observed that the much awareness of the complexity was lost
in the popular perceptions, particularly in the media and government itself.

CASE
DESCRIPTION

The author of the case of national
identity card in India in his work critically “discussed social and ethical
aspects of a new national project ID also called (UID) to Indian residents”
which is a “technology-based solution that would change the face of governance in
India” (Ramakumar, 2010). In his decisive analysis, he argued passionately that
if the project is undertaken, it will violate citizens’ rights and freedom in
the course of collecting their personal information which will be wrongly used
against the citizenry in future; just as he makes emphasis on the peoples’
right, present and future welfare services to be rendered, and of course the
lack of information on the cost to be expended. To corroborate the author’s
opinion and in support of the study, Manu (2010) opines that “the project has
both technology and privacy concerns”. Experts, he points out “argue that a
comprehensive information database of all Indians lends itself to misuse”. He
also states that “among the major risks are errors in compiling information
about individuals in a project of a gigantic scale and authorized access to
information”.

He is more of the opinion that technology
should be focused more on the social welfare of the people, especially in the
rural areas than exerting energy and attention on such project. Ramakumar
(2010) also “argued that wrong emphasis was placed on the advantages to be
accrued on the use of technology for the project and as such, it remains
unproven to handle large population as expected for the project”, which is a
pointer to the appointing a technologist as the chairman of the board. In fact,
the author believes there was a bit of biasness by choosing a technocrat as the
head of the project and not a social scientist or a demographer. He believes it
would cut-off the interest and welfare and civic right of the Indian people. Yoon
& Kim (2017) in expatiating on the superior of socialist thinking viz-a-viz
technology or other sciences believe that “social science data differ from data
in the hard core sciences” which focuses more on the welfare structure of the
populace and their environment while collecting the information for the project
as against other sciences and technology.

The author as a social scientist was not
comfortable that the cost-benefit analysis of the project was not done or
carried out which could spell doom as the India government are putting the
country’s wealth on a gigantic project that could fail. He asserts that such
wealth could be used in other areas of technological development that will
positively affect the lives of the citizenry. In his words, he opined that “it
is not clear if the recurring costs to be incurred on the project to maintain
and effective and efficient network system has been accounted for by the government.
Also, there is a serious need for the costs involved in a project of the size
and scale as the UID project to be very enormous and it has to be weighed
against the limited benefits that are likely to follow” (Ramakumar, 2010).
Hence, he is critical about the cost to be incurred and in his criticism, he
would want the project to “start with small number of people……as this is to
suggest its importance to national growth and cutting unnecessary wastages”.

The author was totally against the idea
that the roots of public failure in India is due to identity project but rather
corruption in public places, fraud and other induced policy should be the
major  attention to be tackled. It is in
this acceptable opinion and as mentioned by Rajanish (2011) that “critics
question whether the project can have as big an impact as its backers promise,
given that identity fraud is but one contributor to India’s development
struggles” and not the adoption of technology for a new identity card system.

CASE
ANALYSIS

In a country with one of the largest
population in the world, the ability to do the right thing at the right time
cannot be understated, especially as it concerns the citizenry in a democratic
setting. People will react to any activity that will not naturally support
their livelihood and this gives a good reason and importance attached to the
welfare of people in a certain environment regardless the class as it supports
the socially embedded perspective of the author in the case study of identity
card in India.

Contrary to the author’s opinion on the
important and use of technology for the identity card, Schlageter (2005) opined
that “the importance of technology in the business world grows with each
passing year”, and from the case study of India’s Identity Card project, the
usage of such technology for the task will bring about process, structure and
effective use of the database garnered for other human development in the
country. In fact, Al-Khouri (2011) asserts that “without a clear blueprint and
plan, organizations are more likely to drift and run in different directions”,
– an avoidable failure if the technology is properly used. In the work of
Hosman et al (2008) of a rational thinking perspective and contrary to the
author’s opinion, they mention that “with the advancement of information and
communication technologies (ICTs), e-government has emerged as an effective
means of delivering government services to citizens”, and putting this in a
very effective situation from the city to the rural areas will bring about the
desired results for welfare of the people, security and technology advancement.

The author in his paper of adopting a
socially embedded viewpoint, observes that the human factor in decision making is
paramount to the “democratic political system that requires broad-based support
and consensus to make the political process efficient and secure” (Yi, 2001).
It thus shows the author’s agreement to the identity card creation and rather diverting
attention to the stature of the person in charge of the committee. In any case,
attention should be centered on the substance of the project rather than the
person.

More importantly, lack and proper
information dissemination, and an ability to carry all and sundry along, need
be corrected in the proposed Indian identity card implementation, in order to
avoid conflict from professionals. Information dissemination needs to be
appropriately done and the carrying along of stakeholders will have positive
impact on the project. It should be noted that the processes and equipment to
be used are technical; and this suggest that it is beneficial to have a
technocrat as the head of the committee considering the aim and objectives of
the project, while other professionals can support in the creation of standards
and in the dissemination of the benefit to the people and the country as a
whole.

REFLECTIONS

It is noteworthy on the attempt of the
author’s socially embedded argument of the case study to mention some grey areas
in his opinion as regards identity card system in India. This include but the
fact that “the deployment of digital technologies in creating identification
systems has made accessing, collating and comparing databases faster, easier
and more accurate” (Swagato, 2014). Hence, Yadav (2014) suggests that the
Unique Identification project (UID) will cover some voids as an inclusive innovation
in the country where more than 400 millions of poor suffer in the hands of the
existing corrupt system”. There need to be a better implementation of the identity
card program because the end results of the identity card implementation will
result to the reduction of identity theft, improving the country’s national
security and the maintenance of adequate protection (Jackson & Ligertwood,
2006)

In such a massive project, the citizenry
need to be involved, hence, they need to be carried along in the adoption of
the project citing its importance and as supported in this regard, Al-Khouri
(2011) in his paper mentions that it is also important by “developing a social
media marketing strategy to better understand community interests by running
customer and market surveys within the social communities, and promote
engagement and social participation into the project value system. Bangladesh
as a country was in a similar situation like the case study- India, rather, their
similar project- “Preparation of Electoral Roll with Photographs (PERP) was
done in a politically controlled environment where the people worked in a
highly structured management system following a concrete and realistic roadmap”
(Islam & Grönlund, 2010).

For a project to be considered successful,
the “perceived benefits of such scheme need to be well quantified in terms of
its value and impact on the society as well as its capacity to generate revenue
or save cost” Rajanish (2011). It is in this view as regards cost to be
incurred challenge that the UAE instigated a change process to enact an
organizational mindset change with the aim of developing a service driven and
result oriented organization which aims to increase accountability, improve
efficiency and high quality services (Al-Khouri, 2007)- this is the hallmark of
a successful project for the development of a nation with the identity card
program which need to be considered in the case of India.

Finally and as opined by Islam &
Grönlund (2010), the information to be garnered for the purpose of the identity
card must be used for improving government services to citizens in order to
become a tool for a government that is trusted; that is when it can be
beneficiary to all and sundry. “The main question arising from any proposal to
introduce an identity card is whether its negative impact on the human and
legal rights of citizens is sufficiently balanced by the benefits arising from
the reduction of the problems it is designed to reduce, such as identity fraud
or threats to national security”. Consequently, the introduction of national
identity card in the country’s polity outweighs any unforeseen or potential
disadvantages (Beck & Broadhurst, 1998) which is paramount in the decision
making.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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