India Insight

The Unique Identity number — putting all eggs in one basket?

There was a television ad some time back where a village leader played by Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan cutely decrees that feuding villagers would be known by their mobile numbers rather than names denoting caste or community.

It’s an idea that no longer seems far-fetched.

This week, the finance minister allocated 1200 million rupees to  the Unique Identification Authority of India, headed by former Infosys chief Nandan Nilekani.

The project provides a unique identity number, something like the U.S. social security number, to India’s billion-plus citizens.

It involves setting up a database with the identification details of citizens.

“It also uses an advanced technology like biometrics on a scale which has not been used anywhere in the world,” said Nilekani.

The biometric details will make identification foolproof.

Multi-purpose National Identity Cards have already been issued to a million citizens under a test scheme in some districts.

from UK News:

How can rickety cars put India on road to success?

When it comes to climate change, the environment and other weighty issues, what could the leaders of the world's biggest democracy possibly learn from the rural Indians who cobble together rickety cars out of scrap metal and old bits of wood?

One of India's best known businessmen says the improvised vehicles that carry crops and passengers along dusty village roads show how local people are often the best innovators, coming up with cheap and effective answers to tough problems.

Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of the technology company Infosys, thinks politicians would do well to remember the decentralized philosophy behind the "jugaad". Mechanics with little money and poor access to cheap parts use whatever is at hand to build them: water pumps replace normal engines; wooden blocks stand in for brakes and old planks of wood provide the floor.

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