ONE NATION, SO MANY CARDS!!

about 1 month ago
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78-years old, Mrs. Geeta, bang in the middle of the pandemic, had a fall at home and broke her hip. She needed an urgent hip replacement surgery. So, she first had to get a Covid test and when that showed negative, only then would her surgery happen. Fair enough.

But for the Covid test, her Aadhaar card number was needed and just in case, they also asked to keep the Pan Card handy. The tests happened and came in negative. Off to the hospital for surgery – before admission again, apart from money, she needed to provide the details of her Aadhaar and Pan card. This means medical history of people is already being collected despite the Health Ministry telling us that this won’t happen. All this came to mind when we learnt that we will now need to carry with us one more card – the Health ID. This is another source of data for the Govt and that’s all it is.

And here we all thought the Govt, shaken up by the pandemic, finally came to realise that it needs to spend more on health care. Yes, it will spend more but on making these new cards all over again. This card will be the panacea for all troubles – it will store all medical history of the person, his mobile number or the Aadhaar number. So, one more linkage to Aadhaar will soon happen after Pan.

But is this all that the pandemic is teaching the Govt – the need for an ID so that it can have more data? What about the acute lack of basic health services for the citizens. No new Govt hospitals have come up in recent times – why wasn’t this opportunity used to build more of these? Isn’t that the biggest gaping hole in our lives right now – complete chaos, over crowded hospitals, lack of bed, lack of doctors and medicines too. Instead of taking care of this on a war footing, the ID is more essential?

Its like this – if the presence and efficiency of Govt hospitals was something based on which FIIs and FDI money was to come to India, surely this would have become priority number one.

And what about the data privacy? What, that exists in India? You walk into any Vodafone or any service provider’s center. If you are applying for a new sim or getting a replacement for a lost one, they ask you for a mound of identity documents. You give the zerox copies to them and they just look at it and it then lays there on the table along with scores of other “identity data,” unprotected and out in the open for all to see. This is not just at such service centers; you go to a bank, people’s identity data lay there on the tables of the employees. So, when people are so careless and lackadaisical about protecting data, what data theft are we talking about today?

An Aadhaar should ideally be the mother of all documents; you have that, you should not be required to provide more proof. But here, right from KYC to anything, why do we still require to give so many proofs – of age, of residence, and of being you?

Thus we just keep on adding newer and newer “identities” but not a single one alone is good enough as proof. That’s the faith we have on our documents! Well, in a country where your identity is recognized only if you are rich, famous or politically connected, there is really no aadhaar to this identity theft cry! And soon even your health will be out there for all to see but good, affordable health service? What’s that????

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