The Unique Identification Card Project in India, once implemented, will provide a unique number to its citizens by the year 2011. The ambitious project will be implemented by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which believes that the project will address issues, like rigged elections, loopholes in the food distribution system, plaguing the current system. The project is also expected to improve the National security by addressing the issue of illegal immigration through innovative use of biometric technology like the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
Research has shown that only a tiny portion of the intended benefit of poverty elimination schemes like the MGNREGS actually reaches the intended beneficiary, with a major chunk of the benefits vanishing into the pockets of the middlemen. The UIDAI hopes to plug this gap in the system by streamlining the distribution system so that the benefits reach the rural poor. The new system will use an automated fingerprint identifier to weed out ghost workers and those misusing the scheme.
Biometric ID’s to plug leakages in the Rural Job Scheme
The government of India plans to use a Fingerprint Identification system to streamline the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. This comes after a research report revealed that the MGNREGS scheme was plagued by systematic leakages that reduced the efficiency of the system. The proposal seeks to roll out a GPS enabled biometric attendance system for the job guarantee workers, which will help to remove the irregularities of the current system. A panel comprising of technocrats from the ministry of rural development, department of financial services and the Unique Identification Authority of India has prepared a proposal that aims to address the problems of ghost workers and misappropriation of job cards.
Loopholes in the MGNREGS system
Earlier the government had received reports that there was rampant dishonesty in the implementation of the MGNREGS scheme, which is considered to be the flagship rural poverty elimination scheme in the country, with more than Rs 40,000 Crores allocated. The government conceded this fact on the floor of the parliament, saying that it had knowledge of 27 complaints relating to the diversion and leakage of funds under the job scheme. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s report said that the rural employment data given by the ministry of Rural Development was not reliable because of the poor maintenance of records.
The proposal seeks to enroll all the beneficiaries to a biometric attendance system that would use a Fingerprint scanner to check whether the person- who has showed up for work – is entitled under the scheme. The data collected this way would be transmitted through a GPS enabled cellphone for authentication. This is expected to reduce the instances of ghost workers and misappropriation of cards that is characteristic of the present system.