Another crazy ID scheme, this time in India.
ID cards planned for India’s 1.1 billion
Hi-tech entrepreneur will lead operation to create huge database (headings from the story in the Independent)
Here the rationale is not just “terrorism” but also a claim that ID cards will benefit the poor.
…..will help in the delivery of vital social services to the poorest in society who often lack – or are at least told they lack – sufficient identification papers. The government has long complained that most of the money set aside for the neediest is diverted as a result of corruption, and it believes the cards could help to tackle identity theft and fraud.
Hmm. An impressive sleight of hand in “ID-card justification” creation, although the Indian government is clearly following a model similar to the UK one. The “fighting poverty” argument is:
(1) Corruption prevents relief of poverty.
(2) ID cards will prevent identity theft and fraud.
Where is the logical connection between 1 and 2?
I will temporary defy logic and try my best to look at the argument from the pro-ID card side.
Even on the assumption that corruption is the only bar to stopping poverty (which is a big and unjustified leap of faith) doesn’t that make dealing with corruption the main priority?
To get from priority 1 to priority 2, you would have to assume that “identity theft” is the only way that “corruption” works.
You would also have to assume that no “corruption” could possibly be involved in handing over billion dollar contracts to major industrialists.
(This is a leap of faith that is far beyond my jumping abilities. Silly me, I would have assumed that pumping resources in to relieve poverty and to stamp out corruption would be the intuitive way to go. You live and learn, hey?)
You would have to assume that identification documents wouldn’t become another incomprehensible/insurmountable burden for the very poorest that would probably make it even harder for them to access resources. (ditto… This is a leap of faith ….)
And you also need to believe that this won’t give rise to a new set of forms of corruption – in distributing ID documents, forging them, and so on.
Which might illustrate an admirable capacity for inventiveness in the face of survival pressures. But it’s quite hard to see how creating new forms of criminal industry would otherwise bring any benefit to the Indian poor.
The Independent says that the poor ” often lack – or are at least told they lack – sufficient identification papers.”
This scheme will provide a whole new set of identification papers for the poor to be told that they lack, then. From the perspective of the poor, this is a scheme that you could best characterise as “adding insult to injury.”