In 2009, India was introduced to Aadhaar, the biometrics and information-containing database. After two years, from 2011, the socioeconomic and caste census was sought to be updated. For the last 5 years, there has been a tremendous effort to create a database called the National Social Registry(NSR).
Srinivas Kodali is a data and internet governance researcher. He obtained this information through a Right To Information Act (RTI). According to him, this is a researchable database that is meant to perpetually track the lives of 1.2 billion people of India. What calls for alertness is that this registry will enable surveillance without legal frameworks to prevent its misuse.
This news is very important for every citizen of India because this NSR will establish serious tracking of their personal life. Imagine you are getting married or buying a plot of land or moving away from a city or joining a new job, you will always be under the government’s watch. This information will be updated in real-time, mind you.
Now, by the nation’s supreme court, it has been clarified in 2018 that Aadhaar ID doesn’t violate citizens’ privacy. But what when the database of Aadhaar is misused to create this database of NSR to peek into people’s personal life? And meanwhile, the same court also said that the use of Aadhar should not be mandated by private entities. Its usage must be limited to welfare schemes only. But guess what? The new committee formed to create NSR is all set to propose an amendment of this Aadhaar act. This will destabilize all the security of the personal information that supreme wanted to be preserved.
Another set up called a face-recognition program is to be introduced. In the garb of intending to catch miscreants and missing children, it can be used to manifest unchecked surveillance since there is no way to ensure an ethical way of a collection of data or it’s usage, say the experts. By this project, 1100 people have been ‘identified’ as rioters according to India’s Home Minister, Amit Shah. He also said that the cops used driver’s licenses and voter ID cards in addition to this database to get hold of these people.
The current situation under the ongoing regime is not a safe haven for the citizens of India. Internal pressure is immense of the government due to its several new Acts and laws. The CAA that has sparked the ire of selected communities of the nation, is just one brainchild of the current regime. It bifurcates between its citizens and attributes unequal identity to them.
The central government has been passing bills in the parliament by the power of its majority there; hence, they need not justify their actions. But the informed and aware citizens are not stepping behind to criticize the government of its misdoings. Hence, the government has always provided a charming reason to justify or hide the real intention. Even this new NSR is justified as a database to protect the nation from terrorist and “unwanted” immigrants like Aadhar was justified earlier as a means to help the poor.
The experts and the citizens do not see good signs in making this NSR. Instead, they believe it to be another state apparatus to repress it’s citizens’ liberties. It is a tough time for those who remain dirt in the government’s eyes because they know not when they will be awaiting a whitewash.