Made in China: You

That there has been some confusion around this Aadhaar card thing is like saying that the Arabian desert contains some sand.

Right from day one, there has been little clarity in the matter, and among the actual lines that I came across while reading for this piece is: The Aadhaar data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established on 12 July, 2016, and the first Aadhaar card was issued in, ahem, 2010. So, who officially collected all your personal data before 2016? Chinese hackers, of course. By 2020, China will flood the Indian market with your cheap lookalikes.

Just joking. But as of now, this is what we publicly know of Aadhaar: 1) It contains many unique biometric details like your fingerprint, your iris imprint and, if you are a woman, the colour of your dupatta. 2) It is not mandatory except on occasions when it is mandatory. 2-a) The previous statement is not a joke. 3) It is certainly not a proof of your address; your ration ration card is though.  3-a) But your ration card is linked to Aadhaar in most States now. 4) It is not a proof of your Indian citizenship. 4-a) The proof of your Indian citizenship is of course in you reaching for the overhead luggage compartment even before the flight has come to a halt.  4) It is, no doubt, proof of your identity. 5-a) Except that in the pic on Aadhaar, most of you look like that elder MGR in Naalai Namadhe. 6) Till the moment of writing (just now), 113,03,08,464 is the total number of Aadhaar cards issued, which is, in American system, over 1.13 billion, and, in Indian system, a huge number.

On the political side, the BJP opposed the Aadhaar while in the opposition, and now Congress opposes while it is in the opposition. So, whatever you say of Aadhaar, it is true proof that politicians are basically complete jerks.

This being the background, this week the Central government has moved in the direction of making Aadhaar compulsory for filing your tax returns. Which unfortunately does not mean what I thought it means: If you don’t have an Aadhaar, the central government will waive off your taxes.

The government is making Aadhaar mandatory for filing IT returns because the previous system was apparently getting less confusing and people were getting used to it. To make things most difficult and cumbersome for the public is the essential motto of Income Tax department.

At the state level, too, things are moving in the direction where driving licences will be issued only if the driver manages to put, instead of ‘8’, the 12-digit Aadhaar number. Not really. But you know it.

Anyway, while I am not a fan of this Aadhaar thing, or for that matter most of government schemes, but I still don’t get the privacy fears over it. It is not as if I trust the government, but some of the stories that are woven around Aadhaar privacy are plain bizarre. Like this: All your personal details will be sold to an American company, which will in turn pass it on to the American government which is headed by Donald Trump who will personally blackmail you.

To be sure, many politicos are criminal. But, in my experience, governments as an entity are at best a bumbling fool. It will fail the people. Unless it is the North Korean government, in which case it will entertain the people. But I will tell you what is unfailing criminal: Your modern-day corporates, banks and financial institutions, with which you place all your trust in. They are Donald Trump in Justin Trudeau persona, if you get my drift.

The thing is even without the Aadhaar, your personal details are actually already with many private parties. And you yourselves have parted with them at various points. Okay, the companies and outlets you shop at may not have your biometric details, but they have worse: Your undergarment size and the fact you are partial to the Jockey brand floral colour prints. Yikes!

In the end, do I endorse Aadhaar or not? The government has repeatedly assured that your personal details in its well-guarded central digital system are safe, which proves that government is serious in proving that it has a sense of humour. The point is: No detail in the online digital world  is ever safe. More so, stuff in government custody. So just ignore the assurances. Even as I speak, Chinese hackers are walking away with all my details.

But still, I don’t mind sticking with Aadhaar, if not for anything then at least for running into my Chinese clone anytime soon.

Hello, Balaxi Kumaraxo!