Thursday, October 13, 2011

The UID Experience

Unique Identification Number or the UID is something that is expected to change the face of the nation.
In the future, it is not going to be not just a card or a 12 digit number but a reflection of your complete identity linking your bank accounts, driving license, PAN card etc. It may well be your permanent phone number of the future.

The drive for registering the citizens of India is on and I was excited to get the 12 digit number for myself and flaunt it on Facebook. But it was not to be.

One such camp has been put up at a Gurudwara near my home and I went there to get myself UID-ed.

It is not a cumbersome process and if you are alone at the center, it would take you around 15 minutes to register for it. Less if the person registering you is faster at typing. Lesser if the whole family is together as you need not type the address again and again.

But the problem with India is the numbers. The major waiting time is to wait in the line.

The basic process is that you fill out a form with details like name, father's name, address, date of birth. Email, phone number are optional. I wrote them but still the guy putting the data on the computer did not enter them. Attach one or more identification documents as DOB and residence proof.

You submit this document at the desk and then wait. I had a home nearby so I submitted and went home, had lunch, rested and came back an hour later.

My form along with two others were allocated to a computer guy. I sat there seeing the computer software work as this guy entered the details of the person before me.

The software was impressive but the hardware was not. The peripherals were but there was the same problem with the laptop as is the case with most laptops I see today (even with mine).  While typing the cursor with its own mind goes to any place it wants without any guidance from the trackpad. It goes to the previous line or at some place else in the same line and if you are not looking at the screen while typing you will not come to know and will keep typing rubbish.
Clearly our guy was not very adept at typing and was typing slowly looking at the keyboard and this hardware problem was screwing the software efficacy.

The screen had a form with different tabs. Firstly you scan your finger prints in 3 installments using a special scanner. As the computer records them it beeps. Next you sit down in front of a screen and put a scanner in front of your eyes as the computer records your retina details.

Then the guy starts filling out the details from the form you had earlier filled out. A duplicate screen is in front of you so that you can also see what is being typed and correct him at any point.

As he types in the left column in English, the translated version automatically appears in Hindi in the right column. So after around 10 - 15 minutes of data entry of all kinds, your form is ready to be saved.
The data entry person has to put his finger prints as a record of who has done the entry.

I had thought that at the end of it, a brand new identity for me - the UID would be generated. But it was only a temporary number. Of course some background checks will be carried out before handing me the identity - it will take around 2 months.

The 'early adopters' for getting the UID made were mostly people from the strata of the society who are not economically well-off - mostly from the small villages around Chandigarh. Of course they need it more.
For people like me  - we just need it show it off on FB!

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