Part 1 – Citizenship and its archive today: the intensely duplicated de-duplicate

Who or what is the subject of contemporary identity, and what politics ensue in the face of this emergent subject? This question, is the central one that this experiment cum blog seems to find itself addressing.

Zipless encounters with the identification establishment

Before I begin with a comment I will stretch out over two or more posts, I might for this entry recount a conversation I had with a fellow scholar this past week, who was telling me of her experience in signing up for the UID/Aadhaar card. What made it so easy, she said, was that I did not need to bring any documents.

Look how easy!: Bihar leaders show their UID registration papers

Her experience runs against many of the reports of UID registration covered in news articles and elsewhere. For the moment and taking her account seriously, let me presume that the question of using biometrics, big data, and the rationalized and deterritorialized reorganization of welfare to generate trust—the promise of UID in a nutshell—itself enters into a world in which preexisting ecologies of risk and trustworthiness produce differing modes of entrance into UID’s promise.
In the case of this one person, the mode of entrance was entirely friction-free. To borrow a favorite adjective from Erica Jong, it appeared “zipless.”

I am presuming that such zipless encounters are not evenly distributed. But suspending for the moment my hermeneutic of suspicion, the social fact (if that is what it is) of the ease of entrance into Aadhaar is worth thinking with. I will be reading both Akhil Gupta‘s and Matthew Hull‘s recent books in the next few weeks. Both differently attend to the relation of bureaucracy to the materiality and force of the document, extending a conversation Annaliese Riles, Laura Bear, and Emma Tarlo among others have engendered. But the claim advanced to me, by and for a certain kind of subject, was for a relation to entitlement and belonging that required no documents. Whatever its relation to actual practice, as such the claim bears attention.

This scholar made two other points. First, she noted that such zipless ease could be manipulated. It is fine for people like you and I, she said, and I should note that these words are my reconstruction of a conversation some hours after it took place, but others could create duplicate numbers. Her use of the duplicate was perhaps a response to my own mention, earlier, of my growing interest in de-duplication as a mode of governance.

If I am correct in reading the implicit theory of value and the state in the project of Aadhaar as a dual diagnosis of ‘duplication from above’ [the redirection of the common wealth by the powerful through the creation of phantom populations that receive entitlement monies or materials] and ‘duplication from below’ [the redirection of the common wealth by the ‘common man’ or janata manipulating the varied identities given one by the state], then taking this scholar’s concern seriously produces a middle-subject [there must be some useful expression of this in German, say] that can be trusted not to duplicate itself and that can, therefore, be granted ID ziplessly. Or rather, all subjects may variably make claims on their status as such a middle-subject.

My interlocutor made another point. The agency that registered her, pleasant and unencumbered by documents though it was, could answer few of her questions.  Simply put, its employees seemed to have little understanding of the UID number or its use. Their sphere of competence focused on the technical practice of registration and not the afterlife of that enrollment.

For the moment, and as with the earlier points with awareness of the limits of a single conversation, we might define what is at stake here as a particular temporality of enrollment or registration. Aadhaar, that is, may seem to bear a particular relation to the present, with its relation to what after Jane Guyer I will term the near future in question.

If the scholar suggested the limit to a unitary process of enrollment, given the distinction between the middle-subject (always already de-duplicated) and the duplicating, cheating subject, we might attend to how the figure of the Universal Subject of “Universal ID,” the basis [“aadhaar”] of the promise of a national telos of fairness, reason, and wealth, may always already contain within itself a doubling or duplication, a split subject that will threaten to defeat the very project of universalizing, de-duplicating technology.

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Invitation to Contract: Assam, Aadhaar, How Governments Now Work

Continuing on a series of posts on the Government of India’s early 2012 decision to keep “insecure” zones of the country like most of the Northeast (particularly its largest state, Assam) out of the Aadhaar/UID biometrics program, to be monitored instead by the more territorialized, security-focused National Population Register (NPR):

Life in the Security Zone: protesters against state evictions, June 2012, Guwahati, Assam

What Is and Is Not in the News

Assam is daily in the news, though the retraction of Aadhaar from the region receives almost no press. Given that Aadhaar has become central to the promissary return of contemporary governance, the card’s appearing to give back secure entitlements to electoral supporters of the ruling coalition (and of the rationalized “corporate-ethical” sector [more on this concept soon] granted increasing control over specific state functions), the withdrawal of this promissary return would seem to generate its own press.  This is absent. I want to understand why.

The first answer is that Aadhaar has become so identified in Assam (and for many across India in relation to Assam in particular) with the “inflitration” of the Bangladeshi migrant into the citizenship and entitlement rolls that its removal generates little remorse among the dominant regional constiuencies of elite media, the media I at this point have access to via the Internet.

But one might expect the emergence of calls for a modified form of biometric registration, one that was not “universal” but separated citizens from mere residents in the dispensation of current entitlement and future promise. At this point I am going to argue that no such calls have emerged that are focused on the “proper” citizenry of Assam or at least no such calls seem to have been able to go public. I may well retract this claim if and when I can find substantial evidence to the contrary.

Such exclusive claims for rights in promissary citizenship in Assam are likely to be of two dominant kinds: rights in law [the Assamese resident and Indian citizen against the illegal migrant] and rights in nature [the Bodo autochthon against the non-Bodo stranger, the latter currently the illegal migrant]. But calls to redraft the form of Aadhaar to shore up these rights do not seem to have intensified with the state’s loss of easy access to UID.

The Assam-focused press is diverse, otherwise. It is devoted to registers of incivility and instability, of state violence and of state welfare in the face of civil violence. It seems both to support and to trouble the anti-migrant sentiment discussed in previous postings. Much national attention on Assam and its capital Guwahati has focused on the recent beating and forced-stripping of a girl in Guwahati this past July by a large group of jeering men, the event apparently captured on video. Many of the responses to the attack on this girl that I have seen on various media are complicit with a racialization of the Assamese as “backward” and somehow categorically unstable: in effect justifying the zonal distribution of modes of biometric control at stake in the division of the country between Security/NPR and Liberalization/UID.

There has been some press as well focused on resistance to government eviction drives against poor urban and rural slumdwellers occupying illegal “hutments.” The news photo above is of a piece with that genre.

None of these events are restricted to Assam–not communal killings, not sexualized violence against women, not the state policy of slum dispossession–but they form part of a mediascape affirming the state’s exceptional status and its exclusion, to use the first pass at a language I developed in the previous post, from the power zone of economic liberalization into the security zone [these terms are not conceptually adequate for many reasons, but for now the point is to focus on a zonal form of doubled or duplicated governance].

Two Orders of Contract?

Most of the documentation available online on Aadhaar in Assam is from the first, earlier moment, before January 2012, the moment when the biometric program’s promise for this marginal state had not been given over to the Security regime of NPR.

Information and reports at least via the Internet quickly dry up after January.

Perhaps the very nature of a security based enterprise like the NPR is that it produces a much smaller penumbra and far fewer traces of itself. Or to put it differently: both security interventions (like NPR) and liberalization interventions (like UID) now depend on a contractual relation between state agencies (like the ministries of home and of finance, respectively) and corporate sector companies to implement the new identity biometrics. But how contracts are established and entered into may differ between power zones and security zones. This post is a first effort to push myself to attend to the specificities of contract in the structuring of government: the emergent history of biometrics, in which twin national database regimes are being established in parallel, suggests that there is not a single pragmatics of contract, a single logic of governance, being crafted.

Having written this, I should note that I do not yet understand how the Interior Ministry’s NPR will work. It is tied to the Census, or has been, so part of the question is the organization of labor, capital, and control of the census over the next decade. I am in part assuming that security apparatuses, no less than other state functions, have throughout the world been given over to contract with privatized capital. But I should be cautious.

A second note of caution: the January 2012 entente between NPR and UID, between Security and Finance, between the Home Ministry and the Planning Commission, involved the powerful then Home Minister Chidambaram, who has recently again been given the Finance Ministry, a position he had earlier occupied. In other words, if the late 2011 struggle over the nation cum database focused on the tussle between these two ministries and presumably their distinct forms of governance over security and economy, how do we understand the movement back and forth of this powerful official?

Chidambaram aside, the very presence of two parallel such logics of governance and two parallel programs of biometric ID may suggest a second order of contract, not the contract between the state agency proposing and the private company executing one or the other mode of biometric inclusion but rather the contract governing the relation between two two orders or modes of registering people biometrically, of financial liberalization versus security.

What Was: Traces of the Earlier Promise of Aadhaar for Assam

The text for today is an RFQ, a Request for Quotation [that is a bid for contract] put out by the Government of Assam in the earlier phase of its relation to Aadhaar. For now I cite only a few small sections.

Invitation to Contract?

GOVERNMENT OF ASSAM DEPARTMENT OF PANCHAYAT & RURAL DEVELOPMENT
TENDER NO. – DPRD/P/183/09-10/127
REQUEST FOR QUOTATION: FOR SELECTION OF UID ENROLMENT AGENCIES FOR THE UID PROJECT (PHASE I) OF GOVT. OF ASSAM
Date of Release of RFQ: 24th Dec, 2010
Date of Pre bid meeting: 10th Jan, 2011, 1430 hrs
Last date of Submission of Bid: 21st Jan, 2011 (Up to 1500 hrs)
Date of Opening of Bid: 21st Jan, 2011 (1600 hrs)
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Vol I: Instruction to Bidders
Vol II: Scope of Work
Vol III: Standard Contracts

Initially in the first phase, the UID project will be implemented in 5 (Five) districts of Assam, i.e Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Sonitpur, Sivasagar and Tinsukia. The Panchayat and Rural Development Deptt. will be Registrar for the districts of Sonitpur, Sivasagar and Tinsukia. Food and Civil supplies Deptt. would be Registrar for the project in Jorhat and Dibrugarh. Accordingly the districts have been clubbed in 2 schedules. The Registrar will implement the project in their districts block wise. Commissioner, P& RD as convener of the sub-committee for selection of Enrolment Agencies is inviting bids for both the schedules.

Under the project all KYR demographic and biometric data as per UIDAI standard would be captured from all residents. In addition data under KYR+ standard as detailed below would also be captured along with KYR data from residents.

The KYR + fields include –
1. Bank Account (which includes Post Office Account also)
2. Job Card No. under MGNREGA
3. RSBY No.
4. BPL (ID)
5. TIN No. (Census)
6. Ration Card No. (AAY/BPL/ FIC/ APL Card)
7. Profession (Service, Self Employed, Cultivator, Labour, Student etc.)
8. Panchayat Name.
N.B.: There might be addition of 4 to 6 more KYR+ fields in the data to be captured which will be notified later. The Project is expected to enroll around 69.26 lakhs residents [6.926 million] by 31st March 2012 (as per projected figure of 2010 population).

2.2 About UID Project
The Government of India (GoI) has embarked upon an ambitious initiative to provide a Unique Identification (UID) to every resident of India and has constituted the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for this purpose. The timing of this initiative coincides with the increased focus of the GoI on social inclusion and development through massive investments in various social sector programs, and transformation in public services delivery through e-Governance programs. The UID has been envisioned as a means for residents to easily and effectively establish their identity, to any agency, anywhere in the country, without having to repeatedly produce identity documentation to agencies. The enrolment is voluntary, More details on the UIDAI and the strategy overview can be found on the website: http://www.uidai.gov.in

The widespread implementation of the UID project needs the reach and flexibility to enroll residents across the country. To achieve this, the UIDAI is following a multiple registrar approach and proposes to partner with a variety of agencies and service providers (acting as Registrars, Sub-registrars and Enrolling Agencies) to enroll residents for UID. By participating in enrolling residents, registrars and enrolment agencies across the country would be part of a truly historic exercise, one which can make our welfare systems far more accessible and inclusive of the poor, and also permanently transform service delivery in India.

In this context, the Registrars shall engage enrolment agencies empanelled by UIDAI for carrying out the various functions and activities related to UID enrolment such as setting up of enrolment centers, undertaking collection of demographic and biometric data for UID enrollment and any other data required by the Registrar for the effective implementation of their projects. This Request for Quotation document is intended to invite bids from only those agencies which are empanelled by UIDAI for undertaking demographic and biometric data collection for enrolment of residents.

That was the prefactory material in the RFQ. 3 quick points, bearing in mind that these suggestions about variant logics of contract are very tentative on my part and far from fleshed out as a conceptual field:

1) Throughout this blog, I have been fascinated by the diagnosis of corruption in history at the core of UID biometrics, that of duplication. The awarding of contracts is among the more important sites of corruption globally and marks many previous and still simmering Indian corruption cases. So the question of variant pragmatics or logics of contract with which I began also raises a question of the “corrupt” duplication of these. Putting it more baldly: when is the invitation within the form of the RFQ in bad faith? How in practice are contracts awarded, entered into, monitored, and broken? If as in many cases of state contracts, the RFQ is a formality and the decision as to which company is chosen is determined by other means (so-called cronyism or what in India is usually called “the nexus,” for example), might we speak of the actual contract as a “duplicate” of the fair and formal contract promised by the RFQ?

2) This particular Assamese invitation [pre-January 2012] to contract may be in bad faith in a second way. Presumably, the aggressive rolling out of UID noted in this document was later shelved with Assam being declared proper not to UID but to NPR: companies invited to bid, and in so doing to invest in becoming registrars, were thus left without a growing market of persons considered proper to UID registration.

3) The document refers to KYR and NYR+ as two sets of information fields that UIDAI-contracted companies collect. From the last post’s documentation, we know a primary difference of UIDAI and NPR is that the latter will collect far more information. In the terms of territorialization and deterritorialization used earlier, UIDAI has more of a deterritorializing imperative.

KYR often stands for Know Your Resident. It is one of a proliferating series in corporate jargon of what we might call the KYX imperatives: Know Your ——. Know Your Customer, Know Your Client, and so forth. The form has been taken to with a vengeance by both business and government agencies in Anglophone India. On the web, one finds sites devoted to Know Your Mobile India, Know Your Visa, Know Your Assessing Officer, and many dozen others. The many ID numbers one receives in moving through the Indian bureaucratic and financial landscape can be accessed through KYX sites: thus Know Your PAN, Know Your TAN, and so forth. There are a range of sites named as Know Your India.

Know Your Resident is an important component of Aadhaar’s relation to territory and its ability to minimize the number of locational fields in service of its vision of liberalization and labor and entitlement rationalization. One apparently non-official site notes: “The strong authentication that the UIDAI will offer, combined with its KYR standards, can remove the need for such individual KYC [Know Your Customer] by banks for basic, no-frills accounts. It will thus vastly reduce the documentation the poor are required to produce for a bank account, and significantly bring down KYC costs for banks. The UIDAI will ensure that the Know Your Resident (KYR) standards don’t become a barrier for enrolling the poor, and will devise suitable procedures to ensure their inclusion without compromising the integrity of the data.”

Again, “Resident” like “Citizen” is effectively placed under erasure by UID/Aadhaar. That is, Aadhaar uses the promise of biometrics to produce a political subject that is resists nomination either as citizen or non-citizen, and yet, the opposition does not go away but hovers in much of the positive and negative discussion of the program. Aadhaar promises both to deterritorialize entitlements, severing the link of access to state programs from the natal or family village and all of the regressive entailments of native place, and to create effective territorialization for Banking, in the sense that the biometric “Resident” will somehow provide the trustworthiness enabling banks to advance credit to marginal actors. How exactly a subject is produced both not in place and in place, both as citizen and as resident, is I think a matter for engaged observation, aka “fieldwork.”

Aadhaar and “Financial Inclusion” on the doorstep: Biometrics and the double expansion of poverty capital

A news item this week promises new “financial inclusion” of those previously too poor to be eligible for formal savings and credit instruments in the legal banking industry.

Intensified bank recruiting for “no frills” accounts

Reporting from the Union Territory of Puducherry [the former Pondicherry], the August 5 edition of the Hindu notes:

The State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) has decided to step up campaign to lure people for opening bank accounts.

A meeting of SLBC, which held here recently, reviewed the progress of financial inclusion in the Union Territory.

A release said, the bankers were asked to give priority to those approaching banks for opening new accounts. The services of existing customers could be used for reaching out to others.

Simplification of norms

The norms for opening accounts were also simplified. They could open accounts with zero balance or low balance. Those, who had bank accounts, had been asked to hand over copies of ration card and “Aadhaar” card for including the details in their respective accounts immediately.

At the outset, some critics would understandably challenge the degree of inclusiveness of such publicity of inclusion. Thus Usha Ramanathan, whose article in Seminar I discussed in the previous blog post, compellingly challenges multiple “myths” promoted by the UIDAI and its boosters, including “the myth that this will be inclusive.” The enrollment structure of UID and Aadhaar formally parallels the typical enrollment structure of formal sector banking: one can only open a bank account, in many cases, through an introducer known to the bank, that is another account-holder. One’s access to banking presumes one maintains ties to others with the status of bank account-holders. Similarly, one registers for Aadhaar primarily in one of two ways: with sufficient formal documentation or, in the absence for many of the same [cf. the return of Jim Crow legislation in the ever more ugly United States] through an introducer.

Ramanathan does not in this short piece attend to the role of NGOs as introducers, discussed in the blog earlier in the context of debates over transgender inclusion under Aadhaar. But even if NGOs provide a different avenue of inclusion for variously marginal populations, they do so precisely through specific categories of humanitarian legibility producing their own terrain of limit and abandonment. One could both limit and extend her argument in reference to NGO “introducing.”

But here I want to support a claim opposite to that of Ramanathan, though not critical of or excluding her point. That is, how does inclusion itself become a ground of operations that might merit closer critical attention. The idea of inclusion as a form of subjectivization is not particularly novel, of course.  But it takes on a new range of relevance given the recent and ongoing powerful analysis of poverty capital and humanitarian goods by scholars like Ananya Roy, Vincanne Adams, Peter Redfield, and others. I had a recent and exciting conversation with William Stafford whose work rethinking the informality and extralegality of informal labor also engages the multiple ways in which “the poor” are being produced as forms of “potential value” and thus value.

At the outset, let me just note the following points, juxtaposing the brief Puducherri report with the photo above, referring to a different recent effort to include the previously excluded within formal sector banking through new “doorstep” enrollment programs linking humanitarian NGOs, corporate banks, and the state, a version of the expected current triumvirate.

(1) The expansion of banking to the poor, and thus of banking through the poor, operates in relation to Aadhaar in a double form, at least in reference to the limitations of the brief article. That is: new norms of simplified enrollment are to be offered as an inclusive measure. These norms parallel the design and rhetoric of UID/Aadhaar though the article does not state if Aadhaar will be used as a necessary or sufficient guarantor of the trustworthiness of the newly included marginal subject of finance. Given multiple previous articles splayed across the mediascape in which part of the promise of Aadhaar is its guarantee of financial inclusion, the use of Aadhaar in such new norms may be implied. But what is explicitly noted is something else, not that Aadhaar will be used to bring the marginal and excluded into the embrace of the included, but rather than Aadhaar will be demanded of the marginal and included: “Those, who had bank accounts, had been asked to hand over copies of ration card and ‘Aadhaar’ card for including the details in their respective accounts immediately.” In other words, not only is banking expanding in the sense of creating value through inclusion, given apparent recalibrations of trustworthiness through biometrics, but banking is expanding in the sense of creating value through intensifying its informational access to the already included by demanding of them new biometric links to their basic information. I will term this the double expansion, of persons included within the embrace of formal finance capital and of persons included within the economy of “basic information.”

(2) I lack as of yet adequate details of the “doorstep banking” programs that the photograph records. Of note is that this photo, part of a microfinance NGO’s self-audit and promotional materials, includes as obvious and necessary to the scene an act of biometric registration: a woman is having her fingerprints electronically taken through a mobile device “at the doorstep.” In a conversation we had at a conference at Berkeley organized by my colleagues Ananya Roy and Raka Ray, Ravi Sundaram of the Center for the Study of Developing Societies and Sarai pointed out that people’s lives are being saturated by a plethora of biometric demands, not only by UIDAI for the Aadhaar card. Here we have a microcredit program whose promise of total inclusion (“at the doorstep”) involves apparently parallel biometrics. From “a million mutinies now,” we seem to have slid into the age of a million biometrics. What remains in question, for me, is how this multiplicity of tracing will stand in relation to UID’s promise, or if you like threat, of universal de-duplication.

On the rental of infrastructure: some follow-up thoughts on the Hyderabad UID Scandal

The Hyderabad scandal I posted yesterday involved a former employee of IL&FS getting hold of his ex-colleagues’ laptop, offering him a portal into the virtual world of Universal Identification and allowing him and his confederates to add duplicates to the de-duplicated world of Aadhaar. IL&FS is, apparently, one of the many private entities that has taken on the registration of persons under UID. But it is much more.

IL&FS at work: the Visakhapatnam Industrial Water Supply Project

I’d like to pause here and to look at IL&FS as a new kind of entity in India and in the world. Before yesterday I admittedly knew nothing about the corporation, so as ever with this project my learning curve will be steep. I’ll begin, simply, by examining its own self-presentation online, and framing some questions.

IL&FS is Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited. Infrastructure as a duration has become among the most critical sites for anthropological reflection in our time, from the operations of Halliburton remaking the scale and temporality of the production of war, humanitarianism, and drug distribution in Kristin Peterson‘s work to the work on the productivity of infrastructure breakdown and interruption by Brian Larkin. What I mean by infrastructure as a duration extends beyond the “lifetime” of infrastructure: we are told, in the United States, that our infrastructure is “crumbling”: the nation itself as a promissary form is linked to this figure of duration. Larkin’s work frames infrastructure, as I read him, in the duration of constant breakdown: the power supply going out, the grid collapsing. Peterson links the destruction of infrastructure in West Africa due to the structural adjustment and austerity regimes imposed by global banks to the new replacement, temporary infrastructure provided by corporations like Halliburton that enable drug distribution under current humanitarian internationalism.

And here, its ubiquity brought into the the newspapers through a scandal, we have infrastructure within the duration of the rental form: the lease.

So at the outset, the very emerging terminology of infrastructure as that which is leased to the state, and as a corollary of the state as that entity constituted through the sequential payment of rent on the “value-added” development/privatization of its own [public] capacities, territories, and populations to corporations, is to me extraordinary. But of course, none of this is literally extraordinary.

Let me look briefly at the website:

Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) is one of India’s leading infrastructure development and finance companies. IL&FS was promoted by the Central Bank of India (CBI), Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (HDFC) and Unit Trust of India (UTI). Over the years, IL&FS has broad-based its shareholding and inducted Institutional shareholders including State Bank of India, Life Insurance Corporation of India, ORIX Corporation – Japan and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.   IL&FS has a distinct mandate — catalysing the development of infrastructure in the country.  The organisation has focussed on the commercialisation and development of infrastructure projects and creation of value added financial services. From concept to execution, IL&FS houses the expertise to provide the complete array of services necessary for successful project completion: visioning, documentation, finance, development, management, technology and execution.

The focus here, within the duality of the promise of “value-added” profits and the fulfilling of a developmental “mandate,” is on “successful project completion”: on efficacy.

Organisationally, the IL&FS Group has evolved along routes perfectly configured to business requirements. Technical support and service groups provide specialised expertise. Project development and sectoral companies house the ability to seed initiatives and carry them through to completion. Strong core skills – key to successful project development and project financing across sectors – have been developed within the Group. These have aided IL&FS in spreading its expertise across a variety of sectors, nationwide.

The biological language–perfect evolution and viral spread–is perhaps notable.

The rest of the site directs one to myriad IL&FS projects. We–well, I–still understand far too little. And the relation of infrastructure leasing to Aadhaar has yet to be spelled out.

“Aadhaar Fraud”: a case study in Hyderabad

After a hiatus, the Aadhaar project is back. I’ll try to keep the posts short, 15 minute efforts, and in keeping with the idea behind the blog: brief engagements with the question of the duplicate and the forms of political engagement produced as the citizen is replaced by the registrant, across a series of sites. Please see my early posts to see the project as it unfolds.

Hyderabad, the standard view

Aadhaar and UID are premised on a claim termed de-duplication: the elimination of fraud, inefficiency, and corruption in the relation of the state both to individuals and the “nexus” of the powerful. Aadhaar’s claim rests on it not just being yet another source for “duplicate” identity: so questions of Aadhaar fraud strike more powerfully at the rationale of the entire program than similar allegations of fraud elsewhere.What may be key to observe is not the incidence of such fraud, unsurprising given the financial stakes being tied to UID, but its governance: its publicity, forensics, and the forms of institutional reorganization that such cases do or do not set in motion.

Here is one such case, from the Times of India news network, June 17, 2012.The author is Mahesh Buddi.

HYDERABAD: Seven persons, including four Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) employees and a ration shop dealer, have been booked by the police in the Aadhaar card fraud.

Police have named Shaik Afsar, a former data entry operator of IL&FS from Talabkatta, as the prime accused. He was assisted in committing the fraud by Shabbir, technical co-ordinator, and Imran, supervisor of the Aadhaar card registration project by IL&FS in Old City.

Police zeroed in on Afsar after UIDAI confirmed that all the authorization fingerprints used for the enrollment of the 60 persons in biometric exception category were his. Afsar, who used to work as a data entry operator with IL&FS, had quit the job in August 2011.

Subsequently, he was approached by Gopal, a ration shop dealer (shop number 256) of Talabkatta, who sought new Aadhaar cards in the names given by him. Afsar, who had already quit his job, took the help of an Aadhaar card broker Rafiq and lured Shabbir and Imran to lend him an authorised laptop (No: 20193 – Baba Nagar enrollment office) used by IL&FS to do Aadhaar registrations for a few days.

Using the laptop, Afsar had done 60 fake entries under the physically disabled category between October 14 and 29, 2011. Police found that Gopal had asked for only 13 Aadhaar cards on specific names so that he could continue to utilise the set of fake ration cards available with him even after government makes Aadhaar mandatory for drawing essential items at ration shops. Gopal had paid Afsar Rs 4,000 for the job.

Police are yet to ascertain on whose request and for what purpose Afsar had done the rest of the fake registrations. After the probe, the investigating officers have named two top IL&FS officials, Yashwant and Vinay, as accused for knowingly ignoring the fraud.

Police have seized the laptop and took some of the accused into custody. However, prime accused Afsar has gone to Oman in March 2012 for employment and police are planning to issue a red corner notice against him. “So far, UIDAI has given details of enrollment related to 60 cards and we have finished the probe in that regard. As 30,000 more such registrations are there, the list of accused might increase and we will do further probe once UIDAI gives us details,” a Charminar police officer said.

So, three quick points:

1) Governance: The “police” and “UIDAI” here are seen to work in tandem as the forensic apparatus. Who, and how, exactly? Much to learn. The police are represented at the local level (the Charminar, old city station): where and how UIDAI operates and at what level of scale is unclear. The other major player here is the subcontracted private corporation that was functioning as a Registrar for persons to receive the card in Hyderabad, IL&FS. Several officials of the latter are accused of knowing of the violation and not acting.What is striking in the reportage are the details: we are told which laptop was used and which ration shop was involved, in case case being offered the exact number of the registered (computer, shop) item. This intrigues me.

2) Networks: This illegal operation would extend pre-existing forms of duplication in the ration card business to the new Aadhaar card: a local shopkeeper appears to be trying to extend his ability to game the system by building on local networks linking the skills of data entry and data access; the machines that serve as portals into the system; and the varied outsourcers (here IL&FS) that drive the actual creation of data. These networks are specific to Hyderabad, and at least two senses of scale and of relation are offered: the dense, scaled-down, local, and here largely Muslim world of the old city; and the transnational movement of labor and forensic claims that link Hyderabad to Oman and the Gulf states more generally.

3) Number: It is not clear what the scale of the violation is. We are given a possible number of 60. But an upper limit of 30000 suggests that the trouble with Aadhaar may be far more widespread. We are left with little ability to work between the numbers.

UID and Bangladeshi migrants: Worries from an Assam newspaper

If the focus, in the efforts to enroll (and resist enrollment) of hijras, kinnars, and other transgender identified and labelled persons, has been on NGOs tying up with corporate outsourced agencies, in the case of Assam the model appears in this brief English-language news article in the Sentinal to be a more state-centered and planned-development approach. The question of the Bangladeshi migrant saturates Assamese media.

Anti-Bangladeshi migrant student meeting, Assam

The article in question was posted a year ago, January 13, 2011.

UID work to start in Assam

GUWAHATI, Jan 13: The exercise of giving unique identification number (UID) to Indian citizens in Assam is about to start. The UID work is going on in some States of the country.

The task of providing UID for the people of Assam has been assigned to the State home and political department. The department has decided to carry out the work in five districts – Sonitpur, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia – in the first phase.

Under the home and political department, the Panchayat and Rural Development Department will do the UID work in Sonitpur, Sivasagar and Tinsukia districts, and the Food and Civil Supplies Department in Jorhat and Dibrugarh districts.

The first-phase UID exercise is supposed to be completed by March 31, 2011.

After allotment of the UID, one will get a card called Multi-Purpose National Identity Card.

Though the Centre has directed the State Government to complete the UID work by March 31, there are no clear-cut instructions on how to avoid giving UID to a foreigner in the State where various organizations have for decades been campaigning against influx of Bangladeshis. The State Government is also facing a lot of problems in going ahead with the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Sources said, “It will be interesting to see whether the State Government can complete the UID exercise within March 31 because many officers of various  departments have already been engaged to perform Assembly election-related  duties.”

3 comments:

1) The “task” of Aadhaar “has been assigned” to the “state home and political department.” What process of assigning—by whom (UIDAI?), how—produces Aadhaar in Assam, here less of the deleriously promissary end-of-poverty-and-corruption story than a “task,” almost a burden, one that must be achieved through phases in select districts, rationalized surely if begrudgingly (?),  not the entrepreneurial boosterism of the NGO (like Humsafar) bringing forward its target population (in that case, transgenders/hijras) to be counted and (we hope) saved. More broadly, what distribution of the statist-developmental and the neoliberal-entrepreneurial organizes Aadhaar nationally? How are such distributions organized, contested, and lived?

2) If the dominant concern of Aadhaar at the Centre is the duplicate, and the need to de-duplicate in order to assign a “universal” ID, here on the border the dominant concern is the migrant who passes: the Bangladeshi. Passing is a related form of the Duplicate, the 420 [the part of the Indian Penal Code historically concerned with illegal duplication, that is con artistry, to use the American idiom], but at stake is not the singular multiplying citizen but the mass of multiplying non-citizens. The UID becomes a threatening means to regularize the illegal: the state UID apparatus seems to acknowledge in advance it has no sure way before the originary gift of identification to differentiate the true from the doubled citizen.

3) And it seems the cadres of the state have all been assigned to elections, their primary raison d’être. So no one is there to count: a different kind of ‘manpower crunch.’

Intervention and penumbra 1: the Humsafar Trust/Wipro TG/Hijra UID Aadhaar camp

As promised, this week’s posts focus on questions of transgender enrollment in UIDAI.

The first text I want to consider is a thread posted on the Gay Bombay listserve (http://www.mail-archive.com/gay_bombay@yahoogroups.com/) and accompanying website archive. For what it is worth, several of the people posting and commenting are good friends, friends of friends, or long-time acquaintances.

The thread begins with a post contributed by Vivek (Vicky) Anand, who is the head of the well-known organization the Humsafar Trust (hereafter HST), based in Mumbai (Bombay) in the suburban neighborhood of Vakola: his position on the Trust’s blog as well as this post is listed as CEO.

By “intervention” I mean in this case the effort by HST to provide the means for “the TG/hijra community in the city” to be registered for Aadhaar UID cards, through this NGO’s collaboration with one of the private corporate entities (Wipro) delegated by UIDFAI to register “residents.”

By “penumbra” I mean simply the conversations and artifacts that build up around and in the wake of this intervention, such as this thread, and that extend the force of the intervention itself. I draw the term from legal usages of penumbra as the “outer boundary of authority.”

Here is the first post: tomorrow I will discuss some of the responses on the thread.

3 things to note: (1) though the registrar (here Wipro) gives potential registrants a large list of possible documents to establish both POA (proof of address) and POI (proof of identity), it is not clear to me at this point how easy it is to establish either, but especially POA, without a formal and legal relation to property. Perhaps my concern is unfounded. (2) Note the (ubiquitous, in India) language of the intervention as being a “camp.” I have been working for some time on both the genealogy of the health camp and its varied functions and effects. Camps often imply (1) mobile, (2) temporary or seasonal, and (3) charitable or otherwise patronizing (literally, not necessarily pejoratively) interventions. Interesting that here the link between the NGO, the corporate outsourcer, and the state [through UIDAI but also HST’s close and carefully nurtured relations to the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai] is manifest as such a camp. (3) The DIC [drop-in centre] offers a range of services, ranging from a “safe space” for socializing and networking to clinical services, counseling, AIDS prevention information, a library, and social and educational events. Much of these are linked to what in a somewhat different context the anthropologist and physician Vinh-Kim Nguyen has termed therapeutic citizenship. So worth thinking about that the UID emerges as part of this assemblage of therapeutic citizenship.

Humsafar drop-in centre clinic

g_b UID Adhaar Cards for LGBT community: The Humsafar Trust (Mumbai ):

Vivek R Anand
Mon, 12 Sep 2011 10:29:05 -0700

Dear All

The Humsafar Trust has contacted Wipro td. which is one of the 
enrolment agency for the UID cards (Aadhaar). We are happy to 
announce that they have set up a camp in The Humsafar Trust Vakola
to facilitate the process of issuing UID cards to the TG/Hijra 
community in the city. We kickstarted the process of TG/Hijra 
enrolment today in the Vakola DIC.  Document requirements are one 
Proof of identity (POI) and one Proof of Address (POA). (*Detailed 
list provided at the end)*  We also invite the Lesbian, Gay, 
Bisexual and Intersex communities to avail this facility in Mumbai.
Please take prior appointment from *Mr. Javed (9619058909)* and 
*Amit Jakhal (9222748196)* so as to efficiently co-ordinate the 
same. The timings are 12 noon to 6.30 pm. The camp will be in the 
Vakola DIC [drop-in centre] for at least 1 week.

*PROOF OF ADDRESS (Any One original is required at the time of 
enrolment)*

*1. Passport*

*2. Bank Statement/ Passbook*

*3. Post Office Account Statement/Passbook*

*4. Ration Card*

*5. Voter ID*

*6. Driving License*

*7. Government Photo ID cards*

*8. Electricity Bill (not older than 3 months)*

*9. Water bill (not older than 3 months)*

*10. Telephone Landline Bill (not older than 3 months)*

*11. Property Tax Receipt (not older than 3 months)*

*12. Credit Card Statement (not older than 3 months)*

*13. Insurance Policy*

*14. Signed Letter having Photo from Bank on letterhead*

*15. Signed Letter having Photo issued by registered Company on 
letterhead*

*16. Signed Letter having Photo issued by Recognized Educational 
Instruction on letterhead*

*17. NREGS Job Card*

*18. Arms License*

*19. Pensioner Card*

*20. Freedom Fighter Card*

* **PROOF OF  IDENTITY (Any One original is required at the time of

enrolment)*

*1. Passport*

*2. PAN (Permanent Account Number) Card*

*3. Ration/ PDS Photo Card*

*4. Voter Identity (ID)*

*5. Driving License*

*6. Government Photo ID Cards*

*7. NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) Job Card*

*8. Photo ID issued by Recognized Educational Institution*

*9. Arms License*

*10. Photo Bank ATM (Automated Teller Machine) Card*

*11. Photo Credit Card*

*12. Pensioner Photo Card*

*13. Freedom Fighter Photo Card*

*14. Kissan Photo Passbook*

*15. Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) / Ex-Servicemen    
Contributory Health*

*Scheme (ECHS) Photo Card*

*16. Address Card having Name and Photo issued by Department of 
Posts*

*17. Certificate of Identify having photo issued by Group A 
Gazetted Officer on letterhead*

best
Vivek Anand
CEO
The Humsafar Trust