In Dream Valley, the poor have many homes: duplication and tuberculosis in real time

A brief comment today riffing off of a set of lectures and seminars given by sociologist and anthropologist Veena Das at Berkeley a few weeks ago. Das and many colleagues have long worked in several slum areas in Greater Noida, an extensive area of urban development including large tracts of slum housing far to the southeast of the older urban core of Delhi.

A different kind of Greater Noida address

This work has long troubled the sufficiency of figures of “the poor” and “the slum” and their presumptive “everyday” reality, through long-term weekly and monthly inquiry by a team trained by Das into well-being and illness, income and expenditure, relations to politicians, brokers, bureaucrats, healers, and much more. Through “amplificatory techniques,” these weekly and monthly engagements have produced a dense and complex record challenging the adequacy of much urban slum ethnography that all too moves quickly from (1) single case studies, in or across widely separated moments in time, to (2) generalized accounts of “the poor,” of conditions and of processes in the slum. What Das has argued is needed is a very different form of research.

One of my concerns in this emerging project has been “duplication-from-below.” UID/Aadhaar is premised on ending “leakage,” regularizing and rationalizing state (and increasingly privatized) development and basic entitlements enabling life with an (allegedly) incorruptible ID card that uses biometrics and big data to eradicate all “duplicates” — that is, to end cheating with duplicate IDs. Duplication-from-above is the diversion of entitlements by a powerful “nexus” (usually named as politicians, parties, land mafia) that creates a phantom population in order to siphon benefits on a massive scale. Its opposite in formal terms is a duplication-from-below by which less empowered people get by with multiple (“duplicate”) ration cards, false (“duplicate”) addresses, and so forth.

De-duplication, the new order of information promised under Aadhaar/UID, is of course premised on ending both. If the new order threatens livability by depriving more marginal persons of the tactical resources of duplication, the benefit will be the legitimate flow of currently throttled entitlements and greater wealth and health for all. Or so the promise of the card is framed.

One could look at life in the areas studied by Das, her colleagues, and their research team as intensely “duplicated-from-below.” But the rigor of the amplificatory method they employ has allowed them to place what I term duplication in real time, as it were.

Let me give an example of duplication, from a paper by Das, and how it might conventionally be read. Then let me apply the discussion she offered during her Berkeley visit to rethink the problem of the duplicate in time.

Hospitalization through duplication

The example comes from an essay entitled “TB and Urban Poverty: An Essay Critical and Clinical” that can be found on the web. It centers on Meena, “a resident of a cluster of jhuggis (shanties) in the industrial area of Noida.” The cluster or slums is specific in several ways: (1) Waves of settlement: “The residents of the jhuggi settlement in our sample had arrived in waves – the earliest settlement can be traced to forty five years ago. Subsequent movements have followed networks of kinship and village affiliations.” (2) Complexity of the multiple norms structuring informal rights in land: “The settlement is an unrecognized colony which means that the residents do not have a legal right to the land but complicated customary norms have evolved here as in many other slums of this kind, so that people have ‘bought’ land and built jhuggis on this land.” I will return to this complexity as a particular condition of duplication: given the lack of a formal norm of occupation of land, provisional and contested norms proliferate. (3) Eviction stay, election cycles, and perennial hopes of formalization of rights in land: “The residents have also registered themselves as a scheduled caste association … [which] has enabled them to obtain a stay order … [forbidding] the government to take over their land unless alternate housing is provided to them. The government policy on this issue has vacillated over time but with each election, as residents are courted by candidates, they become hopeful of getting rights to pakka (i.e. built with bricks and cement) housing in a ‘recognized’ colony.”

Some initial context is offered on Meena: (1) Household: she lived “with her husband, two young sons and the husband’s father.” (2) Family tensions: “Her two sisters were married to the two brothers of her husband but relations between them were fraught with conflict.” (3) Employment and income:  “Meena’s husband and his father were both employed by a contractor in the U.P Water supply department as cleaners. Thus they had a stable but meager income throughout the period of our study which meant that small amounts of cash were available to the family, though this cash was never adequate for the many demands ranging from food, providing school supplies for the children, as well as money spent on alcohol and tobacco by Meena’s husband.” (4) Clinical expenditure: “there were regular expenditures incurred on medications, especially as the younger son suffered from a respiratory ailment.”

The fieldworkers’ account of Meena’s TB shifts. Initially in 2000, “Meena had reported that her first episode of TB occurred three to four years ago. At that time she said that she took medications for a long time – perhaps seven months, perhaps one year.” But later “she said to one of the fieldworkers that she had TB for the last eight years which had ‘never been cured.’ She described a complicated story in which first, she talked about a breast abscess after her child’s birth, a minor surgery as well as fever, cough and weakness.” The earlier period of TB occurred when she was still in the village. Meena took medication until she became asymptomatic or even remaining weak given the lack of money. After she went to a local BAMS [Ayurvedic Medicine] practitioner who gave her antibiotics, analgesics, and other medicines. Her need to get well was intensified by the fear that her husband was seeing another woman.

Their relation worsened, as did Meena’s health: her husband did not have enough money to get her admitted to a local private hospital but her cousin got her admitted to a government hospital at some distance “under another name in that hospital on the pretext that she was his dependent relative.” She stayed there 6 months. The research team could not find her for some time as her name had been changed: one of her sons also worried that his mother had died. When she returned home, “the hospital discharged her with instructions to complete the course of medications. She was required to go the hospital OPD to receive medication but her husband managed to get her name transferred to another DOTS center nearer their home.”

Meena’s health improved for two years. Her symptoms then worsened and the researchers took her to a clinic they knew at some distance again from the slum: the doctor there confided that he did not see much therapeutic benefit given likely MDR-TB [multi-drug resistant TB]. Again the distance was hard for Meena’s husband, he “did not want her to be admitted to a hospital so far away from home so they went to another DOTS center by providing a false address. Here again she was dispensed the anti TB regimen under the DOTS protocol but reported serious side effects such as continuous nausea. Her condition continued to worsen, so she stopped taking medications. She died in a private nursing home in December 2003 where she was rushed in the last two days of her life. The family at the end of her life was in debt to the order of several thousand rupees.”

Das’ essay uses Meena’s story to challenge the dominant account of much of the public health and anthropological literature: that stigmakeeps people from returning to clinics and adhering to an adequate course of anti-TB treatment. Rather: “what seems to emerge from the story, instead, is consistent institutional neglect and incoherence. This neglect exists in conjunction with the care and neglect built into Meena’s domestic relations. In the course of three and a half years, Meena took three rounds of TB medication, all under the protocols of TB management in DOTS centers. There was no consistent record of her illness with any of the practitioners. When she was admitted to hospital, she took an assumed name and did not show her previous medical records but even when she used her own name there was no attempt on the part of the DOTS center to ascertain her medical history. In each episode of the disease she completed the course of medications, and was declared to be sputum negative and thus ‘cured.'”

Das suggests that the particular practice used by Meena’s husband to get her into a DOTS program or treatment center closer to home, what I am terming in relation to the language of UID as “duplication,” is also not enough to explain why clinics never treated her in relation to her previous medical history.

Still, a pattern emerges: care from the wage-earning husband is inconstant and Meena depends both on him but on others (her relations, social welfare agencies [here the research team] who use their own connections to get her seen far from home. At some point when her husband becomes involved in her care he moves her back closer to home. These moves may involve a “duplicate” name or address change. Whether or not the care network resorts to duplication, the clinic seldom attends to Meena’s past history of TB in prescribing.

Duplication as access to care?

Duplication-from-below emerges here as a resource–for the relative who moves Meena to a government hospital and for her husband who on two occasions moves her care closer to home.

But Das and colleagues show that whether or not the care network “duplicates” Meena’s identity to get her admitted, her de-duplicated medical file is not utilized.

The context, in which the Government of India’s failure to organize effective DOTS treatment for drug resistant TB has led to calls for UID to be used to deterritorialize TB care and create incentives and demands for de-duplicated patient identity, is critical: in theory, allowing for the mobility of the patient file through UID/Aadhaar could lead to Meena’s information following her clinical trajectory. But the very structures of diagnosis and assessment have produced a body of knowledge which asserts that practitioners, most with substandard or nonexistent training, do not need such long-term mobile knowledge to treat people like Meena.

UID promises de-duplication, deterritorialization, and thus better care. The shifting availability of care from husband/husband’s family and her own family/outsider welfare have demanded that various persons in Meena’s world duplicate her in order to deterritorialize her care. And at some level, heretofore Meena’s duplication or de-duplication does not seem to change the quality of care as the clinic, despite the prevalence of MDR-TB, continues to treat each episode as a singularity.

Will a new demand for Aadhaar that makes duplication-from-below more challenging change the situation in terms of clinical norms of treatment?  The sense one gets from this paper is pessimistic.

The accusation of address

Finally, Das at her Berkeley talks made a point that echoed one with which I began discussing this paper. The complex conditions under which slum residents may make some kind of normative claims on state or corporate or NGO programs lead to the multiplication of addresses. Programs often mandate audits of the informal slum and may find previous systems of house-numbering to be inadequate or untrustworthy.  Numbering systems proliferate. Das described a given slum area that had some 4 or 5 parallel numbering systems each created by a specific agency of slum governance or welfare.

Subject to accusation and continual re-territorialization

At stake in the duplication, that is, may be an intensification of the accusation of untrustworthiness. Slum-dwellers are accused of cheating, of duplication, and are assigned new numbers, a presumptive de-duplication. But each effort to de-duplicate only intensifies the condition of duplication and the accusation.

Killer App: UID, Public Health Defaulters, and the Smartphone Theory of the State

Continuing on the theme of UID as public health tool, today I want to look briefly at a Working Paper on that topic available on the official UIDAI website. The paper makes a case for UID as enabling the expansion of varied welfare schemes using the metaphor of a smart phone.

Choose your metaphor, then…

I am particularly interested in the question of mobility, given the use of UID to address adherence failure due to mobility and migration.  And though I am cautious about overly relying on the logic of the metaphor, the conception of the state as a mobile smartphone is a productive one to work through.

Acknowledgements: I am grateful to Ian Harper and Bharat Venkat, both anthropologists and formidable scholars of TB treatment regimes, for comments they sent me on TB. Ian has critically studied and worked on DOTS [directly observed therapy] programs in Nepal and worldwide for many years; Bharat works in Chennai in a site critical for the formation of what would eventually become DOTS. And earlier comments and contributions by Jerome Whitington, Maria Ekstrand, Ashveer Singh, and Tulasi Srinivas addressed some of the issues at stake here.

The Excluded and the Defaulters: Ian points out: “the ‘migrant labourer’ and the issue of movement has been a particular problem with the DOTS programme from the start, and research in Delhi indicated that unless a patient could prove that they had a ‘permanent’ address, (even with staff visiting their address site to verify that they were there), then they could be denied treatment from the off through the public system… If started, then when they move, and given the lack of follow-up capacity in the government system, then they become categorised as ‘defaulters.’ High numbers of such ‘defaulters’ is one way through which programmes are evaluated by the WHO and described as poorly performing.”

Proof of permanent residency in the Delhi example Ian mentions becomes the basis for triage: a specific guarantee of territory, to continue the conceptual language of the preceding posts, is necessary for inclusion in the state’s pharmaceuticalization. If that guarantee may presume identification papers, it can extend as Ian suggests to a physical audit of their claims to proper residence. Improper or absent claims presumptively lead to abandonment. (These terms, developed by Joao Biehl, have generated intensive and productive debate). Types of claims on territory are used as proxies for knowledge of future patient mobility.

The flip side of the territorially excluded are the “defaulters” and here the audit at stake is not that of the state/corporate/multilateral organization/NGO apparatus of drug delivery auditing the prospective drug recipient but rather that of the multilateral organization (here WHO) assessing India and finding it wanting.

If the diagnosis offered in the Lancet cited in yesterday’s post framed the locus of failure at the nation state and its deficit of political will and regulatory capacity, here we see that the very privileged position of the European auditor (whether the medical journal of record or the WHO) is part of the feedback loop that leads the state TB administration to weed out the inadequately territorialized from the outset in order to improve its audits.

In such a context, UID makes a promise of transforming the reckoning of “adequate territorialization.” As will all such UID/Aadhaar promises, I want methodologically to avoid the hermeneutic of intense suspicion I and others are often drawn to produce. If I ended yesterday’s post with the suggestion that UID only addresses the minority of persons with MDR-TB [multi-drug resistant tuberculosis], one could argue that the point of the registration of the TB patient under UID will be to transform the ecology of multilateral audit and the logic of what I have called the feedback loop, leading to fewer disincentives against the exclusion of improperly territorialized persons diagnosed with MDR-TB (sorry for the quadruple negative in that last sentence, these blog posts are quick and dirty productions). In other words, if UID transforms the defaulter into an acceptably mobile drug recipient it might allow as well for the formerly abandoned to be included within the pharmaceuticalization regime.

Inclusion/abandonment: All this is speculation on my part at the level of the document or press report, at this point. But beyond TB, it points to tensions across the board in the imposition of UID that are framed in this binary of inclusion and abandonment: of elderly pensioners to be included in UID or whose fingerprints fail to register and whose motives are distrusted; of the Bangladeshi migrant who is to be more effectively surveyed as a Resident under UID or whose threat to the citizenship that differentiates Assam from the Bangladeshi prevents this inclusion and leads in due course to the entire state of Assam being temporally excluded from the UID program; and of transgender women whose community leaders have fought for inclusion under the census and other institutions of state identification but are divided and arguably deeply ambivalent about the value of inclusion under the surveillance of Aadhaar.

I am not satisfied with the conceptual payoff of this binary, but will let it stand for now.

Okay, why the smartphone?

I briefly cite the working paper I mentioned at the outset. It is symptomatic of all of the promise and confusion surrounding Aadhaar; as I pointed out much earlier on this blog, UIDAI officials seem as confused as anyone else about what UID is, does, and implicates. Here I break the document up into themes (ignore for now the many acronyms for particular state bureaucracies and entitlement schemes):

The unique and non-duplicated: “The Unique Identification (UID) project is a historic venture that seeks to provide a unique registration code to every Indian citizen. We surmise that the starting point would be to aggregate records from various population databases such as the census, the PDS system, voter identity systems, etc, while dealing with the challenge of duplication.”

The killer app as a figure of consumer/behavioral incentive: “Existing data bases would probably still leave a large percentage of the population uncovered. Therefore every citizen must have a strong incentive or a “killer application” to go and get herself a UID, which one could think of as a demand side pull. The demand pull for this needs to be created de novo or fostered on existing platforms by the respective ministries. Helping various ministries visualise key applications that leverage existing government entitlement schemes such as the NREGA and PDS will (1) get their buy-in into the project (2) help them roll out mechanisms that generate the demand pull and (3) can inform a flexible and future-proof design for the UID database. It will also build excitement and material support from the ministries for the UID project even as it gets off the ground.”

Public health will succeed if it can develop its own killer app: “Health, and health related development schemes could offer a killer application for the UID. After years of neglect, public health in India is seeing a revolution both in terms of (1) greater commitment towards government financing of public and primary healthcare (2) pressure to meet the MDG goals (3) consequent creation of large supply platforms at national levels such as the NRHM, RSBY and complementary state level initiatives such as the Rajiv Arogyasri insurance scheme in Andhra Pradesh. In health there is a cumulative historic gap both in terms of demand and supply. The UID could further help catalyse a revolution in India’s health outcomes.”

The participation of the new subject of UID (here termed a citizen by UIDAI, but as the official UIDAI website points out the subject of UID is a Resident and not a citizen: call this a constitutive confusion) is a matter of incentive, participation served by reforming governance as the promotion of self-interested participation in large-scale institutions, a broadly neoliberal figure for the condition of a scaled-up, arguably collective, social form. Jerome Whitington early on pointed me to Jim Ferguson’s very rewarding paper on this theme, “The Uses of Neoliberalism.”

Incentive is to be produced by each governmental agency. The new entitlement programs marking the last decade of Congress Party dominated rule, the extension of a prior development state electoral populism into a new form of state-corporate-NGO-multilateral governance, are here conceived of as killer apps for a generic platform, the UID.

Apps have become a powerful vehicle and metaphor. My Berkeley colleague Jim Holston is part of a collaboration thinking carefully about “social apps.”  Here I want to focus on the idea of a platform. What does it entail that UID is framed as a general platform for the “killer app”?

A real killer

Transgender demographics, counting backwardness, and UIDAI

This is the final post for now on contested campaigns to enrol hijra/kinnar/TG “Residents” into UID. Tomorrow I want to take up the contest over UID in a different context, the Indian Northeastern states (and thanks to Malini Sur for the suggestion pushing me to do so).

The article is again a dated one. The version I cite appeared on 6 November 2011, from the wire service PTI, and is entitled: Over 12,500 eunuchs get ‘Aadhaar.’

New Delhi: More than 12,500 transgenders across the country have been issued ‘Aadhaar’ numbers by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). “Aadhaar number is being issued to transgender. As on October 28, 2011, 12,548 of Aadhaar numbers are issued to the community,” the UIDAI said in reply to an RTI query. Besides, close to six crore [60 million] such numbers were issued to individuals within nearly three years since the inception of the authority. The UIDAI has launched the Aadhaar scheme in September last year with a mandate to issue every citizen a 12-digit unique identification number linked to the resident’s demographic and biometric information. People can use their Aadhaar numbers to identify themselves anywhere in India as well as to access a host of benefits and services. “There are 5,85,77,503 number issued,” the UIDAI said replying to the RTI application filed by PTI. However, it could not give year-wise details of Aadhaar numbers issued to eunuchs, as the authority has been facing a manpower crunch because nearly 50 per cent of its total sanctioned strength of 383 are lying vacant. “UIDAI is a new organisation. The process of filling up the posts was initiated in September 2009. 196 posts have been filled up so far,” it said. The UIDAI, which acts as an attached office of the Planning Commission, has issued over one crore Aadhaar numbers and envisages to issue 60 crore [600 million] such identity numbers by 2014. PTI
Three points:
1) In the context of 60 million Aadhaar numbers allegedly issued, 12 and a half thousand may appear quite small: indeed, some well-known queer activists have expressed concern in this regard [personal communication]. The article notes no breakdown was available year by year, presumably such data might have showed [or failed to show] rising enrollments. At stake in the numbers may be both a future-oriented sense of political clout (or lack thereof) and maintaining or increasing flows of NGO-mediated welfare support for community health including HIV/AIDS treatment. To what extent, echoing a concern Maria Ekstrand and Ashveer Singh have raised in comments to an earlier post, will health programs come to depend on UID enrollment?
2) The article noted a failure of UIDAI to produce a data breakdown as a manpower crunch. Half its positions appear as of this article to be “lying vacant.” The implication is not clear: is the UID authority inefficient or corrupt? Are there better jobs elsewhere, in IT? UID’s promise as the “end of corruption and inefficiency” in the version of this report appears to founder on corruption or inefficiency within its own body.
3) The article is shorn of commentary. Why is the number being reported? What mechanisms produced it? As we read further, one might ask: are such articles, reporting the progress of Aadhaar registration, a general feature of life in UID-India? Are places or communities with low enrollments taken as somehow “backward,” the latter a dense signifier in contemporary India? I cannot justify the reading yet, but I have a sense that an imputation of backwardness is somehow at stake here. This theme may be one to follow in the structure of debate on the Northeast.

Intervention and penumbra 2: the Humsafar Trust/Wipro TG/Hijra UID Aadhaar camp

Today I want to look at responses to Vivek Anand’s posting on the Gay Bombay listserve.

Several very active, important people in overlapping LGBT rights and AIDS prevention and treatment worlds wrote supportively of Humsafar Trust [HST]’s initiative. For example:

Excellent initiative, Congratulations.
Aditya B
This is an absolutely marvelous initiative Vivek and Pallav! The
TG community certainly needs to get Aadhaar numbers. From the
very beginning Nandan Nilekani's team of UIDAI has ensured that
the enrollment process of Aadhaar is INCLUSIVE. The demographic
data capture field for gender has three options MALE, FEMALE and
TRANSGENDER. You may want to get more information about Aadhaar
and how it will change the face of India on this link: <>

Aadhaar is the world's largest biometric data (iris scan, face
pic, fingerprint) capture project. UIDAI targets 1.2 billion
residents of India.


Deep’s posting is interesting, suggesting not only the powerful draw of state recognition (here legible as the technical code allowing a ‘data capture field for gender’ with ‘three options MALE, FEMALE and TRANSGENDER’) but also that this new form of recognition and inclusion is identified directly with the executive and efficient force of Nandan Nilekani himself.

More announcements from HST followed. The HST Advocacy Officer Gautam Yadav posted the following, which I only excerpt as it otherwise overlaps with CEO Vivek Anand’s letter.

Each TG/Hijra group in the city has been asked to mobilize their
populations to avail of this facility. In case identity documents
are incomplete the organisation can do the following. Provide: 

1) Letter from the organisation they are working with/accessing
services (respective NGO) with their photo for identity proof

2) Address proof of office( electric bill/ telephone bill/ leave
license agreement) as their address proof.

We have informed Sakhi Char Chowghi, Astitva, Ekta Foundation,
Darpan Foundation, Triveni Sangam , Kinnar Kastoori and Kinnar
Asmita to mobilise their communities to avail of this facility.

Of note, this posting directly addresses a similar concern to the one I raised yesterday: persons who cannot produce POI [Proof of Identity] documentation can instead be identified as a recipient of services from the ‘respective NGO’; and, if I understand the post correctly, the NGO’s POA [Proof of Address] can serve as proxy for the Resident’s.

Thus, very interestingly, ‘residency’ as a requirement for universal recognition by UIDAI has a proxy condition: NGO affiliation as a recipient of services.The NGO stands in for the formal residency that the ‘informalized’ urban slumdweller cannot produce. To use the contested terms of Partha Chatterjee, the NGO brokers the relation of political society (those lacking formal relations of legitimacy to labor and to land) to civil society (those formally recognizable as citizens).

Others were less optimistic: “cuteboy” writes

Gautamji... what good will this UID do ???

Deep responds again, this time with the by now familiar promise of UID. It is a lengthy posting, the length itself worth noting. The length and density, if heartfelt, seem to bludgeon cuteboy’s question…. What may also be worth noting is that the subject of this positive claim for UID is not a specifically gendered or transgendered subaltern but (I would argue) once again the generalized ‘common man’ I have encountered over the past week’s readings.

I am not suggesting that such a generalization is necessarily a problem: one could argue in contrast that Deep resists the pathologization or spectacularization of transgender life. But whereas in theory such a refusal to specify the benefits of UID for transgender, kinnar, or hijra persons and communities may resist a certain kind of interpellation, in practice I find myself wondering if critical questions are being neglected.

Deep’s first theme is access to state and private services through universal and trustworthy identification. Implicit, to the extent this is a response to the marginalization of transgender persons, is a claim that in being rendered both universal and trustworthy kinnars, hijras, and others will gain access to services.

Why Aadhaar? Aadhaar-based identification will have two unique
features: Universality, which is ensured because Aadhaar will
over time be recognised and accepted across the country and across
all service providers. Every resident's entitlement to the number.
The number will consequently form the basic, universal identity
infrastructure over which Registrars and Agencies across the 
country can build their identity-based applications. Unique 
Identification of India (UIDAI) will build partnerships with 
various Registrars across the country to enrol residents for the 
number. Such Registrars may include state governments, state 
Public Sector Units (PSUs), banks, telecom companies, etc. These 
Registrars may in turn partner with enrolling agencies to enrol 
residents into Aadhaar. Aadhaar will ensure increased trust 
between public and private agencies and residents. Once residents 
enrol for Aadhaar, service providers will no longer face the 
problem of performing repeated Know Your Customer (KYC) checks 
before providing services. They would no longer have 
to deny services to residents without identification documents. 
Residents would also  be spared the trouble of repeatedly proving
identity through documents each time they wish to access services 
such as obtaining a bank account, passport, or driving license 
etc. By providing a clear proof of identity, Aadhaar will empower 
poor and underprivileged residents in accessing services such as 
the formal banking system and give them the opportunity to easily 
avail various other services provided by the Government and the 
private sector. The centralised technology infrastructure of the 
UIDAI will enable 'anytime, anywhere, anyhow' authentication. 
Aadhaar will thus give migrants mobility of identity. Aadhaar 
authentication can be done both offline and online, online 
authentication through a cell phone or land line connection will 
allow residents to verify their identity remotely. Remotely, 
online Aadhaar-linked identity verification will give poor 
and rural residents the same flexibility that urban non-poor 
residents presently have in verifying their identity and 
accessing services such as banking and retail. Aadhaar will also 
demand proper verification prior to enrolment, while ensuring 
inclusion. Existing identity databases in India are fraught with
problems of fraud and duplicate or ghost beneficiaries. To prevent
these problems from seeping into the Aadhaar database, the UIDAI 
plans to enrol residents into its database with proper 
verification of their demographic and biometric information. This 
will ensure that the data collected is clean from the beginning of the 
program. However, much of the poor and under-privileged 
population lack identity documents and Aadhaar may be the first 
form of identification they will have access to. The UIDAI will 
ensure that its Know Your Resident (KYR) standards do not become a 
barrier for enrolling the poor and has accordingly developed an 
Introducer system for residents who lack documentation. Through 
this system, authorised individuals ('Introducers') who already 
have an Aadhaar, can introduce residents who don't have any 
identification documents, enabling them to receive their Aadhaar.
Deep goes on to add a lengthy discussion of micropayments, an extensive and well-formulated rationale for how Aadhaar will enable marginal economic actors (“the poor”) to be incorporated into the economy. I will not take up the economics of UID yet.
Before returning to the listserve and to what it includes and excludes, I would just note what else Deep’s posting offers: (1) terminology, positions, rationales: Introducers, KYR standards, KYC checks, the familiar problem of duplication (here described as a “seepage” into the Aadhaar database); (2) a flexible vision of “anytime, anywhere, anyhow authentication” that seems at the outset like an extraordinary mash-up of an ATM machine and a society of total control.

Deep’s was the last posting archived of this thread. Whereas both the formal media and the blogosphere are saturated with critiques of UIDAI, on Gay Bombay at this point one found primarily optimism and expertise. At the most basic, one could argue that Aadhaar was one of a series of recent and negotiated decisions between transgender and kinnar communities (and transgender in English and kinnar (किन्नर) in Hindi are increasingly replacing hijra in much state documentation and debate on the census, reservations in government and education, and UID) and the state, and that its power lies in the importance of recognition of transgender and kinnar persons and communities here as a third gender. But Deep’s posting focuses on the generalized opposition of the poor and the “non-poor,” under the new conditions of non-poor NGOs as Introducers of the poor.

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 ( 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 

*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 

*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


*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 

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

Vivek Anand
The Humsafar Trust