Public Administration Mains 2018 : Model Question and Answer - 66

(Public Administration Paper II / Chapter: Significant Issues in Indian Administration)

(Current Based) Question: A trustworthy UID project makes India a leader in digital innovation. Comment. (15 Marks/250 Words )

Model Answer:

The Aadhaar breach story is much larger than whistleblowing and politics. It is also, sadly, not new. Security concerns have dogged the system. Instead of pulling up the drawbridges and retreating into a defensive crouch, the guardians of Aadhaar may find it enlightening to get with the times: The next wave of digital innovations will be in winning the consumers’ digital trust, without sacrificing benefits. If done right, this would be an opportunity to add to India’s slender list of digital innovations.

To be fair, the guardians of Aadhaar have proposed many positive changes — issuing virtual IDs, limiting KYC rules, eliminating the need for agencies to store biometric ID and limiting the number of agencies that can access and store Aadhaar data. However, the country needs more systematic and systemic policy innovations in enhancing data privacy, security and believability.

The Modi administration should abandon its natural tendency for heavy-handedness in tying Aadhaar to multiple services. The UIDAI can be less prickly and more proactive. The courts need to make judgements with a keen awareness that much of digital trust-building is still uncharted territory.

India’s unique ID is a unique opportunity. Aadhaar has inspired other countries — 20 countries have shown interest in studying it. India could lead the world, if it gets this right. If not, then India’s two meaningful contributions to the digital age would collapse into a single one. Aadhaar could end up becoming just a big zero. (Total Words- 239)

Valuable inputs from The Indian Express ‘The Aadhaar opportunity’ by Bhaskar Chakravorti

(Linkages: Trustworthy Aadhaar and Digital Innovation, Aadhaar and Data Privacy, Aadhaar and Digital Trust)

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