India's Big Brother: Fingerprint and Eye Scans Required for Food and Medicine

India collects biometric data on 1.3 billion residents for use in a nationwide identity system called Aadhaar.

The New York Times notes Big Brother has Arrived in India.

Seeking to build an identification system of unprecedented scope, India is scanning the fingerprints, eyes and faces of its 1.3 billion residents and connecting the data to everything from welfare benefits to mobile phones.

Civil libertarians are horrified, viewing the program, called Aadhaar, as Orwell’s Big Brother brought to life. To the government, it’s more like “big brother,” a term of endearment used by many Indians to address a stranger when asking for help.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other champions of the program say that Aadhaar is India’s ticket to the future, a universal, easy-to-use ID that will reduce this country’s endemic corruption and help bring even the most illiterate into the digital age.

The poor must scan their fingerprints at the ration shop to get their government allocations of rice. Retirees must do the same to get their pensions. Middle-school students cannot enter the water department’s annual painting contest until they submit their identification.

The Modi government has also ordered Indians to link their IDs to their cellphone and bank accounts.

Although the system’s core fingerprint, iris and face database appears to have remained secure, at least 210 government websites have leaked other personal data — such as name, birth date, address, parents’ names, bank account number and Aadhaar number — for millions of Indians. Some of that data is still available with a simple Google search.

As Aadhaar has become mandatory for government benefits, parts of rural India have struggled with the internet connections necessary to make Aadhaar work. After a lifetime of manual labor, many Indians also have no readable prints, making authentication difficult. One recent study found that 20 percent of the households in Jharkand state had failed to get their food rations under Aadhaar-based verification — five times the failure rate of ration cards.

Does anyone see this system as a benefit for the people?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Exactly! This has much more misuse potential then good. Most corruption is in the government. If anything WE should start making politicians do it, along with all there unelect types as well.

Before this system, efficiency rate of welfare pecuniary and non pecuniary was 6%. I repeat 6%. You can imagine where the 94% goes. Under this system the aim is to pay directly into bank accounts and close down the inefficient special price govt distribution shops and allow the receipients to choose and shop for foodstuff where the rest go. De-monetisation had similar aims but corrupt bankers money laundered the good notes disproportionately for their connected friends. That's another saga of corruption. Modi has no personal riches or scandals. After nearly 4 years personal scandals would be out by now.

I am an American who has spent extensive time in India since 1974.. Several years ago I had to acquire a "PAN" card in order to not pay income tax on interest income because I am over 60. Last year (2017) I wanted to open a new bank account and was told that I could not do this without obtaining an Aadhaar Card. I had no idea what it was. I looked at the Aadharr website and found that with my current bank account and the PAN card, I was eligible to get the Aadhaar Card. I went to the local computer shop where the application process was performed, finger prints digitally, eye prints digitally, facial, the PAN Card, bank passbook, passport (US), paid 500 Rupees prrocessing fee, and within 10 days the Aadhaar was issued, I downloaded it from the website, and have found things in India are much easier and faster, what to speak of being able to enter national parks and so forth and pay the Indian price for entry instead of hte foreign tourist rates. As far as I have seen, pretty much every one in India has this card now.


Here in the USA we are too advanced for such a primitive system. We will have chips in our hands and with merely a wave of the hand will get our government benefits. We are not concerned that such a chip will allow a dictator total control over everyone. George Orwell on steroids, here we come.

Oh hey, I have a great idea...

Stop taking money from those who earned it and giving it to those who didn't - then you wouldn't have to worry about the corruption inherent in welfare systems.

At that point, those of us who wished to support charitable causes would do do. Unlike now where many of us refuse to do so because we pay so much in taxes. You want my money? Go see my uncle - he takes more than 1/3 of what I make every time I get paid.

At this point, "charity" gets my used clothes, furniture, and appliances and such every year because I can deduct their value and get a tiny bit of my own money back. Here soon I expect that to be all but eliminated and as a result, charity will get nothing further from me.


"Although the system’s core fingerprint, iris and face database appears to have remained secure..." And what are the odds this database will remain uncompromised for another 5 years? How about 25 years?

‘Does anyone see this system as a benefit for the people?" It is not meant as a benefit to the people.’

Neither is gun control.

And neither is government itself. Governments institute these kinds of programs for the benefits of government and those in it and/or closely connected to it. Not for the designated lackeys referred to as “the people,” which the former universally exist solely to prey on.

The crazies from the other side of the Kashmiri border, while perhaps hardly all that either, can’t come rescue these saps from Modiism soon enough. Those guys, for all their ills, at least have enough of an affection for the Second, to retain a de facto veto on being registered, corralled, harassed and otherwise mindlessly enslaved "for their own good."

The holier-than-thou brahmins are running rough-shod over the lower castes as usual.


The US has a DNA database of every citizen from the baby heel blood prick they are required to send to the govt.