Let’s Make a Citizen Out of You: The Rise of Biometric Identification in India

Source: Ruth Fremson, New York Times

In many developing countries, lack of documentation can be a major obstacle for people who want to claim their rights to citizenship. India, in particular, has as many as 400 million people unaccounted for.

In the book Paper Citizens, Kamal Sadiq explores India’s over-dependence on documentary citizenship and the difficulties created for the government to distinguish between who is a legal citizen and who is not. The current national identification card (NID) leads to problems such as “blurred citizenship” where many natural-born citizens (unable to receive government benefits without NIDs) resort to fake documentation in order to receive benefits such as access to government welfare programs, the ability to open a bank account or enroll in school, and protection from wrongful deportation from their homes. Continue reading