Interview with K.K. Soan, Deputy Commissioner of Ranchi
Duration: 00:15:15; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 164.739; Saturation: 0.135; Lightness: 0.271; Volume: 0.092; Cuts per Minute: 0.066; Words per Minute: 119.449
The Identity project emerged as a result of our dissatisfaction at the nature of the debate that was emerging on the area of digital governance in India.
Over the past three years we have conducted numerous field visits in seven Indian states.These visits include numerous video-conversations, some short and others very long, with a diverse number of those who were involved with this entire process of participating in the emergence of a digital ecosystem of governance. These are interviews with people being enrolled into the Aadhaar programme, with district-level Panchayat and other officials, with numerous State government bureaucrats, with private enrollment representatives, representatives of various governmental services, with operators and other members of this digital workforce. Conversations are often long, spontaneous and deliberately unstructured: and the focus is mainly on a vérité style using amateur video.
Some key issues that we shortlisted for detailed inquiry were issues of migrants, both domestic and across international borders, homelessness in cities, and the financially excluded. Each of these areas was discussed in considerable detail at major public consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, in partnership with the CSDS, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, and the Urban Research and Policy Programme Initiative of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. All videos of all presentations made at these events are also available here.
CSCS also has an extensive text archives of material on the field as a whole, available on http://eprints.cscsarchives.org
Interview with K K Soan, Deputy Commissioner of Ranchi in which he states that he would like to use the Aadhaar database for correcting election records (not clear how), integrate Aadhaar with the census to check if Aadhaar has been delivered to all census families and to track the Below Poverty Line (BPL) census. He also discusses the National Population Register (NPR) exercise that was being conducted in Jharkhand in March 2011. Overall, he sees Aadhaar as a means of counting individuals accurately which will allow for planning of government schemes and services. In effect, he is substituting the role of the census with Aadhaar. Mention is also made of Ranchi becoming an e-district under the National e-Governance Plan and the delivery of services through an electronic medium. One instance of this stands out – K K Soan proposed the use of technology in jails across the state to allow for video conferencing facilities to jail inmates so that relatives do not have to come in person!
If you visit the field and meet other senior officials you can experience the schemes, especially the rural development schemes have been tagged with this project. Earlier we did not have the (bank) accounts for our labourers. Now we have opened 100% (bank) accounts for labourers either in banks or in post offices.
Now they payments are taking place through the bank accounts. We have been able to get rid of the middle men and we have also tried our best to ensure payments at regular intervals. So now we are trying to integrate this programme with the UID. We are hopeful that we will be in a position to deliver improved quality services.
Secondly what we have experienced in the past 4-5 years especially during the elections. We have conducted two elections in two years. The voter turnout has been phenomenal. But still there are some loose ends especially with the photo identity cards etc. If we get the full data we will be in a position to use this data of the UID to correct the EPIC database.
Similarly, we have just completed our census. Now we have full data of each and every family member. We would like to integrate the UID data with the census. We can cross check whether we have issued this a particular UID to the families and households.
We would be in a position to crosscheck it with the census data whether all the people have been given UID or not. Similarly in the coming years when we go in for the BPL survey we will be in a position to track persons and their families on the basis of the UID data. It would be very helpful in the coming days.
INTERIEWER: What is the difference in the issuing of the UID number as opposed to say something like issuing a voter identity card? What is about the UID that makes it possible to reach out to so many more people?
Speaker: The issue of overlapping: since we are giving a unique number to a person then we would be in a position to control overlapping. What is happening in the EPIC and other databases is that we try our best but there is some lacuna. Sometimes we fail to check this overlapping. Once we complete this process if a person names is reflecting just once we will be in a position to provide services to other families. It would very helpful as far as checking overlapping is concerned.
INTERIEWER: Sir, you say that you want to integrate the UID database with the census database. How does that work? What will be the UID database that will be with the state at the end of the process? Will you have a list of all the Aadhaar numbers issued?
Speaker: Yes. In fact if we get the data of the UID since the process is going on, and similarly this process of census is also going on. The final report is likely to be issued after the completion of this calendar year. Now we are in the process of this UID.
If we get the information of a particular pocket. As far as UID is concerned there are 1000 families, then in the census data you have 1010 families. We will be in a position to integrate the both. Census is sacrosanct data. Because for the census every enumerator has to visit every family and track the details of every individual. So census is the base on which we would like to take the UID process further.
INTERIEWER: Could you tell us a little about the National Population Register exercise in Jharkhand?
Speaker: There is a simultaneous process that is going on with the census and the National Population Register. The only difference is that we have to cover 15 plus population. We are integrating the population with 15 plus: if any individual is less than 15 years old we are integrating the details of that person with their family.
INTERIEWER: Census covers people who are 15 years and above?
Speaker: Census covers 100%.
INTERIEWER: And the NPR?
Speaker: The NPR covers people who are 15 years or older.
INTERIEWER: What is the purpose of the National Population Register? Why is it being conducted as a separate exercise from the census?
Speaker: In fact in the coming days the idea is to integrate the data with the UID. So that we should be able to know the details of a particular area or the demography. It is very clear that nothing is related to the citizenship of this country or any part of this country. We are just trying to track the details of a person residing inside the country.
INTERIEWER: If a lot of the welfare schemes that the government has for people is either basis of their caste status or on the basis of their BPL status, whereas the UID is a universal number. How is the issuing of the UID for the state or district administration going to enable the delivery of development schemes? How for instance rations for BPL people, schooling for SC/ST students and other centrally sponsored schemes for the SC/STs, how are they going to be mapped out of the UID number? How is the UID number going to be useful in their delivery?
Speaker: The first thing would be that the UID would help with proper planning. Because if have the UID for a particular pocket. Then you would exactly know the total population. If we take one village and if we are sure that 50% of the population are women. Then we will be in a position to chalk out a plan for the population. The first thing would be to have a proper realistic figure on the basis of which we can plan these things.
Once we know the exact number of persons residing in one particular pocket then it is easier for us to identify the schemes based on their requirement.
See if the population is 500 then we would be in a position to provide 5 drinking wells or 5 hand pumps. If we know that the population is 700 then we will be in a position to increase the schemes for the villages. SImilarly under NREGA. If we know that these number of people reside in a village we will be in a position to sanction more schemes for the villages so that they would avail the employment opportunities in their own villages. So these would help the state administration in getting the work done in a proper way.
INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us a little about the challenges. We read in the newspapers that Jharkhand is integrating the UID with the PDS and the mid day mean scheme. Could you speak about the challenges of integrating biometric authentication in both ration shops and primary schools?
Speaker: In fact in this processes we are going ahead not only for the PDS but other social benefit schemes like old age pensions and widow pensions. The state has been considering it very seriously. We are hopeful that we can get the work done. The only challenge I feel is the regular updating. Inclusion and exclusion.
If we are providing some old age pensions to some beneficiaries, after their demise that name is to be excluded. We have to use this data for exclusion. Similarly, if we have got one or two vacant places then we have to include more beneficiaries. So that’s one of the challenges. Regular updating is very important and it would be a challenge for us in both UID and others.
INTERIEWER: Is there any plan in place for regular updating? How will for instance the UIDAI database reflect that the Aadhaar number belongs to a dead person?
Speaker: The state has been coordinating this thing and they would be in a better position to reply to this question. I request you to speak to the state authorities.
INTERIEWER: From what the UIDAI has been saying that its greatest use is going to be in authentication. That if I want to come and say to you that I am Shruti Chaganti then my fingerprint will testify to the fact that I am Shruti Chaganti. So a range of government services will now have to equip themselves for this authentication mechanism. As a district administrator what is the process that you are planning to enable all of these service delivery agencies to have all these authentication mechanisms?
Speaker: In fact this would be helpful in the future and I am very optimistic because I am talking about Ranchi. Ranchi has been included under the e-district project. So we are trying to provide various services through e-services.
INTERIEWER: Could you list some of the services?
Speaker: We have identified 14 services like issuing caste certificates, pensions, disbursal of stipends and land records. These are some of the services that we are going to implement in the very immediate future. Most likely from the first of April.
INTERIEWER: Could you talk a little bit about this. What does it mean to say e-services? Are you digitising databases?
Speaker: Not only digitising but issuing the services at their doorsteps. For example if a student is studying in Bangalore. If he or she has to apply then as of now he has to come to Ranchi to submit the application. Then again after verification he gets his stipend.
Now he has to apply directly online. And we will be issuing the certificate with a digital signature. So he need not come to his home or hometown for getting the work done. Similarly, like in our jails. If we provide (prisoners) the video conferencing facility from the block headquarters. Their relatives need not come to visit them in jail.
We would like to decrease the pressure in the core areas. There are areas that we have identified where we would be in a position to provide these services. We have Common Service Centres for every panchayat after election of panchayats. As you know panchayat elections have taken place after a gap of 32 years.
Now we have got panchayat functionaries at every panchayat. We are not taking these services to the panchayat level. We are providing computers and other equipment. This would be very helpful as we go along. Like the identification of the beneficiaries. Taking the thumb impression and other things would help the administration in the future.
INTERIEWER: If we want to understand more about the IT services. Mr.Satyendra Singh will talk to us about that?
Speaker: He is the coordinating it at the state level. And as far as Ranchi is concerned that will help a lot. Because this e-district project that is just one of the schemes in Jharkhand. If we introduce it in a proper way then it could be extended to other districts.
INTERIEWER: So this e-district project is a state project?
Speaker: No it is a government of India project so it is centrally sponsored.
INTERIEWER: How many districts in Jharkhand are e-district project?
Speaker: Just one, Ranchi. It is a pilot project.