Interview with Narendra Singh, Panchayat Pradhan, Chari village, Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh
Duration: 00:21:54; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 62.038; Saturation: 0.045; Lightness: 0.332; Volume: 0.293; Cuts per Minute: 4.154; Words per Minute: 54.864
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 Narendra Singh, Panchayat Pradhan, Chari Village, Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, and Jyoti, an Aadhaar operator in the Chari Panchayat enrolment centre who is pursuing a MSc. in information technology from Punjab Technical University (PTU) through a correspondence course. She claims to be simultaneously gaining “experience” while working in this enrolment centre. I-Grandee Pvt Ltd. the designated enrolment agency for this area hires correspondent students from PTU on a temporary contract for conducting enrolments. These students get something around Rs 4000 a month and have to necessarily complete 1500 enrolments per month. This video clip also carries shots of the enrolment process. For more on Aadhaar Operators see the Identity Project short film - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jQyPZMkh3A
Interviewer: How many people under your panchyat fall under BPL?
Pradhan: We have 208 people under BPL, 42 are under Anntoday rest are under the Annapurna.
Interviewer: How many votes are there?
Pradhan: I guess it’s more than 3000 now, but according to the Election Poll it was 2600.
Interviewer: Do you maintain the election records at the panchyat?
Pradhan: No we do not keep the records; it’s done by the election office.
Interviewer: When did you contest for the elections and from which party?
Pradhan: The election was held on 30th December. I don't belong to a party. I feel that panchyat elections should not be based on the parties. The voters are from the village and associating with parties will create a divide. Its good that there is no such problem in our panchyat. Its a good and well developed panchyat. The Corporation elections are party based since it is in the city.
Interviewer: How come you are here on a Sunday?
Pradhan: I prefer sitting here and giving time to the people. Usually the trend with Pradhans is they do not sit at the panchyat ghar and people have to go to their homes. I sit here daily between 9AM to 11AM daily, irrespective of Sundays and holidays, so even the working can meet me.
Interviewer: Is it panchayat's duty to spared awareness about the Aadhar Card?
Pradhan: Its the panchayat's duty to spread awareness about all the programs. I don't have a clear idea about the Aadhaar card, all I know is its another type if an identity card. Other ID's can be a fake but this one it the most reliable. That's what I have understood. I would like to know more from you.
Interviewer: When you provide services at the panchyat level, you need identification from the residents. Do you think Aadhaar card will help?
Pradhan: Yes definitely, With the Aadhaar card people will get a code number using with their Demographic and biometric details can be identified. A lot of people come to Himachal as labor from the other states and they do not have ID cards. We ask them to get registered at the police station. In case there they create a problem tomorrow so that helps in tracking them.
There are a lot of projects going on in Himachal and the labor is from Srinagar, Nepal, UP and Bihar. In such cases the Aadhar number can be used to verify them.
Interviewer: Has there been any issue with identification while providing services?
Pradhan: Nothing as such but there are people who are newly married or are very poor and do not have any identification document. I verify them and give them the identification and address proof under my seal. I am the introducer.
Interviewer: How do you verify the people who do not have any documents?
Pradhan: We check for their names in the family registers. Most of the people are born and brought up in the village so we know them.
Interviewer: What about the people who come from other places?
Pradhan: We check their ration cards, we don't give it just like that. They must have a No Objection Certificate from their corporation and have their pervious ration card canceled. Then we will enter them here.
Interviewer: Do you have registrations for the Tibetans Refugees and have you faced any problems with them?
Pradhan: We do not have any under our panchyat. They are nice people and harmonious but we might face a problem in the future. According to my view, the next generation will lead to some problems.
Interviewer: What kind of problem?
Pradhan: The next generation is born in India. They Girls and Boys are marrying the locals hence they will demand their rights as Indian citizens. I feel we might face a problem. They are in Macleod Gangue and their youth has been drinking and involved in fights. One or two murders have also taken place. Himachalis are peaceful by nature. This might get exploited. Otherwise they are very nice people; even the Dali lama is a nice person and many others too. Another reason is the easy money for the youngsters. There are my views.
Interviewer: We have seen that the awareness about the Aadhar cards is less in Himachal. The applicants are reluctant towards it. Are you providing help with the forms and the registration process of the Aadhar cards?
Pradhan: Yes, till the officials arrive I distribute the forms. I even fill the forms for the applicant who can’t fill it themselves. I distribute the tokens and ask them to come turn by turn. I myself am managing them and monitoring the process over here.
Interviewer: Have you faced any issues with the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act program?
Pradhan: It is a very good scheme that guarantees at least 100 days of employment especially for the women. In Himachal ladies are actively taking part in it. With the financial aid they are able to attend to their person needs and are becoming independent. We do face some financial issues as its a 60% labor and 40% material scheme. I feel it’s just the beginning and even I am new here so as time passes it will improve.
Interviewer: We have heard that, in some places, workers are facing issues getting their wages?
Pradhan: No it’s not the case, the wages directly go to their accounts. We do not pay him from the office.
Interviewer: What about the illiterate workers how do they withdraw their wages?
Pradhan: They are given passbooks for their accounts and the bank employees help them in filling the forms for their withdrawal process. Earlier the entire family used to have one account but now every person has his/her own account.
When we get the cheque we deposit it to the bank with a list of everybody's wages. The money is distributed into the workers accounts accordingly. This is a much better process as earlier they used to give it from the panchyat and that time I guess they used to cheat the illiterate. That's what I have heard.
Interviewer: How do you deal with the duplication of the ration cards?
Pradhan: Such a card can only be issued by a Pradhan or the secretary. In out panchyat we demand a No Objection Certificate or an affidavit from the outstation candidates. I have been elected recently so i have asked all the nonresidents to verify their NOC's and affidavits once again. I have heard that in Himachal we have 2.5 Lakh Ration cards issued but the rations worth 3.5 Lakh is being distributed.
Interviewer: Thank You
Interviewer: We would like to record an enrolment process.
An enrolment process carried out by an Aadhar Official named Jyoti is being recorded.
Interviewer: Where were you trained?
Jyoti: Sir in Dharamshala.
Interviewer: Who trained you? Was it the I-Grandee? Are you a part of i-Grandee?
Jyoti: We were trained by Vishal Sir and Rajneesh Sir. I am a Punjab Technical University, doing my masters via correspondence.
Interviewer: Is this your summer internship?
Interviewer: How long will you be working here?
Jyoti: We will be here till the work is completed.
Interviewer: Till what time do you work here?
Jyoti: We come here by 10 AM and leave by 5PM. I have to go to Noorpur.
Interviewer: What do you like about the work here?
Jyoti: We gain experience over here. It’s nice to talk to different people.
The officials are trying to get the attention of kids to capture their photographs.