Tripura: Emerging e-State?
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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
Emerging e-State? excerpts from all the interviews and footage generated during fieldwork in Tripura in December 2011. This aims at highlighting the diverse opinions that people from both state and civil society hold in Tripura, with regard to Aadhaar, development and technology.
Sukhendu Debbarma: First of all what has come is your citizenship and being the border state, it is very sensitive. And then the ration card... then as per the notification of the government of India on scheduled list, we have been put as scheduled tribes, so that is again another identification and then you have what is called PRTC - Permanent Resident Certificate of Tripura is one which is being given.
Interviewer: What will happen with this identity? How will you benefit?
Pratuish Das: What will I get? As a citizen, I’ll have to get this identity. That's why I’m here.
Interviewer: What do you do?
Das: I'm in business.
Interviewer: What kind of Business?
Das: In fish.
Tarun Debnath: Aadhaar itself is a number only. It has the purpose of identity and flawless identity is what I mean.
Earlier also we had a lot of identity (identification systems). But you know that photograph fade in the course of time and there won't be any similarity between the person and the photo on the ID.
Suppose MGNREGA wants... their work is going on and their payment is made through the banks. Yet, there's a question mark whether the real beneficiary is getting the money or not.
Because it is our belief that I am the person A who is getting the money but the authenticity isn't as well established. If the Aadhaar is entangled with the payment, then it'll be genuine and the genuine person has received the money.
Amitav Datta: ...BC, they're using the biometric cards. These are basically swipe cards. Once that is swiped only then the transaction will be possible.
Sukhendu Debbarma: ... learning for the first time. I really don't know what's going on in the government, since we're not part of the government. Only now I learned that there's a massive thing that's going to happen but my whole point is how is it going to help in the development process?
How will a villager on the border of Bangladesh, Tripura and Mizoram, how are they going to be impacted by this?
Tarun Debnath: For many Aadhaar application related issues, we have submitted a proposal of 10.4 crores to UIDAI. Out of this proposal, Rs 50 lac is already issued.
Sukhendu Debbarma: All these states are trying to smart out oneself. Because in order to do all this you need funds. If you cannot over smart the others, you will no get funds.
So basically what we try to do when we do project and other things, what will you do? You want to prove yourself that this can be done.
You have to defend. Now defending and getting things done and the result going to the last person, there's a huge gap.
Bidyuth Datta: then we implemented CIC - Community Information Centres. CIC is also a project under NEGP. Earlier, it was also fully funded by the government of India.
We had 40 blocks and in all 40 blocks, we had implemented this for training, citizencentric services, awareness - everything we did and we had this infrastructure at block levels.
Loan Agent: In CSCs at the moment there is no G2C service. Only this centre has G2C's tele homeopathy. Here people can contact doctors in Agartala, Kolkata and Mumbai and get medicines prescribed, online, and free of cost.
Registration is ten rupees. The customers can directly speak to the doctor and the doctor prescribes medicines. The centre has a store of medicines also. Everything is available here and is free. When the patient comes here for the first time, there's a registration fee of 10 rupees for the online service.
Interviewer: Is there a demand for homeopathy here? How any people come here on an average?
Mithun Debnath: On an average, every month about 30-35 patients. Sometimes it goes up to 45 even.
Interviewer: What kind of health problem do they have?
Mithun Debnath: Problems like tumours, when fish bones get stuck in the throat, fevers, colds, and hip, stomach and chest pains. A lot of people come for this.
Speaker: The tele-homeopathy tender was awarded to ILFS. ILFS, IT department and our company, BASIX are working in collaboration on this project.
Look here. This is the patient's name. The doctor from Agartala has treated her on this date. This is the disease name and this drug name. I give medication to the patients according to this.
Whoever's come here to get treated have benefitted in some way. We have good feedback.
Tarun Debnath: If Aadhaar is entangled with the issues, the main thing that we can ensure is if anybody possesses more than one card, it will be immediately (cancelled). Adhaar is a unit number and if by my name there are two cards, then Adhaar will be able identify the persons who have more than one.
Interviewer: When was this list made?
Bideesh Roy: 1992.
Interviewer: '92?! But this must have changed a lot since '92. New people would've come...
Bideesh Roy: Yes, New people have come but the new list hasn't come to us.
Interviewer: So if the new people are below poverty line, even then they won't have access to the benefits?
Roy: No. We won't know who is BPL and who's not.
Interviewer: So the new people arrived after 92 would have difficulties.
Interviewer: Are there any problems with that? Do they come here and ask?
Roy: It isn't our problem. They aren't on our list and we can't do anything.
Interviewer: DO people come here to request?
Roy: There's no use coming here. The list isn't here and we can't do anything. Only if they're on the list then we can give them the benefits.
The survey is going on and when the report comes then we'll give them their benefits.
We're not aware who will get the BPL benefits.
Dileep Debnath: ...took 18,000. I recover Rs.1275 per month.
Interviewer: What do you do?
Gopur Mia: I ride a rickshaw now. I do some farming and other odd jobs as and when they come along.