One more ID? Spare us, please

One more ID? Spare us, please

family ID

Identity cards and numbers are the icons of the times — the more there are, the messier life is. When life is getting more complicated and confusing, the effort should be to make it simpler and less difficult. But the idea is lost on most governments and other authorities who, unfortunately, have a big role in organising our lives and even deciding how we should live them. The Karnataka government’s plan to create one more ID for the people of the state by way of a family ID is one such effort. As per the proposal, the new ID will have all the essential data of the members of a household, drawn from the public distribution system database, and will be linked to Aadhaar numbers. It may be made a pre-requisite for availing the benefits of government programmes, especially family-oriented schemes. It is claimed that the ID will provide a readymade database on the number of schemes availed by a family and will help in ensuring that the benefits actually reach the right people. 

But why a new ID for this? There is already the ration card, the mother of all IDs and a legacy from a harder but less uncertain past. It has withstood the ravages of time and the invasions of more fashionable IDs-come-lately, like the Aadhaar number, and is accepted everywhere as a proof of family identity and individual existence. The ration card is a unique moniker that is both collective and individualistic. It should serve all the purposes meant to be served by the family ID. There is also the Aadhaar card, whose purpose is to ensure that no benefit meant for the poor and deserving goes astray. What can the new family ID do that the ration card and the Aadhaar number cannot? This needs explaining, especially when it is to be based on the ration card database itself. 

Is the new ID a name, a number, alphabet or a combination of all? Families are nuclear now and are in a flux. Will the ID change when a member goes away and sets up a new family? Aadhaar is a stable number but still gives much trouble, so a shifting family ID may be even more problematic. Individuals were once known as members of families whose names never changed and so had their IDs writ in stone, so to speak. But there are more definitions and descriptions now of individuals as they are, and for many life is an assemblage of various IDs. We should be able to do without one more, and be happy to be so. 

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