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Nilekani, your attention please…


I’m not one of those morons who yell business tycoons to join politics and to ‘save’ India.  Just because of that I’m not carried away by the Cabinet rank of Nandan Nilekani. But one should agree the importance and critical nature of his mission.

Readers..  don’t think that I’m penning down yet another essay to describe the needs of Unique Id. But this is from a personal experience… which told me how badly the system can screw you..

The social security number (SSN) is the US counterpart of the proposed unique identification number of India. It is mandatory for every employee (and others too..) to have it. You are supposed to apply for this as soon as possible.  I went to Sunnyvale office of the Social security administration and applied for SSN after 2 months since I reached there!! It was a stunning revelation which they made.. “You don’t have a first name !!!”

How the hell can one have just a Last name..?? Crazy country and crazy system.. I murmered.. After coming home I took out my passport, my VISA and I-94 (the entry/exit record).  Again craziness…

If you ask me I would say: First Name: Bijin    Last Name: Krishna

My passport said:   GivenName: Bijin Krishna (!!)  Surname: ________

My VISA : First Name: FNU   LastName: Bijin Krishna

What the hell is FNU…????  I searched the net.. Believe me, it means “First Name Unknown” !!!!  What the #@$%….

If you are interested to read how badly this affected many Indians in the US, please read this.

Nevertheless, many had solved this issue even though after a hard realization that government offices are of same nature almost in every part of the world. Me too solved this and was able to reach the ultimate aim -income tax refund – even though in a not-so-straight forward way.

But the sad part of it is that I’m still FNU BijinKrishna as far as the US records are concerned !! Imagine if  similar standards are followed in the Indian unique ID system also.  The need for a pan-Indian standard bulges out a lot. In fact that is the single most challenge we face in every project. You just cannot sit in Delhi and design it. The best example for a bad-design is the name concept in passport. Surname concept is not in use across India.

Can someone forward this to Nandan Nilekani?  (hehe..)

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Nilekani, your attention please…

  1. Country India.. as Tony says🙂

    Posted by Sarath | July 30, 2009, 11:06 am
  2. Good one bijin.Should be really helpful for those who r planning to come to US for first time & without a first name🙂.Keep blogging.

    Posted by Varadha | August 6, 2009, 11:58 pm
  3. When companies file for a US work permit on your behalf, they usually warn people of this potential issue and urge them to take corrective measures(adding/changing surname) which i believe has not happened in your case. But this would definitely be helpful for people who are tryng to get their feet into US…

    Posted by Anuroop | December 26, 2009, 8:47 am
  4. Bijin, you are very right in highlighting the issues Indians face when we are forced into a FIrsName-LastName model. Several of us end up in the same situation as you.

    As per UID data fields, “Name” is a single field and UIDAI does not mandate or force residents to the model (predominantly used in US) you talked about. That means you can write your name exactly as you wish. Name can be of 1 or 2 or as many words as needed as long as it is less than specified length. Hope that resolves your concern.

    UIDAI has published the KYR (Know Your Customer) report on the website discussing the data fields, field structure, and verification schemes. Please see http://uidai.gov.in/documents/UID_DDSVP_Committee_Report_v1.0.pdf

    Posted by Pramod Varma | January 9, 2010, 5:45 am

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