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..)