The reasons for the differences are many: territorial, civil liberties, intellectual, political and technological. Put it all together and it gives the impression that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) - a novelty in the delivery of a government service - is under siege. From within the government. Nilekani shrugs it off as a "process of debate" natural to a project of such scale and transformational impact. "An important lesson I have learnt is that in the public space, there are a lot more stakeholders with different views," says the UIDAI chairman.and
But another top UIDAI official, not wanting to be identified, points to motives in the guise of differences: "It is part skepticism, part vested interests."The linked article gives an in-depth analysis of the bureaucratic and political forces at work in the implementation of India's UID program. Read the whole thing.
Identity management is about people. The people issues are always thornier than the technological problems. And, yes, UID will upset many applecarts. That's why it's important and that's why it will be hard.
Nandan Nilekani is the animating spirit of the UID project. He knows technology through education and experience among the founding generation of Unisys. He knows management, evidenced by his rise to become CEO of that firm. He knows India (inasmuch as India is "knowable"), having attended Indian schools at every level of his education and having lived in several places there. And he knows government through his service on various committees and advisory groups. He is, perhaps, the only person capable of pulling this off.
No matter how it all turns out, the subject will provide plenty of material for MBA and Political Science textbook writers for years.
There's a tendency when discussing big issues to focus on the big names. The linked article does it, as does this analysis. But we'll never know the names of the people to whom UID matters most. Those people can be seen in the wonderful photographs that accompany this article.
More on UID and Nandan Nilekani from The Atlantic. How to Count One-Sixth of the World's Population.