NEW DELHI — It’s been nearly three years since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his “Digital India” initiative, pitched as an ambitious program to modernize this country of more than 1 billion people. Since then, the government has abruptly invalidated 86 percent of the cash in circulation, a move toward a “cashless society” that led to widespread panic and a currency crisis. It has launched dozens of apps to accompany various government programs — an app to report roadside piles of garbage to authorities, one to keep Indians up-to-date on Modi’s speeches and even one to find lost children. And undergirding the initiative is Aadhaar, an identification program that aims to collect each Indian citizen’s information, such as fingerprints and eye scans, in a database linked to every part of that person’s digital footprint — bank account numbers, cellphone details, income-tax filings, voter IDs — ostensibly allowing the government to curb identity fraud and welfare corruption.But the program has become increasingly troublesome, posing privacy issues and preventing thousands of people from receiving basic entitlements, such as food rations, pensions and fuel subsidies.
Leave a Reply