The Telangana government has extended its help to the Modi government to live-track each and every detail of India’s 1.2 billion citizens without relying on Aadhaar and to scale it into a system, a report in HuffPost India reveals.
According to a report published in HuffPost India, Telangana’s Department of Information Technology, Electronics, and Communications Principal Secretary Jayesh Ranjan on October 19, 2018, told the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney his counterpart that Telangana had already developed a system that can trace 30 million residents in the state. And he offered to help the central government to scale it to a system that could trace the details of each and every citizen of India. The Telangana government has named it Samagram.
Social Registry is a blueprint of the Modi government’s plan to track religion, caste, income, property, education, marital status, employment, disability and family-tree data of every single citizen.
Other than the basic details like religion, caste, income, education, marital status, employment, disability, and family-tree data, the controversial Social Registry will use an automated system to trace the travelling of the resident, change of jobs, buying a new property, birth, death or marriage of a member of a family or shifting to their spouse’s home, as per the previous report by the HuffPost India.
The Social Registry will get the information from the Telangana government-based surveys, the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) (conducted in 2011)and household survey the Samagra Kutumba (conducted in 2014) and by integrating 30 different government databases, which the government gathered on the basis of trust from every single resident voter for demographic and socio-economic data.
The Samagram database information will be shared by law enforcement agencies, and the data collected for poverty alleviation is also being used by the coercive arms of the state.
Surprisingly, this offer by the Telangana government to the Centre came just a few days after the Supreme Court had truncated the use of Aadhaar for citizenship details terming it as a breach of privacy.
Telangana’s Department of Information Technology, Electronics and Communications Principal Secretary Jayesh Ranjan wrote in his email, accessed by HuffPost India through the Right To Information Act, “In view of the recent decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court on Aadhaar, there is an immediate need to look for solutions which use 360-degree view without dependence on Aadhaar.”
The email further reads, “Telangana has initiated a project called Samagram about 2 and half years ago which is a Smart Governance Platform for multiple governance objectives through record linkages across very large datasets without depending on any unique ID…….will be very happy to offer this solution to other states as well as many departments of the Government of India. We can come over to Delhi for a presentation to you.”
Ranjan, Principal Secretary of Telangana’s Department of IT, said in a public address in July 2019, “As all of us are aware, all of us have digital footprints. Whenever we do some kind of a transaction where record maintenance is required, we leave behind a digital footprint. If you tell me one person’s name I can give his entire digital footprint at about 96% accuracy to then.”
The bureaucrats and law enforcement officials of the state-initiated their work to excess the details of every resident by accessing the excessive amounts of government data at a time. The system previously existed but now it is revealed how deep and intruding the Telangana database is.
“The massive database had significant potential for misuse”, says one of the architects of the proposed Social Registry and former Economic Advisor to the Union Ministry of Rural Development Manoranjan Kumar, as quoted by HuffPost India.
He added, “I would not implement it until other systems around it are reformed in a way that there is symmetry and justice for citizens. Improve data security in the government. Improve the capacity of the courts. Then you implement this kind of system. Otherwise, it can only be misused by the state.”
Through the Samagram app, an official got the access of an iconic city-based sports person and their father in seconds, sitting in a nondescript two-storey office, and said while smiling, “They are quite rich. They have got four vehicles. Now we’ll try to build their network. How they are linked to others. This is only for law and order. Even if you just give a phone number, everything it builds.”
The official told HuffPost India that the system can develop maps of five kinds of relationships: parents, children, siblings, spouses, and other residual relationships like people living in the same address, people using the same phone number or email id. “If you click on any of those individuals, the relationship tree further develops that person’s network. You can keep drilling down until the last node is reached.”
“This kind of network resolution, the Financial Intelligence Unit wants to try, the income tax department wants to try, NATGRID (counter-terror intelligence-National Intelligence Grid) wants to try, all enforcement agencies want to try. They are at various levels. But nobody has reached this advanced level on this scale,” said the official.
Telangana state officials say their tracking and matching system is scarily accurate.