Hyderabad: Speaking about the dangers of National Population Register (NPR) in Telangana, Srinivas Kodali, an independent researcher on data governance said that Telangana already has the citizen data required for the National Population Register. “In Telangana, KCR has collected everything: from your voter ID to your PAN card details, in order to create a database for the state. Samagra Vedika basically gives you a state ID number by linking all the government databases which contain the data of citizens. In a sense, the work for NPR is already done in Telangana,” said the data researcher.
‘Samagra Vedika’, the search software which was launched by the Telangana government in 2017, allows the state to check citizen’s data from about 25 departments. Details are cross-checked and verified with the help of a person’s name, father’s name and residential address.
Highlighting how Andhra Pradesh has always been a site for citizenship experimentation, Srinivas Kodali emphasized that NPR was never a sudden decision, but a gradual build-up of all data collection exercises taken up by the state since 2015, like Aadhar. “Aadhar already has a 100 error codes, and the government is unable to explain those. How can you make Aadhar as the basis of distributing of state’s welfare system, when Aadhar itself is problematic?” asked the researcher.
He further questioned how the Telangana government is trying to create a situation where people may not get government jobs without taking an Aadhar or providing the information that they demand. “Data is the new land, and it is only natural that governments will try to capitalize it by selling to other private entities for a profitable amount. With data collection exercises like Aadhar, they reduce you from a citizen to a consumer. With NRC, it is like you’re guilty of not being an Indian, until proven innocent, when the actual burden of proving citizenship should be on the state, and not the citizens.”
The recent issues about deletion of 30 lakh voters from electoral rolls in Telangana, the problems with facial recognition systems put forward by Hyderabad police through CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems) were also discussed at the talk.
The talk named ‘The Dangers of Data: The National Population register in Telangana’ was organized by a group named Legal Unconscious at Lamakaan, Banjara Hills.