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Submitted by Jishnu Das on
Also, thanks to Nachiket Mor for pointing out the increasing use of smart cards in the Indian context. As Nachiket points out, the use of smart cards is exploding in India--from the NREGS to the RSBY (India's flagship health insurance scheme---www.rsby.in) to the ambitious scheme that will biometrically identify all citizens. I am convinced that the use of technology dramatically reduces the cost of monitoring and therefore must have some positive effects. Two caveats that still bother me. First, partially based on my work in the RSBY, I also see many potential problems and continuing issues that require a functioning legal system and some societal and political consensus to deal with. I would love, especially, to see some kind of evaluation of these schemes (its difficult to do this with the RSBY because the use of smart cards in the scheme is universal), for example comparing performance in villages with and without smart cards for NREGS. Equally, I wonder when we are going to have a debate over privacy versus service provision. Currently, the atmosphere seems to support better service provision at all costs, but Usha Ramanathan's article a while back in the Hindu (http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article388037.ece?homepage=true) really scared me. Nachiket and other out there probably know a lot more about both these topics than I do, so would love to get some feedback