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Submitted by Nachiket Mor on
Dear Dr. Das, My apologies for not seeing your comment earlier and the question at the end. Unfortunately other than acknowledging that both your questions are excellent ones and really important I cannot offer any specific feedback. The ubiquity of Smart Cards in RSBY does make a comparative evaluation difficult but the kind of tracking that it has enabled has been quite remarkable and is core the key innovation of cash-less-automatic insurance that has been pioneered within it -- I think perhaps if one compared it with the non-smart card based (non RSBY) insurance schemes that operate in several states the differences may be apparent. For the NREGS effort from what I can recall Professor Karthik Muralidharan of UCSD was doing some kind of an evaluation between the smart card and non-smart card districts within AP to help the government decide if they should go entirely cash-less across the state. The other exciting possibility that the whole UID-Smart-Cards-revolution opens up is the potential removal of all schemes and subsidies of the various governments (PDS, Kerosene, Fertilizer, Diesel, Priority sector interest rate subsidies, etc.) and their wholesale replacement by unconditional cash-transfers. Even with targeting failures surely these would be improvements over what is going on now. The privacy issue is far more tricky and you are perhaps right that our sensibilities are not exercised on these issues at the present time as they would be elsewhere. I don't think this has anything directly to do with technology though -- once there is clarity on what is permissible and what is not, good technical solutions I feel can easily be found -- for example it is entirely possible that the health data of an individual remains only on the smart chip in the card and only relevant data is permitted to be transferred to other servers. Sincerely, Nachiket Mor