Jun 12, 2006

Securing India?

On one hand the government in planning to do away with police verification of the address of a passport applicant and intends to shift to the system of issuing passports only on the basis of identification of an applicant. On the other hand the government wants to toughen its anti-hijacking policy.

In a country where government officials are corrupt to the core, doing away with police verification may make it easy for Indians to get genuine passports but is not going to make any difference in controlling terrorists and illegal immigrants from obtaining legitimacy as Indian citizens when fake passports and fake identification papers are available for a song. Bangladeshi illegal immigrants have all the identification papers in order than most Indians should actually have!

Maybe moving to biometrically enabled e-passports, which could deter passport thefts and forgeries could be the solution. A number of countries are about to launch trials of passports and visas that incorporate basic biometric information about the document holder alongside the traditional photo and passport number - data such as a digital image of the citizen's face that will be compared to a facial scan taken at the airport.

In India however, e-passports, which could be the size of an ATM card, would replace present day passports by 2013.

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