Biometrics Current Affairs - 2020

Parliamentary Standing Committee: No Sufficient Checks on genuineness of Fertilizer Subsidy

On March 20, 2020, the Parliamentary Standing Committee that was set up under the leadership of the Lok Sabha Member Kanimozhi Karunanidhi submitted its report. The Committee was set up to check whether genuine farmers are getting fertilizer subsidy.

Highlights

The Report says that until December 2019, 1182.04 lakh metric tonnes of fertilizers have been sold under Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme. Currently, the identity of the buyer or farmer is authenticated through Aadhar-based identification, Kisan Credit Card, biometric or voter ID.

According to the committee, there are chances of misuse of the methodology by retailers. The retailers might collect Aadhaar cards or demand thumb impression for an amount. They are then selling the fertilizers in black market showing false sale.

What is the issue?

Currently, the subsidies are paid to the fertilizer companies based on the receipts of their sales made by the retailers to the beneficiaries. This has created a black market and is hurting farmers badly.

Also, fertilizers subsidies consume 0.5% of GDP which is the second highest after food.

Solution

The GoI in order to curb black marketing of fertilizer introduced Point of Sale machines selling of fertilizers. These machines were directly connected to the central server that captures details of every buyer. Hence, the data collected will help identify the impersonator.

Types of Fertilizers

The three major types of fertilizers used are Urea, Muriate of Potash and Diammonium Phosphate. O all these fertilizers, urea accounts to 86%. Currently, GoI is taking several steps to control the use of urea and replace it with NPK fertilizers.

India 5th worst country in terms of invasive use of biometric data

According to a new report from Comparitech, a Britain-based tech research firm, India is fifth worst country after China, Malaysia, Pakistan and United States in terms of extensive and invasive use of biometric data.

Methodology: The study was conducted based on- 50 different countries were anlaysed to find out where biometrics are being taken, what they are being taken for, and how they are being stored. Each country was scored out of 25, with high scores indicating extensive and invasive use of biometrics/ surveillance. The low score demonstrated better restrictions and regulations regarding biometric use and surveillance. Among the factors that were used for scoring countries, the researchers looked also at whether the country failed to introduce a law to protect biometric data.

Key Highlights of Study

India scored 19 and was ranked relatively lower in the list of worst countries for biometric data collection. India was based on not permitting law enforcement to get access to national biometric database known as Aadhaar. India shares fifth position with Indonesia, Philippines and Taiwan. China was scored 24.

Countries in European Union (EU) scored better overall than non-EU countries due to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations, which protects the use of biometrics at workplace to some extent.

5 Best Countries: United Kingdom, Portugal, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania emerged as 5 best countries in terms of collection, storage and use of biometric data.

However, despite many countries recognising biometric data as sensitive, increased biometric use is widely accepted.