Without Foundation

Aadhaar, ‘the foundation’ (loosely translated) is a gigantic project, that will assign unique numbers to all people in India, to serve as a single reference point to firmly establish their identity. UIDAI, the Unique Identity Authority of India, has been set up, ad interim, as a department of the Planning Commission of India to steward this project.

AadhaarLogo.png

A friend of mine, Ram Krishnaswamy, has tracked well over 400 articles extolling the merits of the project, and gathered them at the blog “Aadhararticles.blogspot.com”. Specific references are linked in this blogpost.

Rather than reassure, however, they raise questions in the mind about the worth of the project. Ram and I decided to work together to compile some key questions. A detailed version of our study has been published in print, in MoneyLife, the magazine brought out by crusading journalists Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu, here and here. This blogpost reflects that article (which is part of an ongoing series). It also reflects some additional information about Q2 below received after it was originally written, and is updated as of Friday, 20 August, 2010.

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Doing less with more, or, fossil fools

I know. That could be about just about anything we humans do with the natural resources at our disposal – except manage the residue, it seems.

But this post is about spectrum usage, and energy. Odd combination. Eager readers of my tireless prose might wonder, since I have already posted here about alternate energy conversion routes, and about spectrum, at length (friends assure me it is entirely too much length, in fact. As Garth Brooks put it, I’ve got friends. On the other hand, maybe I don’t have a lot of readers).

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Filed under Accessibility, Blogroll, broadband, Communication, Community, development, energy, Fossil Fuels, Radio, social processes, Wind Power

Size matters

Not long ago, the nation of India decided it was mature enough to allow people to communicate with each other, even poor people (of which there are, as it happens, still a few). Not just talking, which is more or less a habit, but using high quality electronic telecommunications, of which the very cheapest is FM (frequency modulated radio broadcasting, using the medium wave band). Continue reading

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Wind Power Sails Ahead

(Based on an email posting by Ralph – figment at boone stop com – following an inspiration from Dr Win Wenger: design and development by Ralph, including linked drawings. Thanks to Prem Saran for the link.
Following an angry comment from a reader that the post is obscure and turgidly written, I have made an effort to edit and hopefully improve it. I have put my ‘comments’ as asides, however, both Ralph’s original post and my comments are in first person voice)

(This is a) design for a wind-powered energy system that can tap at least 60 times as much energy as the United States Renewable Energy Laboratories states is available in a square meter of wind. The system does this not by some magical process (it is extremely mundane) but apparently by tapping into very large volumes of moving air, as seen in the sails of large sailing ships. With it, you should be able to easily reach single-digits megawatt/hours of power in windspeeds as low as 10 statute-miles- per-hour, or drive a pump with thousands of horsepower of kinetic energy in those same winds. Continue reading

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Primative Communication

For quite a while, many years, I would say, I have assumed speech to be a pretty level playing field factor for HCI (vis-a-vis human computer interface design), and much of the work Arun and I have done, even the “name” we used to do this work (Radiophony), implied “speech” as a deliverable.

Two interesting snippets makes me feel a rethink is worthwhile. As primates, the evolution of our collection of species is exceedingly communication-centric, and no species on earth has developed communication more complexly and richly than humans. Continue reading

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Private? uh uh

A couple of mornings ago, I read in a local newspaper that the police somewhere had caught a robber who stole a gold chain off a little girl’s neck. Unfortunately, the intrepid fellow had apparently swallowed the chain, thus neatly concealing all evidence. Not to be left clueless, the police ordered an X-ray examination of his abdomen, and the evidence was unearthed in plain black and white. And in other colours, to be revealed when the forcibly administered laxatives got to work.

I searched for the news item online, so as to post it here. I didn’t find it, but a strikingly similar theft apparently happened in Mexico two months ago. Is this copy-catting or what? According to a mail I got recently, ‘pagerism’ is a journalist using someone else’s beeper, but I suspect this isn’t quite as innocent.

Anyway, this isn’t really about missing evidential chains, but about the kind of thinking that pervades the thinking of some people in authority, that the badge of office confers the inalienable right to invade other people’s space, including subjecting them forcibly to potentially cancer causing radiation for non-medical reasons.

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Money doesn’t Grow on Trees

“One could make this argument [with TRAI]“, says my friend Dr Arun Mehta, “that the people who need it most are being denied mobile phone value added services.” We have been discussing, on the India-GII mail list, the enabling of money transfers through mobile devices.

But TRAI cannot act in this matter, unfortunately, and that’s to do with the implementation of the capital system (not political, I mean the nuts and bolts of the system). This blogpost looks at why, but (since it is difficult to shut me up once I have got started) it goes further, to chalking out a scenario where virtual cash rules.
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