Who is the person I hate the most ? No; not that one, whom I frankly don’t care about . He is half the planet away and troubling other folks; not me. My visceral hate is reserved for somebody much closer home. The “dotard” called Ramamritham. Allow me an unhinged rant please; I badly need it !
You see, the problem is that Ramamritham has fallen head over heels in insane love. We all know how crazy he is even when supposedly normal. Now that his brain circuits have been singed with love, he has become a monster. The delectable damsel who has swept this idiot off his rockers is called Aadhaar.
For the benefit of the one American reader who claims to be ignorant about India (no; not the lady – she is an expert !), Aadhaar is the national ID that every resident of India is supposed to get.
The government introduced Aadhaar some 5 years ago ostensibly as a way to identify individuals to whom subsidies could be paid directly and thereby minimise leakages. The government gave pious assurances (including to the Supreme Court) that Aadhaar was not compulsory or mandatory and it would never make it so.
I think the government framed this with good intentions, but had not factored that the old toothless fart, Ramamritham, would fall in love with this. They say love makes you irrational, and if anybody needed any further proof of this, look at what this apology to the human race is doing.
He first made Aadhaar mandatory for buying gas cylinders. Then he made it mandatory to operate any bank account. Then he made it mandatory to file a tax return. But where he has gone completely bonkers is that he has now made it mandatory for a mobile connection !! And where it truly descends into madness is that its not just an Aadhaar number that this clown wants. He wants a fingerprint match for every mobile owner !! No; I am not joking. He wants to fingerprint you before you have a mobile phone.
Consider the logistics. There are 1.2 billion people in India. Perhaps some 800 million own a mobile phone. And we being the argumentative Indians we are, don’t possess just one connection . Almost everybody has two SIM cards. And this is what Ramamritham wants us to do.
1. Go physically to a store of the mobile company (they usually have one store for a million users)
2. Stand in a queue ; you can imagine the length of the queue yourself
3. Give your mobile number and Aadhaar number to whoever is behind the counter
4. You will get a one time password on your phone
5. Give this number to the flunkey
6. He will enter some 10 fields into a computer system that has been ordained by Ramamritham.
7. You then place your thumb on a fingerprint reader
8. If it goes through (and that’s a big IF – see below), then the flunkey does some more fiddling with the system
9. You then place your thumb a second time (Ramamritham wants to make absolutely sure)
10. If it again goes through, then say four different prayers and then go home
11. You’ll get a SMS saying that your request has been registered and that you will get a confirmation in 24/48 hours
12. If you get a SMS after 24/48 hours, you should follow the instructions there and type Y or N or don’t do anything
13. If you fail in any of these steps, go to Step 1
Note : The big IF arises because , this being India, any sensible store has bought a cheap Chinese fingerprint reader and it is impregnated with the smudges of the half a million people who have tried to bestow their affections on it. Therefore your fingerprint is rarely read on the first attempt. If you fail in three attempts, your Aadhaar gets locked and if you want to unlock it then you have to undergo some contortions not dissimilar to what a certain Mr Scaramucci suggested a Mr Bannon was in the habit of doing.
800 million Indians have to do this twice ( not just once, for you see everyone has two SIM cards). If you are stretcher bound, you still have to do this. Nobody else can do it for you because you have to press your damn thumb on that damn machine in the store. If you don’t do this by February, be prepared to just not have a mobile phone. Cost estimates for the whole nation to cater to Ramamritham’s love affair have been pegged at Rs 1000 crores.
I have lived in the most obsessed country in the world which wants to control every single bit of information you have access to – China. This is the country that has blocked Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, ………… This is the country that employs a million people to read every tweet and delete those that it doesn’t like. Even in that country, buying a SIM card was as simple as going to a corner shop and just buying it. No paper, no forms, no crap. It takes all of 2 minutes. And I am now supposed to be living in a liberal democracy called India. And I have to do all of what I have outlined in this post, simply to have the privilege of talking to a friend.
Unfortunately this is not the worst of it. The other day, I had to receive a payment from some company. They demanded my Aadhaar. Very soon, if I have to pee, I am sure I will have to validate my Aadhaar.
Readers are invited to design the most creative torture that can be inflicted on Ramamritham. And to the good American referred to earlier in the post. Let’s do an exchange. I’ll gladly take your dear leader in exchange for Ramamritham !!