India's Biometric ID System Has Led To Starvation For Some Poor, Advocates Say | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

India's Biometric ID System Has Led To Starvation For Some Poor, Advocates Say

India has 1.3 billion people, and no equivalent of the Social Security number. About 4 in 10 births go unregistered. Less than 2 percent of the population pays income tax.

Many more are eligible for welfare benefits but may never have collected them, either because they can't figure out how or a middleman stole their share.

To try to address these issues, the Indian government rolled out the biggest biometric ID system in the world. It's voluntary, but in just eight years, India has managed to collect the fingerprints, photos and iris scans of more than 1.2 billion people.

The government says this system, called Aadhaar — "foundation" in Hindi — has helped to distribute welfare to the country's neediest; streamline the civil service; purge hundreds of thousands of names from voter rolls; and allow for people to move between states without losing benefits.

But privacy advocates are alarmed that the government has collected so much personal data. And advocates for the poor say some technical glitches have actually led to denial of benefits — even costing lives.

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