Makkal ID is not similar to Aadhaar card, says TN e-Governance Director

Tamil Nadu’s State Family Database (SFDB) will provide a unique Makkal ID to each citizen, which is expected to provide a 360-degree profile of the state's residents.
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The Tamil Nadu government has invited tenders to bid for the database handling of the ‘Makkal ID’, which is to be issued to the state’s citizens. In a bid to strengthen data-centric governance in the state, the government is setting up a State Family Database (SFDB), which is described as a “single source of resident data” for the state. The SFDB, which will provide a unique Makkal ID to each citizen, is expected to act as a comprehensive citizens’ data repository.

It may be noted that the SFDB was preceded by the State Resident Data Hub (SRDH), which was supposed to be an Aadhaar-linked repository of citizens’ data for ‘360-degree profiles’ of residents. The aim of the repository was to derive data from the National Population Registry (NPR) for services provided by all departments. However, the nationwide operation was later dropped.

Speaking to TNM, Director of e-Governance/Chief Executive Officer Praveen P Nair clarified that Makkal ID is not similar to Aadhaar ID. “There will be no physical card provided to the citizens. Rather, it will be a backend number that helps the government avoid duplication of a person’s identity — through misspellings or other reasons. The purpose of Makkal ID is to integrate different types of databases existing under different departments,” he said.

Praveen also added that there will be no survey or citizen data collection carried out for the creation of the database. “The intention of the SFDB is not to collect the database of citizens. Its primary objective is to interlink different departments’ databases,” he said, adding that the tender that has been passed now is just a partial implementation of a Government Order (GO) passed in 2021.

What is the State Family Database?

SFDB is a platform that will act as a single source hosting the details of the state’s residents. The data provided by SFDB shall be “most current, relevant, complete, logically consistent, and comprehensive”, and can be used by all the government departments. 

Why such a database?

The government, in its tender, has said that the SFDB has been introduced keeping in mind that there is a large volume of data with the government in different platforms and technology stacks. This has created challenges in providing “efficient, transparent, and seamless delivery of services” to the residents of Tamil Nadu. “SFDB is envisioned as a data driven decision support infrastructure for improving Governance by aiding  planning, implementation and execution of government schemes and programs,” the tender says.

The SFDB is expected to streamline service delivery by enabling cross-department data harmonisation and synchronisation. It will also assist policy makers in making the right decisions by providing data-driven policies. The platform will be set up and maintained by the Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency (TNeGA).

TNeGA has now floated a tender inviting proposals from firms who specialise in the domain of “big data, open source technologies, data analytics, data warehousing, master data management solutions” for the implementation and maintenance of SFDB.

“A person might have his name spelled differently in different databases. This would mean that they have multiple identities and be counted as multiple people across the system. The objective of the SFDB is to create a golden record for a person, which will help us identify a person across the databases of different departments,” Praveen said, adding that the SFDB will also be used to identify if a person misses out on a policy or scheme. Golden record encompasses all the data in all the departments related to a particular person. 

What will the SFDB do? 

The primary aim of the SFDB is to connect the existing applications and database to the updated ones, in order to improve governance through effective service delivery, greater accountability of government departments, and more efficient monitoring of government schemes. Further, it will also support data driven policy-making and improve transparency within government departments. Once SFDB comes into operation, new services can be easily designed and integrated into the database.

What is Makkal ID?

Makkal ID is supposed to be a unified Aadhaar-enabled database of all citizens of the state. The SFDB will contain all the data of all the citizens in one place, which can be accessed through the Makkal ID. The data repository will be made accessible to all departments that provide services to citizens. Each resident will be provided with a unique ID known as ‘Makkal ID’. It will be a string of ‘random numbers’ consisting of 10-12 digits. The government’s idea is that this randomness will make it difficult for anybody to guess a person’s number.

“It is purely for administrative convenience, and is not meant to be an identity card,” Praveen clarified.

What does Makkal ID do?

> It manages the data of state’s residents in a digitised, centralised, and secure manner.

> It incorporates Aadhar authentication into various departments.

> It identifies if a person is eligible for a scheme, but is not a beneficiary of it.

> Combined with all the other state department databases, the SFDB would also become a 360-degree profile of Tamil Nadu residents.

> If a person brings any identity card to any office, that card shall be used to find the person within any database of any department in Tamil Nadu.

According to the tender floated by the government, the existing core database available with the state government is that of the Public Distribution System (PDS). It contains demographic details about around seven crore residents in Tamil Nadu. Further, each department has their own database. The multiple databases shall be compared against the PDS data and a Makkal ID will be assigned. This will facilitate data exchange across the databases.

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