'Centralised voter management a must for India'

Putting in place a centralized voter management system can help eliminate distortions arising out of the political economy that has muddied voter registrations, says a new book co-authored by technocrat Nandan Nilekani.

 In the book penned by him and Viral Shah, his colleague when he headed the Unique Identification Authority of India UIDAI, they have also pitched for widespread adoption of electronic payment systems.

The suggestions have been made in the book titled 'Rebooting India - Realizing a Billion Aspirations'.

According to Nilekani and Shah, when a bank account and mobile phone connection can move with a person from one city to another, it is only fair to expect that a voter ID should be able to do so as well.

"By imposing geographical constraints on the ability to vote, we are in effect denying people their fundamental right as citizens of a representative democracy. To address these issues, we propose the creation of a centralised voter management system..., "the book said.

With a single, centralised voter enrolment system running the same multilingual software across the country, the authors said there would be no incentive for "distortions, biases and fraud, eliminating the entire political economy that has muddied voter registration".

When there is already a centralised system capable of storing Aadhaar data of 1.2 billion Indians, there is no reason why a similar system can't be built for voter ID data, they pointed out.

According to them, the only way to bridge the last-mile gap will be through the widespread adoption of electronic payment systems.

The government must be the initial driver, using the heft and reach of its social security schemes to drive the adoption of an electronic payments model, they noted.

"We envision electronic payments as the first step on the ladder of financial inclusion," Nilekani and Shah said.

As per the book, the country's problems need to be fixed at a great speed, at scale, with high quality while providing solutions that are easy to access, independent of geography and low-cost.

"Technology, the great leveller, is our only hope of meeting these goals," it said.