People are Numbers

Aren’t we already ?

We are all just a series of numbers in this world.

In India for example, you can’t get anything done without your PAN (Permanent Account Number) which proves that you are a tax-resident of the country. Even Non-Resident Indians have to have a PAN if they have financial dealings in the country.

In Singapore it is the NRIC (National Registration Identity Card) number. Nothing can be done without that identification – whether you are a resident local or an expat working on an assignment for a couple of years.

Of course, you have the Passport and the Visa Numbers required when travelling overseas.

In India, things will get a bit more complicated when the Aadhar card issue is completed across the country. This is the equivalent of the NRIC, which is a photo identification card with basic data on oneself captured on the card in electronic form.

It is not clear which card will be required in what transaction – when one has to show the PAN card or the Aadhar card or both. Then we have the ration card for essential commodities which is used as address proof rather than for buying anything.

After all this, we have a series of numbers and passwords and electronic device verification code and what not. Life has become so complicated that a set of numbers govern our existence. Of course, this is the situation all around the world, so nothing special about India. The only point is that India likes multiple checks using different instruments that would be more or less serving the same purpose.

I have earlier written about the enormous strain caused by having to prove where one lives in India, especially when one does not have a permanent residence anywhere. If someone has a transferable job, his or her plight will be pathetic. There is no common agency which would ensure automatic and electronic address assignment once applied to. In Singapore, one can walk into the nearest police station and self-declare the change in address. Since penalties are heavy, no one takes the trouble of making a false declaration. The new address then automatically gets updated in a central address database which is shared across all the government departments, at least the government side is covered fully.

In India, one has to run from pillar to post to get one’s address changed. I have experienced multiple times.

So, in conclusion our life is defined by a series of ever-expanding numbers, password and one-time authentication codes and special codes sent to our mobile phone, et al. It is indeed a very difficult task to keep everything aligned, and sometimes the trauma caused by incorrect numbers is very painful.

Well, that is the way life has become and it would continue in this direction as our lives get more digitized.

Welcome to the nth generation of digital life, it is happening even in newly developing countries, get ready for tackling numbers.


Vijay Srinivasan
18th March 2012


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