Our War on IDs

The various ID cards and the processes to obtain/re-obtain those IDs have intruded into our private lives like nothing else before. Becoming an ID-free man seems to me to be the true path to real freedom. We must remember that the first Satyagraha that Gandhi waged was against ID cards for Indians in South Africa.

I don’t have the courage of Gandhi to go to jail refusing to take IDs, or to go to jail again after burning them. But I am happy to see that I have found a few partners to nudge me along in this journey towards freedom.

During another bus trip yesterday, my purse was picked again. Voter’s ID gone this time. Another good soul had relieved me of my Driving Licence and PAN Card a few months ago.

My repeated compromise with the capitalistic forces in carrying credit/debit cards is also challenged by these partners. As for that anti-national cash, “What kind of Gandian are you? Why are you having any more cash than what is needed for the bus fare?” chided an elderly Gandhian yesterday after I got off the bus, straight after losing the purse.

To my unknown partners: With my jolna bag & dothi, reading a book/kindle on the bus, and a prominent absent-minded look, I am not difficult to spot in any crowd. I am now left with my passport and the most offensive of them all – Aadhar. If my wife permits, from now on, I am intending to carry them in my wallet, which I usually keep in my jolna bag.

But I suspect if she will allow me to even carry a wallet now. I have to somehow convince her that my right to a purse and right to privacy are now inseparably intertwined.

As a first step towards ensuring that she harbours no ill-will towards my partners, I just showed her this quote from Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut, which I picked up for Rs.30 at Ukkadam Bus Stand, while waiting for a bus.

“While there is a lower class I am in it. While there is a criminal element I am of it. While there is a soul in prison I am not free.”


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