smart cards: time for a smart dole?

a recent news report:
The Centre is finalising a proposal to use multi-application smart cards with unique IDs for citizens to check largescale illegal immigration and to better target and implement government schemes.
the smart cards can be used in other, much more important, ways too:
"The multi-purpose smart card will help in effective targeting of subsidies and better monitoring of programmes and ensure that fraudulent multiple claims are minimised. It will also help in checking illegal migration in the border areas," said an official.

The need for a multi-purpose national identity card has been felt for purposes as diverse as drawing benefits from government’s flagship schemes like NREGA, getting ration from PDS shops or meeting security concerns.
'effective targeting of subsidies and better monitoring of programmes'? i'd talked about how a straight forward dole would be much more effective than a hundred different varieties of elaborately devised poverty alleviation schemes in this post. and how poor the monitoring of programmes such as the nrega is, in these ( a, b, c) posts. and i'd talked here about how other developing countries like mexico are using variants of the dole to not just supplement the incomes of poor villagers- they're also using them to achieve better spread of education, and to improve women and child care etc., looks like the goi has learnt some important lessons- but has it learnt the most important one? a hundred different schemes run by a hundred different kind of central, state and local government agencies would always mean that the programmes could spring several thousand holes through which funds could leak. why not keep things simple?

why not stick to one smart programme, a dole, instead of making the poor try to prove their identity, their deprivation, their need to several authorities through several kinds of registration, documentation, endorsement and verification, every time a government, at any random level, develops doubts about a certain programme or wants to a introduce new scheme-scam to further its own electoral or other interests? in this context, i'd like to express my agreement with the indian communists- they have always fought against targeting. i've different reasons for endorsing universalization- one smart universal scheme, i believe, would be more effective than several poorly targeted, and even more poorly monitored schemes. one smart scheme, i'm sure, would eliminate the need for all the other schemes. a dole for every rural family could be used to achieve much more than a small reduction in current levels of poverty. as i'd tried to point out in this post, it could also be used to ward off future poverty.

john elliot, writing here, discusses the smart cards too.

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