Filming in India for Columbia U.
I just returned from a two-week shoot in India, directing three short films for a new on-line education initiative by Columbia University. I travelled with producer/cinematographer Richard Numeroff to Delhi, Chennai, rural Tamil Nadu, Bangalore and Mumbai, documenting eye-opening public policy initiatives in health, education and welfare. The most audacious of these is the Indian government’s push to scan the iris and all ten fingerprints of each of its 1.2 billion citizens, in order to give each person a unique ID number linked to his or her biometric data. One immediate benefit is that welfare benefits, which for years have been skimmed and stolen by corrupt civil servants who invent “ghost beneficiaries,” can now be deposited directly into new bank accounts for the poor, made possible by the biometric cards. 400 million Indians live in poverty, and most of them have neither a birth certificate nor any other formal proof of identity.