Biometric ID Cards Ahoy!
India is introducing biometric identity cards to keep tabs on the country’s rapidly growing number of seafarers.
Recent years have seen an unprecedented 43% increase in the number of seafarers in India, from 108,446 in 2013 to 154,349 in 2018. And India, according to the International Chamber of Shipping, is currently the world’s third-biggest supplier of seafaring officers.
This vigorous growth follows various policy changes brought in by the Indian government between 2014 and 2018, including the lifting of bans on the introduction of new training courses and the opening of new maritime training institutes.
The new ID cards, dubbed Biometric Seafarer Identity Documents, will use facial biometric recognition technology and come with two optical security features: micro prints/micro texts and a unique guilloche pattern.
Each of India’s approximately 350,000 seafarers who hold a valid Continuous Discharge Certificate are eligible for the new BSID, which will be rolled out over the next two years.
The cards will carry an inbuilt chip that can be read at point-of-sale readers and ATMs and by immigration officers with the right gear.
To make the cards, data will be captured to create a map of the seafarer’s face, which will then be cross-matched with their passport photo using software designed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in Mumbai. The information captured will be fed into a national database, which will be accessible worldwide.
Indian minister of shipping Mansukh Lal Mandaviya said: “The new document will give a foolproof identification to our seafarers which will facilitate their movement, provide ease of getting jobs and help in identifying them from any location in the world.”
Eight centers have been sent up in coastal locations around the country at Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Goa, New Mangalore, Kochi, Vizag and Kandla to issue the cards. A ninth center has also been established in Noida, which lies roughly 1,000 km inland near New Delhi.