The very issue about the MNIS is a serious one and needs analysis from every single angle before just stating that we should or not go for a new card with biometric data stored on a chipset. I just want by giving my views, to add my pinch of salt to this already passionate debate. Issues about the undemocratic aspect of the use of biometric data on the card have been well explored and exposed and from my point of view, the State has failed in refuting that particular aspect. In an open letter sent to Members of Parliament, Rezistans ek Alternativ rightly ended in stating that “You have been elected by the people to serve the people and listen to their concerns and not consciously or unconsciously jeopardise their freedom, protection and their right to privacy.”  
Should there not have been public consultation before asking the people to hand over private information about themselves to government? How far are the people going to take their new cards aware, by giving away their fingerprints, of the implications? Should not a nation pretending to “…rapidly moving into a new age of technological improvement…” (quoted from www.mnic.mu) be equally intelligent with well-informed citizens? Can the Government honestly affirm that healthy public debates have taken place enough to allow the State to take a consensual decision? Amendments to The National Identity Card Act dates back to 2009. This can only mean one thing; plans (which I consider as being totalitarian ones) were being erected by that time to get to where we are now. Criminalising citizens who refuse with legitimacy to give away their private data can only exist in a dictatorship.
From my part, I consider it to be important to look up at the matter from a philosophical point of view, “re-designing Mauritian society, citizen’s freedom, privacy, personal and civil liberties” as rightly stated by Rezistans ek Alternativ in the open letter, is definitely one of it. This philosophical breakthrough in the debate raises the very question of human rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 and is the direct consequence of what happened some few years back, the Second World War. It was as if waking up from 6 years of extreme barbarian crystallization, the World was saying in unison ‘Never Again’. To what were we as human saying never again to? Never again to discriminatory rights, because we shall be born equal and treated equally in regards of the law. Never again to attempt to human rights as defined by the Declaration. The second article from the Declaration says : “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”. At this stage we need to ask ourselves, what really happened between 1939 and 1945?
The Nazi Legacy
In his Mein Kampf Manifesto, Adolf Hitler stated that the Aryan people are the founders of culture, thus (for him), superior in mankind hierarchy. The Nazi regime ranged therefore, mankind from ‘Pure Aryan’ to ‘Non-Aryan’, the latter also called subhuman category. The ideology was to therefore allow the ‘superior race’ to reconstitute itself and occupy the place that ‘naturally’ should be his. Non-Aryans and others, whose condition or status would ‘obstruct’ the right work of nature to take place, were simply vow to be exterminated
–    Some 6,000,000 Jews
–    Between 200,000 and 500,000 gypsies
–    Some 275,000 physically and mentally ill persons
–    Between 5,000 to 15,000 homosexuals
–    Some 500,000 comprising of Slavs, black people and political opponents
What has biometric data implemented on a chipset has to do with what happened in Europe some 70 years back?
Technology…
In a book published in 2001, IBM and the Holocaust, journalist Edwin Black explains how the Nazi regime in 1933 conducted a census to categorize the people with the help of the US based company IBM. The said company then equipped the Nazi regime with punch cards that recorded sensitive data and reading machines for it. These machines were well distributed around Germany enough to have every citizen controlled and though citizens could fool administration in falsifying forms they had to fill for some purposes, they could never fool the machines because the technology used was sharp enough to encompass maximum information in a such viable manner, as the Reich needed them to be.
« Since the advent of the Third Reich, thousands of Jews nervously assumed they could hide from the Aryan clause. « But Jews could not hide from millions of punch cards thudding through Hollerith machines, comparing names across generations, address changes across regions, family trees and personal data across unending registries. It did not matter that the required forms or questionnaires were filled in by leaking pens and barely sharpened pencils, only that they were later tabulated and sorted by IBM’s precision technology…” (IBM and the Holocaust)
What’s in for us?
Getting to Mauritius, in the open letter of Rezistans ek Alternativ a crucial point is raised about how biometric data can be interpreted by law ‘The National Identity law defines “biometric information”, in relation to an individual, means data about his external characteristics, including his fingerprints” (2) . The law does not even restrict biometric information to fingerprint. It is left open, to wide interpretations.’ This means that DNA can also be an element requested in the future by MNIC. DNA means also the genetic history of every living being. From it can be deducted from which part of the world or different parts of the world someone is originated from. Mauritius being a young country of settlement, the origins issue is highly sensitive. We are yet to overcome ‘communal’, racial and cast cleavage to become a nation.  The pre-independence racial conflict that took place in Mauritius should remind us of this. Closer to us, the 1999 riots, following Kaya’s death with in background communal tension should remind us of this. The very presence of communal denomination in our constitution and the passionate debate around orchestrated by Rezistans ek Alternativ is still here to remind us about this. We must not fool ourselves by not recognizing communal forces who are lobbying politics to ensure communal hegemony in certain ‘affairs’ of this country and there is a name for it ‘Fascism’ just as the Nazi Regime was. Now, just imagine Mauritius under a pro-fascist regime with that DNA equipped card…
Paranoia you are thinking? Incidents that happened in March 2010 in Triolet during a religious ceremony and the will of some ‘fundamentalists’ for an anti-conversion law in Mauritius is no fiction. We know as well that some of those ‘groupuscules’ are close to some members of parliamentary parties and are even investing strategic position in state institutions. We can always argue saying that fingerprint is no DNA, but again the floodgate left open by referring to ‘biometric information’ without restraining it to fingerprint is by far too dangerous to be acceptable.
Fingerprints…
I’ve heard some arguments about, why so much fuss about fingerprints, if you are a law abiding citizen, then why so much fear? What’s a law abiding citizen? One who, from birth to death walks on the right path of the law? One who does not hold and express diverging opinion on government and Head of State? It is easy to say so for those who have never encountered any trouble with the Police, because their lives are in a hamlet of peace where the police uniform is not even known. It is easy to say for those whose surroundings are flooded with high calibre lawyers spending their times looking for loopholes in the law to allow affairs to be carried out the most ‘law abiding’ way possible. But go tell that to the poor street hawker who is only guilty of struggling to earn a living by selling things on the road without a permit that the authority is refusing him/her. Go tell that to the divergent opinion holder who dares express him/herself and who needs to face, each time he/she hit the road, SSU, NSS & co. Go tell that to the ‘Wrongfully Convicted’ of the Amicale case revealed by Rama Valayden and go tell that to the poor guy born unlucky in some high rate criminality Port Louis suburb.
The very identification of law and supposedly non-law abiding citizen does not make sense if not measured with determinants of crime (common law crimes)? Hugues Lagrange, a French sociologist and researcher for the CNRS (Centre national de la Recherche scientifique) links crime to inflation and further links violent delinquency to unemployment and he states that violent delinquency is much more prominent in poor urban region than in richer ones. This leaves us with a serious problematic, if saying that criminal actions come under personal choices (to which I am not categorically agreeable), then can we say the same thing regarding poverty and precariousness? Moreover, figures from Statistics Mauritius clearly shows that the Gini Coefficient (income repartition) is increasing in Mauritius, from 0.388 in 2006/2007 to 0.413 in 2012, meaning that class inequality is increasing. Relative poverty, again from Statistics Mauritius figures, has increased by 1.5% from 2006/2007 to 2012. If we consider that repartition of income is done between employers and labour force principally and that the latter represents logically a massive proportion of the population, then we can easily conclude that poverty is objectively increasing in Mauritius. Does this explain increasing criminality rate in Mauritius? Yes according to Lagrange theory.
Just imagine now the prejudice on the supposedly non-law abiding citizens when they need to carry in their every life ‘proof’ of their guilt which is only a consequence of their social condition. Imagine now that lobby is being made by ‘law abiding’ citizens and ‘moral advocates’ (we’ve got a bunch of that in Mauritius and often they are the ones with pro-fascists ideology) to confine non-law abiding citizens in certain areas and refuse them access to some others? Do we really want to create a segregated nation with highly sophisticated tools, as the biometric data card is, to monitor this segregation?
Pretending security issues by use of biometric data is highly dangerous, instead the State should tackle the security problem at the root and this is a systemic problem.  
Actually there are many more drifting possible from the actual proposed card and displaying them can easily lead to a non-exhaustive list. The real question from my point of view should not be ‘why are people against the use of biometric data in the new ID card?’ but ; are we ready to let go of our right to freedom for the sake of abstract security reasons in the name of “rapidly moving into a new age of technological improvement…”? Personally I am not.
I am not against a new ID card in replacement of the existing one which shall allow the government to do his work better. Moreover, alleviation of poverty forms part of a government’s work; decreasing disparity and social inequalities is yet another one of government’s works ; Nation building ; Social integration by ensuring decent work and decent living standard. Resolving those very essential issues will automatically shape a healthier society which will not necessitate high security measures with whatsoever card at disproportionate cost for supposedly security purposes.