e-Topia: China, India and Biometric Borders

Led by Åshild Kolås
Jan 2020 - Jun 2024

​How is e-governance and the Internet of Things (IoT) changing the everyday lives of the people of India and China, and how are these multifaceted changes affecting international relations?

This project studies Indian and Chinese approaches to the digitalization of governance and society, and how Indian and Chinese policymakers and corporations balance conflicting goals of cyber sovereignty and digital standardization. 

World Map and Fingerprint
World Map and Fingerprint
Photo: Gordon Johnson / Pixabay

The title ‘e-Topia’, refers to the place of the digital in visions of the future. Despite their differences, India and China both have “e-Topian” ambitions of harnessing “smart” solutions to revolutionize governance, services and a range of industries, while digitalization drives economic growth. Travel between India and China is on the rise, although their high-altitude border remains unresolved. 

As the Asian contribution to the “smart technology” market continues to grow, the relationship between India and China is increasingly dependent on the compatibility of their digitalization efforts. China’s Belt and Road initiative seeks to open up new transportation routes between China and South Asia, which requires new thinking about the use of electronic passports. As China and India expand the use of biometric data registration and Unique IDs in their digitalization schemes, biometric borders are where the “e-Topian” futures of India and China will meet.

This project is funded by the Foreign Policy programme of the Research Council of Norway.

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