uid

When I opposed Aadhaar in 2010 , I was called a BJP stooge. In 2016 I am still opposing Aadhaar for the same reasons and I am told I am a Congress die hard. No one wants to see why I oppose Aadhaar as it is too difficult. Plus Aadhaar is FREE so why not get one ? Ram Krishnaswamy

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. -Mahatma Gandhi

In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place. Mahatma Gandhi

“The invasion of privacy is of no consequence because privacy is not a fundamental right and has no meaning under Article 21. The right to privacy is not a guaranteed under the constitution, because privacy is not a fundamental right.” Article 21 of the Indian constitution refers to the right to life and liberty -Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi

“There is merit in the complaints. You are unwittingly allowing snooping, harassment and commercial exploitation. The information about an individual obtained by the UIDAI while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a court for the purpose of criminal investigation.” -A three judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar said in an interim order.

Legal scholar Usha Ramanathan describes UID as an inverse of sunshine laws like the Right to Information. While the RTI makes the state transparent to the citizen, the UID does the inverse: it makes the citizen transparent to the state, she says.

Good idea gone bad
I have written earlier that UID/Aadhaar was a poorly designed, unreliable and expensive solution to the really good idea of providing national identification for over a billion Indians. My petition contends that UID in its current form violates the right to privacy of a citizen, guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is because sensitive biometric and demographic information of citizens are with enrolment agencies, registrars and sub-registrars who have no legal liability for any misuse of this data. This petition has opened up the larger discussion on privacy rights for Indians. The current Article 21 interpretation by the Supreme Court was done decades ago, before the advent of internet and today’s technology and all the new privacy challenges that have arisen as a consequence.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP Rajya Sabha

“What is Aadhaar? There is enormous confusion. That Aadhaar will identify people who are entitled for subsidy. No. Aadhaar doesn’t determine who is eligible and who isn’t,” Jairam Ramesh

But Aadhaar has been mythologised during the previous government by its creators into some technology super force that will transform governance in a miraculous manner. I even read an article recently that compared Aadhaar to some revolution and quoted a 1930s historian, Will Durant. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha MP

“I know you will say that it is not mandatory. But, it is compulsorily mandatorily voluntary,” Jairam Ramesh, Rajya Saba April 2017


Special

Here is what the Parliament Standing Committee on Finance, which examined the draft N I A Bill said.

1. There is no feasibility study of the project]

2. The project was approved in haste

3. The system has far-reaching consequences for national security

4. The project is directionless with no clarity of purpose

5. It is built on unreliable and untested technology

6. The exercise becomes futile in case the project does not continue beyond the present number of 200 million enrolments

7. There is lack of coordination and difference of views between various departments and ministries of government on the project

Quotes

What was said before the elections:

NPR & UID aiding Aliens – Narendra Modi

"I don't agree to Nandan Nilekeni and his madcap (UID) scheme which he is trying to promote," Senior BJP Leader Yashwant Sinha, Sept 2012

"All we have to show for the hundreds of thousands of crore spent on Aadhar is a Congress ticket for Nilekani" Yashwant Sinha.(27/02/2014)

TV Mohandas Pai, former chief financial officer and head of human resources, tweeted: "selling his soul for power; made his money in the company wedded to meritocracy." Money Life Article

Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government - Home Minister Chidambaram

To refer to Aadhaar as an anti corruption tool despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary is mystifying. That it is now officially a Rs.50,000 Crores solution searching for an explanation is also without any doubt. -- Statement by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP & Member, Standing Committee on Finance

Finance minister P Chidambaram’s statement, in an exit interview to this newspaper, that Aadhaar needs to be re-thought completely is probably the last nail in its coffin. :-) Financial Express

The Rural Development Ministry headed by Jairam Ramesh created a road Block and refused to make Aadhaar mandatory for making wage payment to people enrolled under the world’s largest social security scheme NRGA unless all residents are covered.


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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

8752 - Digital tools vs analogue mind - Live Mint

Last Modified: Fri, Sep 25 2015. 01 29 AM IST


It may be a good idea for the government to think of investing in a manner that ensures that the existing system works and, to make them work, use all possible digital tools

Osama Manzar

Even in the era of digitization and e-governance and automation, our mindset is the same as before. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

We are a country where we love hardware more than software. Let me explain. Whenever there is a need to construct a building—whether an office, panchayat bhavan, community centre, health centre, anganwadi, school or even a toilet—where there is a chance of tendering involving the purchase of things, we are extremely quick and efficient. Perhaps that allows money to change hands and keep the pockets warm of people who are at the helm of things.

But we fail comprehensively when it comes to matters such as how to use such infrastructure, how to integrate it with software, how to train human resources to manage and run the infrastructure and how to monitor them either by automation software or by applied systems.

Go to any government building, whether in a town or a village, and you will see that the building was sanctioned and built quite quickly and inaugurated with pomp by a minister or a political celebrity. But their upkeep and usage is always in question. We lack either in hiring the right people or right number of people and, even if we have adequate human resources, they are not trained, not motivated and do not have a sense of responsibility or accountability. We have developed a great system of looking at each and every occasion of spending public money as an opportunity to use the situation to benefit ourselves without committing to work.

I was travelling recently across various parts of the hinterland. I got tired of taking pictures of diverse government infrastructure, imposing, non-imposing, dilapidated, unmaintained, closed, locked, partly opened, manned by sleeping men and often unmanned. And the situation is not only with brick-and-mortar stuff, but also with digital stuff. In government schools, there are hundreds and thousands of computers lying unused, never opened, and in a majority of the places, especially in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, completely untouched.

Asking the school kids and teachers would reveal that either the school does not have computer teachers or the principal does not allow computers to be switched on because they fear that if something goes wrong with the computers, they may be held accountable. It is better, therefore, for the school staff to send in reports, month after month, that the computers or digital equipment are working fine.

Go next door to the panchayat bhavan; almost every one of them has been given computers and printers, but the entire digital infrastructure is kept clean, unused and beautifully covered by a colourful towel. Many of the panchayats have Internet connections, mostly through Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), but visit any of the Internet users in a village and you will find them complaining that their Internet connection has been mostly down.

Taking our own example, wherever we are working across 60 plus districts, and if we have a BSNL connection, we end up having non-working connectivity, and are pushed to using dongles for Internet access.

Moreover, in some places, we also provide Internet connectivity as a community service, and all those who were using BSNL have shifted to our community connectivity because of its reliability.

These days, the government has built Atal Seva Kendras (ASK); I am talking about the ones in Rajasthan, which earlier used to be named after Rajiv Gandhi. The ASK buildings have three rooms—a computer room, a village councillor room and a meeting room. The entire building is solar-powered. I would like to invite all of you to please visit and tell me how many of them you find open or working or used or functional.

The question is, why did we spend so much money for new buildings if panchayat buildings were already in existence and why not spend money on making sure that the buildings are used, monitored for usage and there is a real-time update of their efficacy?

Last week, I was in Telangana, where they use Photoshop for editing Aadhaar cards. If you have an Aadhaar card and you are still not old enough to avail pension or post-retirement entitlements, don’t worry, the local fixer is fully digitally enabled. They will scan your Aadhaar card and change your age in Photoshop so that you can apply for all those entitlements.
The question is, why is the entire database of Aadhaar not available to the departments offering entitlements? And who cross-checks eligibility and identity? Are we only interested in buying hardware and not in embedding the necessary process and software and change management training and capacity building?

Go to any of the community health centres in the villages; they look like they haven’t been used for ages. If at all some of them are in use, you will feel that your health will further deteriorate by going to any type of health centres at the panchayat or taluk level because of the poor quality of services available.
Again, we have no hesitation in buying and making infrastructure and putting buildings and equipment in place, but pay no attention to their usage.

The bottomline is that even in the era of digitization and e-governance and automation, our mindset is the same as before. We treat digital tools as pieces of stuff where buying them and budgeting for products are the only important things; making them work, integrating them with the required software and integrating them into a logical intelligence with trained experts are not necessary.

It may be a good idea for the government to think of investing in a manner that ensures that the existing system works and, to make them work, use all possible digital tools.

Osama Manzar is founder-director of Digital Empowerment Foundation and chair of Manthan and mBillionth awards. He serves on the board of World Summit Award and Association of Progressive Communication. He is co-author of NetCh@kra—15 Years of Internet in India & Internet Economy of India.
His Twitter handle is @osamamanzar