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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Friday, October 2, 2015

8790 - Rahul Jacob: Why is Aadhaar stuck? - Business Standard

A see-saw battle between the arms of the state has held up a win-win solution
Rahul Jacob  |  New Delhi 

September 30, 2015 Last Updated at 21:44 I

Speaking in Bengaluru a couple of months ago, Sanjay Swamy and Shripati Acharya, both Silicon Valley returnees who worked on the Aadhaar project, were waxing hopeful about how Aadhaar having reached a critical mass, with the majority of the population enrolled, was set for takeoff. In addition to the more than 900 million enrolled, the cost of iris technology has dropped to a fraction of what it was when the project started.

 The two angel investors, who have a particular focus on social investing, said it was only a matter of time before more and more start-ups used the Aadhaar backbone to create services. "It's been structured for people to write applications on top of it from the get go. That's the only way you can unlock its potential," said Mr Acharya.

Mr Swamy was more effusive. "Aadhaar is not about catching the bad guy. It is about helping the good guy," he said, describing the "one and a half years of zero salary (working on the project) as the most enriching" of his career. To hear this discussion of a brave new world where medical records could be accessed through using an Aadhaar number, where the poor could be sure to get their pensions and next of kin benefits based on biometric identification and where digital lockers with digital university degrees could be created made one optimistic about better prospects for India's poor in the 21st century.

Less than a fortnight later, however, the Supreme Court issued an interim judgment limiting the use of Aadhaar only for the purposes of dealing with people seeking subsidies for fuel and foodgrain through the public food distribution system. Within weeks, entities ranging from the Election Commission to the ministry of rural development that oversees the rural income guarantee scheme were reportedly telling their officers to tread carefully in this minefield to avoid the risk of being in contempt of court. The most confusing lines from the judgment are these: "The Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene."

If daily reminders of how far behind India is of most developing countries were not bad enough, one of the more depressing aspects of being a business and economics journalist in India is that understanding, let alone explaining, how different arms of the government come to such puzzling conclusions is so difficult. What is one to make, for example, of Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh citing studies that support "yogic farming" techniques whereby "every day farmers should give vibrations of peace, love and divinity to seeds"? This would be comic if the country was not tackling drought in many areas and a persistent crisis in agricultural productivity. Then there is Arvind Kejriwal who in the midst of a dengue epidemic is on the radio everyday to tell Delhi's citizens that he has instructed hospitals not to turn patients away and, for good measure, that he is fervently praying that none of our family members contract dengue? Wouldn't it be more useful to repeatedly remind everyone that wearing long-sleeved clothing and using insect repellent is a good way to combat the spread of dengue? How in a country where every other parent aspires that their children become doctors or engineers - Mr Kejriwal went to IIT Kharagpur - did we become so unscientific?

Most would agree with the court that Aadhaar need not be mandatory to open a bank account or avail of government benefits, though even there, with the more than 900 million already enrolled, this is a matter for debate. If we are not to use biometrics to plug the leakages that leave so many of our very poor effectively outside the country's inadequate social benefits systems, what is the alternative? Should the government be pressed not to issue permanent account number cards as these too could be misused?

Surely it would be better for the government to urgently put in place a privacy law than argue illogically that there is no right to privacy in India. Even in an inquisitive country in which everyone from employers to fellow travellers in a railway compartment believe it is their duty to enquire about your marital status and religion, privacy ought to be a fundamental right. Directing the government to publicise that Aadhaar is not mandatory is fine, along with advertising that when Aadhaar is used for authentication purposes, the system "knows that an authentication was done but not the purpose for which it was done," as Nandan Nilekani, the architect of Aadhaar, explained in The Indian Express a fortnight ago. In addition, when a "Know Your Customer" is done using Aadhaar, the information stays within the banking system. Ultimately, citizens and governments would vote with their feet if allowed to do so. Jharkhand is among the first states seeking a modification of the court order to monitor its welfare schemes, according to a report in The Economic Times. More are likely to join.

Last year, while on a visit to Bengaluru, I watched with amazement as the screen lit up with new accounts being opened by casual labourers at kirana stores across the country late into the night. I was in the offices of Novopay which uses micro ATMs at kirana stores and the Aadhaar backbone to rapidly increase financial inclusion. It has helped open 60,000 accounts thus far, which its head, Shrikant Nadhamuni, believes will multiply as more partner banks have joined the effort. Yesterday, I asked Mr Nadhamuni if this drive had been affected by the Supreme Court's interim judgment. His answer was that none of the partner banks had directed Novopay to make any changes to its modus operandi. Had any of the poor who had access to bank accounts expressed concerns about privacy? "None," he replied. "Their key problem is access to banking and remitting money to their families."