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.

August 24, 2017: The nine-judge Constitution Bench rules that right to privacy is “intrinsic to life and liberty” and is inherently protected under the various fundamental freedoms enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the World; indeed it's the only thing that ever has"

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” - Edward Snowden

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.


Monday, October 5, 2015

8821 - Debashis Basu: Sebi and black money - Business Standard




On September 30, when the window for black money declaration closed, the total disclosures amounted to only Rs 3,770 crore. Only 60 per cent of this money, or just Rs 2,262 crore, will go into the government's coffers. What can Prime Minister Narendra Modi do to make the scheme work? I believe he has to get his team to review the role of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) in plugging one of the biggest ways in which black money is laundered into snow-white tax-free income. The funny thing is, the government knows all about this - it is what the market calls black-ka-white schemes. Take a look at this shocking information.

A couple of months ago, Shaktikanta Das, then revenue secretary, wrote a 'Secret' letter to the Sebi chairman, informing him that an "investigation carried out by the Income Tax Department (ITD) shows that regulated securities/ commodities market mechanism has been misused for large scale systematic tax evasion and round tripping of unaccounted funds... to generate fictitious Long term capital Gain (LTCG)". It further said, "Such rampant manipulations call for concerted and coordinated action by the agencies concerned. Sebi's proactive role in the above context is crucial."

It is surprising that the regulator needed to be goaded and pushed in this manner. After all, Sebi should have been on top of this issue on its own. My magazine has been openly writing about this black-ka-white scheme for years. Also, Sebi had grandly claimed in December 2014 and again in April 2015 that it has busted schemes that misuse the stockmarket platform for money-laundering. Obviously, what Sebi claimed as a huge crackdown on those two occasions, hardly scratched the surface.

Indeed, in his letter to the Sebi chairman, Mr Das writes "the Investigation Directorates of Ahmedabad and Kolkata have already shared findings of their investigation in the bogus LTCG cases with Sebi with a request to take further necessary action against the unscrupulous share brokers/entities who have misused the stock market. Copies of letters dated 25-08-2014, 10-02-2015, 08-06-2015, and 23-06-2015 from Ahmedabad Investigation Directorate and letter dated 27-04-2015 from the Kolkata Investigation Directorate." Note that the first letter was a year old. Mr Das then informs the Sebi chairman that Central Board of Direct Taxes is also in receipt of ad interim orders passed by Sebi so far (seven cases) in connection with the bogus LTCG racket. These orders were passed on to the relevant Investigation Directorates of ITD for taking necessary action against the beneficiaries.

Then comes the bombshell, although couched in polite bureaucratese. Mr Das writes: "Investigations conducted by ITD in the transactions of the aforesaid nature could not bear the desired fruits inter alia for the reasons that in most of such transactions the regulators concerned such as Sebi did not record any adverse finding qua such transactions. Judicial authorities have held that unless the corporate veil is lifted, onus on revenue is not discharged. The action taken by Sebi in such cases unravelling the facade is of critical importance, in these cases for effective handling of menace of bogus LTCG."

We do not know why Sebi "did not record any adverse finding". All we know is that in mid-2013, the earlier government with P Chidambaram as the finance minister had granted draconian powers to Sebi under which it can enter and search buildings, places, vessels, vehicles and aircraft of defaulters. Its officers can break open the lock of any door, box, locker, safe almirah, etc to get information. It can ask for information or records from any person, banks, authorities, boards or corporation. It has the powers of search and seizure, attachment of properties and arrest and detention of defaulters, as well as pass disgorgement directions. Finally, the government has also allowed the market regulator to seek information from other regulators within India and abroad with retrospective effect, going as far back as 1998.

And yet, Mr Das had to remind U K Sinha, Sebi chairman, to tear down the corporate veil. He also had to remind him to take "necessary action in the 84 scrips identified by the Kolkata Investigation Directorate". While Sebi has twice invested in highly sophisticated and expensive market surveillance software, the finance ministry had to tell Sebi to devise a "mechanism to raise triggers on this kind of suspicious trading on real time basis… so that preventive action could be taken before laundering takes place." Mr Das ends his letter with a reminder that the "income-tax Act, 1961, prescribes time limits within which assessments can be completed and tax demands can be raised. Therefore, timely action from Sebi in such cases would help in ensuring appropriate actions by the Income Tax authorities. Sebi may take note of violations of KYC norms by the stock brokers for further appropriate action."

Tax experts tell me that black money generation will slowly die down if that money can't be laundered. Today, the single most popular route of laundering is the stock market platform. If Mr Modi really wants to crack down on black money, he must take a close look at what Sebi has been up to - nobody is supervising the regulator at all.