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.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

8837 - Jayant Sinha explains: Govt roadmap on financial inclusion - Money Control

Oct 05, 2015, 10.42 PM | Source: CNBC-TV18 

Jayant Sinha explains: Govt roadmap on financial inclusion 

In an interaction with CNBC-TV18's Shereen Bhan, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha outlined the various steps the government has taken to boost financial inclusion in the country, including the ambitious Jan Dhan Yojana Plan. He also explained what are the government's targets going forward.



In an interaction with CNBC-TV18's Shereen Bhan, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha outlined the various steps the government has taken to boost financial inclusion in the country, including the ambitious Jan Dhan Yojana Plan. He also explained what are the government's targets going forward. While the interview was being conducted, news also came in about the US sealing a historic free trade agreement with 12 Pacific countries. The minister also outlined his views on the development, and the implications for India. Below is the transcript of the interview on CNBC-TV18. Q: How do you view the free trade agreement signed by the Pacific countries? A: All of the countries that have signed, it is a very important step forward in the United States. It has taken them a long time to be able to overcome the barriers. So, it is s very important step forward for the global economy. For India we have to think very carefully about these multilateral trading agreements. As you correctly point out it is not so much the WTO where multilateral trading set of arrangements is being created but much more these other arrangements that are being put together. As you know the chief economic advisor has been tasked right now to look into all of these different trading blocks and to see what should be India's position and how we should position ourselves relative to the trading blocks that are emerging. Q: Do you feel that this in a way will sideline India? I also ask you this in the context of what is happening with the India-EU FTA. Talks there have been derailed. There is hope now in the air after the Prime Minister has met Chancellor Angela Merkel today and you have spent a greater part of your day with her as well, is there a possibility that we are likely to see a revival as far as India-EU FTA talks are concerned? As we head into these agreements is the space for India going to shrink? A: There is space for India in these trading arrangements, there is tremendous goodwill for India and a real recognition that India is going to be one of the key contributors to global growth and for opportunity creation around the world. So, everybody would like India to be part of these trading arrangements. What we need to do on our end is to understand how we have to work through over time - the various trading arrangements that exists which ones we have to prioritise and how we participate in that. As I said earlier that is the task that the chief economic advisor [Arvind Subramanian] is engaged in right now. He is actually one of the world's most eminent trade economists. So, we are very much looking forward there to his report on this matter in terms of how we should engage with these different trading blocs. Q: How soon do you expect that report? A: I am not sure, I will have to check with him but it is something that is being done on an accelerated basis. Q: Let me now talk to you about the financial inclusion agenda and we spent a greater part of the evening talking about what the government has been able to achieve both in terms of the Jan Dhan programme and the number of unbanked individuals that you have been able to bring into the banking sector. I know you have put this machinery and the might of the state behind being able to achieve the kind of targets that you have set out for yourself. Over 18 crore bank accounts have already been opened, what is the target from hereon? I am sure the target is equally ambitious? A: Our target was to ensure that every single Indian family has access to a bank account. We have achieved that target, we have gone through and we have spoken through various different mechanisms to virtually all families that we can identify. I myself for instance much more on an anecdotal level whenever I have a public meeting, I always ask people if they have a bank account and virtually everybody says that they do have a bank account. So, in that sense we have achieved the goal of universal bank accounts that we had set ourselves to do which is extraordinary. Of course around the world this is being recognised as one of the most remarkable feats when it comes to financial inclusion. So, we are very happy to have achieved that goal. Where we need to go now is to really expand the nature of financial inclusion. There are multiple areas that we are working on. First, we want to make sure that when it comes to life insurance we are able to through Suraksha Bima which is just Rs 12 a year or the Jeevan Jyoti Bima which is Rs 330 a year. So, that every wage earner or every person that is generating wealth or generating income for the family is covered. So, insurance is the next step after that. Then the step that we go to beyond insurance is on payments. So, all central government payments are going to go through the Jan Dhan accounts. We have already done that with LPG with more than 12 crore people now receiving their LPG subsidies. Then we are going to go into NREGA and on to scholarships and all the various central government programmes. Q: Speaking of transformational change and your basing your entire model on what you call the JAM trinity i.e. the Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and mobile. Let me ask you specifically as far as Aadhaar is concerned. Is the government contemplating now reviving the constitutional bill as far as Aadhaar is concerned because this matter ends up in courts practically every other day on whether the Aadhaar can be made mandatory or not, the Supreme Court has said it cannot be made mandatory to avail of government services and so on and so forth. Where do things currently stand because you have clearly decided to adopt Aadhaar but constitutional validity, is it something that government is looking at? A: That is a very good question and all of us that are dealing with financial inclusion recognise that it is very important to have clarity on this matter and there are two ways of dealing with that. One is judicial. We have already filed with the Supreme Court and a number of government agencies including SEBI and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and others are in the Supreme Court right now to clarify exactly how Aadhaar can be used and not used and so on. So, there is a judicial resolution of this matter that might be possible. We are also considering legislative resolution of these matters and there have been a lot of discussions on how exactly to get a legislative solution for the problem that we are facing right now for the use of Aadhaar. So, obviously we have pushed the executive side as far as we possibly could. Q: But legislative side? A: No, the legislative side is what we are going to try now. As I said from an executive perspective which is how the UPA was effectively doing it and how we tried to do it so far is to push it as far as we can but now we have got to make sure we get a judicial resolution if we can and if that is sufficient then that is good enough, and if that is not sufficient then we have to go to the legislative side as well. So, that is essentially how we are trying tackle the Aadhaar matter. Q: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor surprised most of us with a 50 basis point cut. We have already seen most banks transmit at least part of what was already passed on by RBI. Are you happy with the transmission that has already happened? A: We have to do more as far as transmission is concerned. Clearly the RBI having cut a 125 basis points we have not seen a sufficient transmission as we would have all liked to have seen. There are three or four factors that come into play here. One is that many of the banks will tell you that when RBI was raising they did not raise as much as the RBI did and so they don\\'t need to bring it down as much. So, that is one factor. The second factor which we all know about is the small savings rate. There has been a lot of discussion about how to align those better with the repo rate, with other rates that are in the marketplace, that is the second factor. Third factor as we all recognise is the reality of the balance sheets and profitability of the banks themselves. Particularly those banks that have low NIMs use this opportunity to some extent to repair their balance sheets, to strengthen their networth and so on. So, that is the third factor that has to be considered. Fourth factor which RBI has been talking about is this whole question of do you price on the margin or not. How is the base rate actually set. So, the methodology of setting the base rate which will then result in a more efficient transmission is also being considered. So, these are all the four factors that impact how monetary transmission happens and on all of those fronts we are working hard to ensure that markets work efficiently and quickly in this regard. Q: RBI governor said that one of the key impediments as far as monetary transmission was the small savings rate. The Finance Minister has also said that the government is in consultation with the RBI looking at reviewing the framework of small savings. Today we had your entire team at North Block talking about the possibility of that review and it seems like it is a politically sensitive issue or politically sensitive subject, so no timelines have been given as far as what we can expect in terms of the small savings rate review. It is very clear that certain schemes and certain constituencies will be exempt from whatever review the government does decide to do. What is the thinking, what is the possible timeline? A: My joke on this is that people have been looking for the rate cut in the wrong place. Maybe the rate cut should be on the other side. There are a lot of people that are dependent on income from the small saving schemes. It is a very important aspect of their lives. So, we have to make sure that we consider it in a way that is equitable, that is fair and that is inline with what people expectations are. So, we are working through that, let us see how that evolves. Q: You won't give us a sense of when we can expect that review? A: If I wanted to do it I wouldn’t be doing it on this programme. Q: You were the man and the brain behind the government's Indradhanush programme. Really as we look at this audience and bankers here who clearly want to their part as far as the financial inclusion agenda is concerned but banks as we know are stressed at this point in time and stressed because of loans that have been taken by corporate and those loans have now turned into NPAs. Do you believe that the current situation with the Indian banking sector and a lot of these issues while being resolved are yet to be addressed completely. Do you believe that they will be able to address the challenges and the opportunities of financial inclusion given the stresses nature of their balance sheets? A: Absolutely. You have to understand that the entire financial landscape is changing before our eyes and whether you look at what is happening with the technology disruption, mobile wallets, digital wallets, whether it is what is happening with payment banks now being licensed and being able to go out and offer banking products and services to customers and taking deposits or what we are doing with small banks where they will be able to become instead of just being MFIs, deposit taking institutions as well. The entire banking landscape itself is changing dramatically. So, we are enabling many new players, many different types of players to enter and provide financial services and that will ensure that there is a lot of competition for financial products and to be able to get to even the last person in the line and provide them access and convenience. So, we think that this new competitive landscape is going to force all banks whether it is private sector banks, whether it is payment banks or even the public sector banks to really raise their performance and their game and we back that up with the KPIs that we have developed for the banks. So, competition is really a spur to innovation and a spur to better performance and it really will ensure that our citizens, our consumers get the products and services that they deserve. So, even while we are doing that we are also strengthening the banks themselves and providing them with the capital so that they can heal and improve their balance sheets. So, obviously we are doing a lot of work on stalled projects and discom. We are trying to take the stress off those balance sheets at the same time while we are motivating them to go out and compete. Q: Since you talked about discoms, how soon are we likely to see the new debt recast plan? I understand that perhaps as early as this week we could perhaps see a decision by the cabinet on that front? A: We are working on it, you will know soon enough. Q: This is something that you told me when we last spoke and that was using the National Investment Infrastructure Fund or the NIIF to be able to deal with the issue of stressed assets. I know that the NIIF itself will be operational or will be launched in November, where do things currently stand on formulating the guidelines for the NIIF to actually alleviate the pain of stressed assets? A: We are making very good progress. We would like to launch not just one but multiple funds through the NIIF before the end of the year. The one on the very high priority funds that we would like to launch is the stressed assets fund because what is happening is as the banks themselves are going through the strategic debt restructuring and so on, they are ending up with equity in some cases, they are ending up with debt also that they may not want to hold. So we want to create enough capacity in the market to be able to take over the equity, take over the debt as required and again make it possible for the banks to be able to get those NPA off the books at a reasonable price with the restructuring and everything else. So, the NIIF is also a very important element of taking some of the stress off the banks.