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

8843 - LPG subsidy transfer: Centre’s savings not more than Rs 143 cr, while it claims Rs 12,700 cr - Indian Express



The NDA initially reintroduced DBT for LPG in 54 districts in mid-November 2014, with nationwide roll out to all districts from January 2

The NDA initially reintroduced DBT for LPG in 54 districts in mid-November 2014.

A study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) states that the government’s claims of savings due to a shift towards direct benefit transfer (DBT) for LPG (also called PAHAL) are “large overestimates”. IISD has shown that as against the publicly touted figure of Rs12,700 crore of savings for the financial year 2014-15, the actual savings cannot exceed Rs 143 crore, or just 1.12 per cent of the claimed number.

“Our calculations suggest that the savings from DBTL in the last fiscal year are likely to be large overestimates. It is important that precise savings figures are presented by the government so that an accurate appraisal of DBTL as a policy can be made. This is especially important as DBT is now being considered as a way to deliver kerosene and food subsidies,” said Kieran Clarke, one of the three co-authors of the study, who is based in Geneva.

Since there is no official document that provides a clear estimates of the savings made by the shift, IISD chose the Rs12,700 crore number because it was being repeatedly attributed, by a direct quote, to chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian. 

The Indian Express has reviewed several news stories in Indian media that back up IISD’s claim. These include reports in The Indian Express as well. For instance, a news story that was published on July 3 in The Indian Express carried the following quote: “Based on sales and subsidy levels for 2014-15, savings of Rs 12,700 crore are estimated from DBT in LPG,” said Arvind Subramanian, chief economic adviser to the finance ministry on Thursday at a UNDP conference, adding that savings this fiscal are estimated at Rs 6,500 crore due to the lower crude oil prices.’

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However, when contacted, Subramanian directed this writer to a New York Times article that he had written alongside Siddharth George, who is an economist in the Ministry of Finance. 

However, later, in an emailed reply, in which Subramanian was also copied, George clarified that Rs 12,700 crore was not the savings for 2014-15. “The Rs 12,700 crore figure does not pertain to FY14-15 … We obviously do not know exactly how much absolute consumption will be this year — that depends on market prices and other factors. But we can say that based on last year’s total consumption, the savings would have been 24 per cent of total consumption or about 12,700 crore,” he said.

The NDA initially reintroduced DBT for LPG in 54 districts in mid-November 2014, with nationwide roll out to all districts from January 2015. The UPA government had first introduced the programme, and later suspended it in February 2014.
Since April 1, 2015, India’s cooking gas subsidies are being distributed solely by electronic transfer through DBTL. IISD states that it is the largest unconditional cash transfer programme in history.

Under the DBTL, which has replaced the direct sale of cooking gas cylinders at subsidised prices, households place an order for LPG with their gas distributor, receive an amount equivalent to the current subsidy amount via electronic transfer to their bank account, then pay the full unsubsidised price for the cylinder in cash on collection or delivery.

IISD study states that “assuming programme implementation on the basis formally announced, the theoretical maximum reduction in subsidy expenditure directly attributable to DBTL in FY 2014-15 can therefore be roughly calculated by applying the initial reduction in subsidised consumption (reported as 25 per cent) to the total potential consumption available to existing connections (reported as 23.3 million), then applying the relevant data on monthly under-recoveries and fiscal subsidy to calculate the estimated ‘avoided’ expenditure figure.”

According to IISD, households possessing LPG connections were given three months from the initial introduction of the scheme in their district to register their bank account details for direct payment, during which time they were still able to purchase subsidised cylinders within their quota. Following this period, households, could purchase only non-subsidised domestic cylinders. However for a further period of three months the equivalent per cylinder subsidy would be recorded and released to the consumer upon DBTL registration.

It is important to note that for a period of seven and a half months — from April 1, 2014 to November 15, 2014 — the scheme had no direct effect on total subsidy expenditure. “DBTL only began to formally restrict access to subsidised LPG for non DBTL-registered households in mid-February 2015, and then only in the 54 districts selected in Phase 1 (representing 8 per cent of total districts). In the remaining Phase 2 districts (constituting 92 per cent of total districts), non-registered households retained formal access to directly subsidised LPG until March 31st 2015.”

Reetika Khera, professor at IIT Delhi, is not surprised to hear that government could have been overstating the savings. “There has been no serious analysis of the benefits and cost of the UID project. Three recent studies suggest that the government has been overstating the benefits and hiding costs (in terms of disruption).”

On October 2, a study commissioned by the Andhra Pradesh government, conducted by the Society for Social Audit, Accountability and Transparency (SSAAT) found that over half of those who did not lift their rations in May 2015 reported reasons related to the use of Aadhaar: either fingerprint recognition failed, Aadhaar numbers mismatched or there was a malfunction in the E-PoS machine. IISD’s Clarke agrees with the claims that DBTL has done little to enhance access of LPG for poor and vulnerable consumers. “It (DBTL) also doesn’t tackle the significant administrative hurdles faced by the poor to gaining registered LPG connections, and therefore LPG subsidies.”

The massive anomaly in government’s claims comes to light just as Supreme Court is scheduled to decide on the use of UID for PDS on October 7.