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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Thursday, October 8, 2015

8866 - The Government Needs To Get Cracking On The NIAI Bill - Swarajyamag


Seetha is a senior journalist and author
8 Oct, 2015

Modi government should get cracking on the NIAI Bill which makes both the government and UIDAI accountable and also addresses the privacy issues concerning Aadhaar.

The Supreme Court order limiting the use of Aadhaar to only the public distribution system (PDS) and provision of cooking gas subsidy for now is being seen as a victory for activists and a slap for the various government agencies which had approached the Court asking for permission to allow the biometric-based identity proof be used for more services. 

It would be unwise to see the issue in such binary terms. The matter came up before the Supreme Court because a spate of petitions challenging the use of Aadhaar had been filed across the country. The short point of most of these petitions was that the insistence on Aadhaar to avail a host of services – from opening bank accounts to getting subsidies and doles – is discriminatory since it denies those who do not have an Aadhaar number all these services and benefits. But in fact just the opposite happens.

Though Aadhaar only proves identity and not eligibility, it enables the government to ensure that an ineligible Peter faking identity documents does not get the benefits an eligible Paul is entitled to. In a subsidy regime burdened by huge leakages, this is a huge point in its favour.

In fact, the Supreme Court’s August order limiting use of Aadhaar only for PDS and LPG subsidy (because the government had already traveled very far down that road) is slightly flawed to the extent that it left NREGA out of it. NREGA is a huge source of corruption and bogus muster rolls and the Court should have allowed compulsory use of Aadhaar for this as well. It is also unfortunate that the Court stopped even voluntary use of Aadhaar.

But are the concerns over privacy (one of the few on which those on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum are united) exaggerated?

The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) keeps insisting they are, but activists like Usha Ramanathan have often cited examples to show how the data collection process has loopholes which allow privacy violations. The evidence is quite credible. It is also true that various consent clauses in the Aadhaar form are not properly communicated and even educated people have unknowingly ticked the box allowing sharing of information.
These are valid – and important – issues that should not be dismissed just because a bunch of activists are raising them. 

But privacy violations alone should not be a reason to junk a perfectly valid – and relatively more error-proof – identity document.

Instead the government should get cracking on plugging loopholes that the activists have highlighted and, more importantly, on giving Aadhaar legislative backing. The United Progressive Alliance government (which brought in the Aadhaar idea) had tabled the National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill in 2010. It went to a parliamentary standing committee which raised some concerns. Nothing has moved on the Bill since then.

The NIAI Bill, which will give statutory status to the UIDAI, is important and necessary. It makes the UIDAI and the government accountable. The Narendra Modi government dragging its feet on this crucial Bill is inexplicable, especially when it has not hesitated to use the ordinance route on other far more politically contentious laws. After all, Aadhaar is central to its effort to deliver subsidies in a better targeted and more efficient way. So why not get the NIAI Bill through and end one aspect of the problem?


Ultimately, there has to be reason on all sides. Activists should stop hindering even the voluntary use of Aadhaar. And the government should address concerns on privacy and other implementation issues and get cracking on the NIAI Bill while addressing the flaws that the standing committee and other experts have pointed out.