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


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


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.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

8937 - Editorial | Fake arguments: Those underestimating LPG savings don’t get it

Those underestimating LPG savings don't get it

By: The Financial Express | October 10, 2015 12:54 AM

The best solution to LPG subsidies, there can be no doubt, would be one where the government slowly reduced them as was done in the case of diesel by the UPA—over a period of time, as the fuel finally got deregulated, there would be zero subsidies. 

The NDA, however, chose not to do that and put a cap on the subsidy instead—of course, with global prices falling, the government pays out a lot less than the Rs 18 per kg cap; so when prices start rising again, the government will pay more than the Rs 99 it is paying per 14.2kg cylinder right now. None of this, however, should take away from the massive success achieved by linking subsidies to bank accounts and Aadhaar—it is based on this that the government claimed it had saved Rs 12,700 crore in FY15 and is likely to save around half this amount this year. 

This number, however, has been challenged by the Candadian International Institute for Sustainable Development (ISID) and widely publicised in Indian newspapers. ISID puts the actual savings at Rs 143 crore, a fraction of what the government claims, much to the delight of many opposed to either it or the Aadhaar programme. The analysis, however, doesn’t account for the fact that savings take place at two levels.

Assume there are 100 persons who can theoretically get a food subsidy of R100 per month, but when the government decides to get the biometrics of these people, and runs this through the Aadhaar de-duplication software to remove fake or ghost subscribers, this gets reduced to 75. 

Now, assume the government tells people that they have to go to the ration shop and get their biometrics checked in order to get this subsidy—let’s say that only 70 people actually bother to go to the shop. The most accurate way to calculate the saving is 30 x 100 or Rs 3,000 per month—the ISID method, however, would calculate the subsidy as 5 x 100 or Rs 500. To get back to LPG, the government’s maths was simple: 3 crore subscribers were removed from the rolls and with an average per cylinder subsidy of Rs 361 in FY15 and a cap of 12 cylinders per person, this works out to Rs 12,996 crore. You could argue, rightly, the actual consumption per registered user is only 7, so the subsidy saving is R7,581 crore, but there is no doubt the savings are substantial.

Indeed, were the ISID methodology to be used, Aadhaar is really a waste of time—whether it is a breach of privacy is really moot then. In various states like Andhra Pradesh where considerable progress has been made in taking the biometrics of those availing of PDS, for instance, the number of people entitled to benefit from it fell from 4.53 crore to 3.86 crore after de-duplication, or by 15%. If roughly 3.7 crore of these people actually take the trouble of going to the PDS shop each month to get rations, that works out to a saving of just 4%, a number that doesn’t really add up to much, especially in contrast to the 18% the conventional methodology throws up. Whether you are in favour of Aadhaar or against it, let’s not get the arithmetic wrong.

First Published on October 10, 2015 12:17 am