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 15, 2015

8939 - Opinion: Aadhaar, rights and the state by Usha Ramanathan - Indian Express



The problem is that Aadhaar was never about individual choice, and was never intended to be voluntary.

Written by Usha Ramanathan | Updated: October 8, 2015 12:58 pm

Has the project really been voluntary? Has the project done what is needed to protect privacy? Should the executive be given freedom to frame whatever policy it will? And, would Mahatma Gandhi have been with Nilekani in wanting the population of India fingerprinted and iris-scanned?

Nandan Nilekani’s plea that the Supreme Court “tweak” its order of August 11 in his article in these pages (‘Why Supreme Court judgment on Aadhaar calls for an appeal’, September 15) is innocent of the experience that people have had with the unique identification (UID) project in the past five years. Why does the court order trouble him? Has the project really been voluntary? Has the project done what is needed to protect privacy? Should the executive be given freedom to frame whatever policy it will? And, would Mahatma Gandhi have been with Nilekani in wanting the population of India fingerprinted and iris-scanned?
The last is easily answered. In 1906, Gandhi was in South Africa, fighting the registration and fingerprinting of Indians in the Transvaal. This provocation led to mass resistance and protest, deliberate disobedience of the law, trial and punishment, and, as Charles DiSalvo records in The Man before the Mahatma, Gandhi was arguing: “It was not a question of thumb or fingerprints, but this was a thing that touched on their liberty.” That he would have endorsed a system where registration with fingerprints and iris-scans was pushed through on the threat of exclusion from food and fuel, schooling, old-age support, work, marriage, caste certificate, vaccination, child care — that seems a perfect description of what would not have found sympathy with Gandhi.

The UID was never about individual choice. It was never intended to be voluntary; it was only intended to be marketed as being voluntary. Even in 2010, the UIDAI strategy overview document admitted that while the official line would be that enrolment was not mandated, “This will not however, preclude governments or registrars from mandating enrolment.” And that has, in fact, been the strategy. Except that the Supreme Court decided that the project needed to be reined in, when confronted with concerns about lawlessness, national security, personal security and privacy, using the population of the country to experiment with biometrics, engaging companies with dubious credentials to hold and handle our data, surveillance, tracking, profiling, the untested claims about plugging leakages and the threat of exclusion.

The UIDAI and the government have responded by refusing to comply with the orders of the court, and that is how, contrary to law, the database has been built and multiple databases “seeded” with the number.

The Supreme Court has passed orders telling the government and the UIDAI and all other agencies what they may not do five times. Each time the orders have been brazenly flouted. On September 23, 2013, the court said that no one shall “suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card”. The government, oil marketing companies and the UIDAI shed the pretence of voluntariness and rushed to the court asking that it accept that the UID be mandatory. On November 26, 2013, the court refused to oblige. So, the order of the court was simply ignored, and coercion continued. On March 24, 2014, the court, having received complaints from the public that its order had had no effect, directed that “all authorities… modify their forms/ circulars/ likes so as not to compulsorily require the Aadhaar number”. This was not done. Instead, it was asserted that the “system” would not accept a form without the UID or enrolment ID. And, anyone without either of the two would be shepherded to an enrolment booth, which amounted to mandatory enrolment on the UID database. This was then passed off as “voluntary” and as being done with “informed consent”.

On March 16, the court again said: “In the meantime, it is brought to our notice that in certain quarters, Aadhaar identification is being insisted upon by the various authorities… We expect that both the Union of India and states and all their functionaries should adhere to the order passed by this court on September 23, 2013.” This gentle chiding produced no results.
Before all this, the parliamentary standing committee had asked that the proposed law, and the project itself, be sent back to the drawing board. The executive has carried on as if the law has nothing to do with it.

On August 11, the court asked the government to stop using the number and the information that is with the UIDAI for anything other than the PDS and LPG — exceptions, it must be said, that leave the poor unprotected, especially as none other than the Election Commission seems to respect this order. Six years after the project began, the UIDAI now admits that the biometrics of our “working population… adds another challenge to achieving uniqueness” and has set up a “competence centre” to research it.

When the case is heard by a larger bench, to which it was referred on Wednesday, the court is going to have to find answers to what the project is doing to people’s rights, the lawlessness of the state, the relationship between the people and the state, and about the emerging global geopolitics centred around population data.


The writer works on the jurisprudence of law, poverty and rights.