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.


Search This Blog

Saturday, October 24, 2015

8988 - Fact check: Will restricting Aadhaar now affect crores of welfare recipients?- Scroll.In


Last week, the government told the Supreme Court that the biometrics programme has already become critical for paying wages and pensions. Its data suggests otherwise.
Anumeha Yadav  · Oct 22, 2015 · 12:30 pm


Has India’s biometrics-based identity project Aadhaar already become essential for the implementation of social welfare schemes? The Modi government steadfastly suggests so, even though there is no evidence on the ground to prove this.

On October 15, when the Supreme Court was hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the validity of the project, the government defended Aadhaar vehemently. It pointed to the court that the Aadhaar card has become the most widely held identity document in India, with an enrolment of around 92 crore people. More importantly, it claimed that Aadhaar is used to provide wages to 1 crore workers under the national rural employment guarantee scheme and to reach 30 lakh pensioners.

Disrupting the unique identification system now by limiting it to voluntary use, the government claimed, will shut off social schemes to a large section of the population. It requested the court to instead permit it to make Aadhaar mandatory in around 80 social schemes.

Once the arguments were heard, the Supreme Court permitted the voluntary use of Aadhaar in four schemes: the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and schemes related to pension and provident fund. The court reasoned that if the Aadhaar card could be voluntarily used to avail LPG subsidy and ration – permitted through a court order on August 11 – then why not other social schemes.

But how factual were the government’s arguments in court? Has Aadhaar already become an indispensible welfare delivery system? Official data shows it hasn’t really.

Even now, Direct Benefit Transfers – subsidies given directly to people through their bank accounts – is carried out through the National Electronic Funds Transfer, not through Aadhaar. Contrary to the government’s claim, therefore, restricting the project even at this stage would neither impact a large section of beneficiaries nor disrupt their payments.

Ways of welfare delivery

The government wants to use the Aadhaar project in social schemes in three ways.

1. Every time a person enrols for Aadhaar, their biometric and demographic information is recorded and checked against the Aadhaar and welfare databases to weed out duplication. Called “de-duplication”, the idea behind this process is to identify and remove fake entries in the rolls and those who have duplicate cards. However, the procedure has counterproductively struck off genuine beneficiaries from welfare schemes, simply because they either missed Aadhaar enrolment or were not interested in it.

2. The second planned use is the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System. Under this, a welfare beneficiary’s unique Aadhaar number is added to – or “seeded in” – the government database. Banks carry out the same procedure, linking the Aadhaar number to the bank account number of their account holders. Next, banks report this “seeding” to the Reserve Bank of India’s National Payments Corporation of India to add it to a “mapper”. Once these steps are over, the government can make a Direct Benefit Transfer – that is, transfer benefits such as wages and pensions directly into a beneficiary’s bank account – using the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System.

3. The third use is doorstep delivery, or the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System. The government is giving accredited agents, called banking correspondents, a hand-held micro-ATM to take banking services right to the doorsteps of beneficiaries. These agents authenticate beneficiaries’ biometric information against the Aadhaar database on the micro-ATM using real-time internet, allowing on-the-spot payments of wages and pensions. This idea too has run into many problems – including poor mobile and internet connectivity, slow bank technology upgradation, problems in hiring enough banking correspondents.

Limited in reach

The second use of the unique identification project, the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System, has its own set of problems – it is still at a nascent stage and the government has found it difficult to scale it up. Concerted enrolment drives since 2011 have helped government enrol crores of people in Aadhaar. But officials acknowledge that the number of welfare recipients for whom seeding has been completed and who hold Aadhaar-mapped accounts is too low for the government to shift to the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System.

Given the lack of legal framework for Aadhaar and the many Supreme Court orders specifying that it can’t be made mandatory for social schemes, the government could not seed beneficiaries’ welfare schemes data at the time of enrolment. Even after beneficiaries enrolled in Aadhaar, a senior government official explained, they had to be physically located a second time to collect their data for seeding. In most states, however, banks did not deploy staff to seed data at their end, or they didn’t forward mapping requests to the National Payments Corporation of India.

As a result, the government couldn’t push Direct Benefit Transfers through the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System. Instead, it is making these transfers through the National Electronic Funds Transfer, which does not use Aadhaar.

Data from the Ministry of Finance shows that in both MNREGA and National Social Assistance Programme on pensions for the poor, the government is transferring funds using Aadhaar only in minuscule cases. Most funds are being routed through National Electronic Funds Transfers.

Finance Ministry data also reveals that although 65.3% of MNREGA beneficiaries have an Aadhaar number, their details have been seeded in 16.3% cases only. As for pensions, while 55.1% beneficiaries have enrolled in Aadhaar, “seeding” has been done for 10.6% of them.

In March, for instance, 98.3% of MNREGA workers received wages through NEFT. Only 1.6% of wages were paid through the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System, and 0.1% through another system, called the Public Financial Management System, which again doesn’t require Aadhaar.


Direct Benefit Transfers (in crores).

For social pensions, the government directed 92.6% of Direct Benefits Transfers through NEFT in March and only 5.2% through the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System.


Direct Benefit Transfers through various modes (%).

“Direct Benefit Transfer does not need Aadhaar. They can proceed without Aadhaar,” said Reetika Khera, an economist at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi. “Most of the DBTs so far have been using the NEFT transfer route very successfully.” Khera adds that in the last few years, corruption has reduced significantly in public schemes such as the Public Distribution System and MNREGA through simpler technology such as SMS alerts and computerisation of records.

Senior officials acknowledge that the actual number of Aadhaar payments is very low and the number of Aadhaar-seeded accounts even lower. They say the government is trying to bring every worker with an Aadhaar number under the Aadhaar Payment Bridge System and, for this, it needs the court to include “voluntary use” of Aadhaar in a greater number of social schemes.

“The court order has laid the ground for continuing our immediate work in Aadhaar,” said a senior official in the Direct Benefit Transfer department, which was recently placed under the Cabinet Secretariat. “We will continue to push banks and different ministries and departments to achieve higher seeding in MNREGA, pensions, Jan Dhan. We have discussed a proposal to draft a law for a new legal and statutory framework for Aadhaar.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in