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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Friday, October 30, 2015

9005 - The unambiguous benefits of cash transfer - Live Mint

Tue, Oct 27 2015. 08 32 PM IST

Most arguments against cash transfer don’t stand up to closer scrutiny


The Karnataka government said last week that it would digitize its ration shops within three months. The Aadhaar data of all ration card holders in the state will be fed into a server that will be linked to the public distribution system (PDS). The idea is to use biometric information to reduce subsidy leakages.

Similar experiments in other states underline the efficiency gains from Aadhaar, especially when it is teamed up with the Jan-Dhan Yojana and mobile payments. The truly radical possibilities will be revealed when the Indian government begins to give primacy to direct cash transfers in its welfare system.
Critics argue that the cash transfer cannot bring about any drastic reduction in leakages and corruption. Moreover, the leakages and corruption can be curbed to a great extent, they say, by enhancing the state capacity and reforming the subsidy delivery systems.

A study done by three economists—Karthik Muralidharan, Sandip Sukhtankar and Paul Niehaus—conclusively establishes the benefits of a biometrically authenticated payments infrastructure. They studied the impact of a randomized rollout of smart cards in Andhra Pradesh. The biometric smart cards brought about a substantial decrease in the number of “ghost” beneficiaries and achieved a faster, more predictable and less corrupt payments process. The reduction in leakages amounted to eight times the cost of implementing the smart-card-based system.

More than the actual quantum of leakages—which are large anyway—the benefits of social welfare programmes are lost because of poor targeting. The result is a combination of inclusion and exclusion errors. A study by the Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, finds that in the fiscal year 2010-11, the four states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, accounting for 59% of the total rural BPL (below poverty line) population, could avail of only 34% of total person-days employment generated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). In the same year, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, together home to only 8% of the rural BPL population, generated 23% of person-days of employment. The extent of leakages and inefficient targeting warrant the intervention of technology.
Reforming the state delivery systems and checking corruption using conventional means in large states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with entrenched vested interests is easier said than done. On the other hand, technology-enabled solutions can help not just plug leakages in laggard states, but lower the enduring leakages in better-performing states as well.

Another argument against cash transfers is that there are fewer bank branches than other means of availing benefits, say PDS shops. It is nobody’s argument that PDS shops will be replaced by cash transfers without adequate support systems. The government has made it clear that it intends to shift to cash-based transfers with the help of the JAM trinity—Jan-Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and Mobile. The revolutionary spread of mobile phones in India offers an unprecedented opportunity for redesigning state delivery mechanisms. Governments across the developing world are now using mobile phones to deliver state services.

A last argument against cash transfer is against cash itself. Replacing food, for instance, with cash is deemed as abstinence by government from providing the essential goods and services. To the contrary, cash empowers the beneficiaries to make their own choices. The last thing a government should do is to behave as a nanny to its poor citizens and dictate their choices. A related argument is that the beneficiaries will squander the cash on liquor and drugs. Multiple studies dispel this apprehension. An analysis of 19 studies across the world by David Evans and Anna Popova of the World Bank did not find cash transfers leading to any statistically significant increase in spending on alcohol or tobacco.

Meanwhile, in India, the Supreme Court as well as a number of activists have raised concerns over the possible breach of privacy with en masse collection and storage of biometric information. Indeed, the government should address the privacy concerns by introducing an appropriate legislation. Most of the other criticisms of cash transfer, however, fall flat on closer scrutiny. The Supreme Court has, for now, allowed the use of Aadhaar cards for MGNREGS, Jan-Dhan Yojana, pension and provident fund schemes, along with subsidy transfer for foodgrains, kerosene and cooking oil. The government should persist with efforts to broaden its ambit, as it is a goal worth pursuing.

Is cash transfer an effective way to deliver welfare benefits? Tell us at views@livemint.com