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.

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

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.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

9023 - How 101 people can fix all of India’s problems - Scroll.In

The government needs to tackle problems through start-ups within the administration.

Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah  · Yesterday · 08:30 am


Within the past two decades, popular culture has acquired a new, reliable trope – programmers hacking away in a small garage or dorm room, fuelled by soda and junk food, creating a start-up that eventually takes over the world and rakes in billions. It’s a testament to the power of the idea that a small, committed team can achieve what many large organisations cannot.

When Google paid over a billion dollars for YouTube, it was acquiring a company that was one of the largest consumers of bandwidth on the Internet, while it employed only around forty people. When the popular photo-sharing app Instagram was bought for a billion dollars by Facebook, it had only twelve employees.

What if the same start-up model could be applied to solve the problems of governance as well?

As alien as it may sound, India has actually nurtured a proud tradition of start-ups within government ever since Independence. The very first of these was the Atomic Energy Commission, founded by the physicist and bon vivant Homi Bhabha, as atypical a “sarkari babu” as one could hope to find. With a small, dedicated team of colleagues, he built India’s indigenous atomic energy programme, meant to meet the country’s power needs and bolster national security.

Another outstanding example is that of Vikram Sarabhai; the organisation he established, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), continues to win plaudits to the present day, with successes like Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan under its belt.

In her book Vikram Sarabhai: A Life, Amrita Shah writes:

By 1970, his list (of space applications) had expanded to include agriculture, forestry, oceanography, geology, mineral prospecting and cartography… This was Vikram’s dream: linking technology with development,serving the needs of the masses while nurturing a highly sophisticated work culture and scientific abilities. One of his favourite phrases was “leapfrogging”. It referred to his great faith, along with Bhabha and Nehru, in the ability of technology to enable developing countries to circumvent the long, arduous processes followed by the Western world.

India’s self-sufficiency in foodgrains and milk are also the results of start-ups: the Green Revolution, powered by scientists like Norman Borlaug and bureaucrats like MS Swaminathan, and supported administratively by the Indira Gandhi government, is responsible for the former, while Operation Flood, spearheaded by Verghese Kurien, made India the largest milk producer in the world.

In both cases, seemingly intractable problems were tackled by small teams that were given strong administrative support—the results speak for themselves. Fast-forwarding to our own experience, a dedicated group of bureaucrats and technical specialists working in tandem were able to build and deliver on the promise of the Aadhaar programme – handing out a unique identity to every one of India’s 1.2 billion residents. Around the same time as Aadhaar, the Bharat Broadband project was also launched, aimed at connecting 250,000 villages with fibre-optic networks. Aadhaar was deliberately designed from the very start for scale and speed, and over 900 million people now have an Aadhaar number; Bharat Broadband’s design inefficiencies, on the other hand, led to a gridlock, and the project is still floundering. Getting the design right in the beginning is key.

We propose that a team of 100 carefully selected individuals can fix all the major problems that ail India.

How would such a system work? Let’s say the prime minister identifies ten grand challenges that India faces. Each idea can be the nucleus of a “government start-up”. Ten enterprising leaders are given charge of each of these problems. They, in turn, form ten-member teams of the best brains within government and domain specialists from outside government to apply out-of-the-box thinking that can deliver innovative solutions.

Any new government project should be treated, in essence, like a start-up that needs to stake a claim for itself. The officials in charge of such a project need to display a considerable amount of entrepreneurial savvy.

A true entrepreneur will figure out all the government processes and follow them to the letter. 

He will navigate the byways of the bureaucracy, keep his multiple masters happy, get his project mentioned in every important speech and every government document of relevance, get his bills tabled in Parliament and enacted as law, secure his budgets, cooperate with investigating agencies, respond to court orders, answer Parliament questions, tirelessly provide information sought in RTI requests, build general consensus with multiple interest groups within government as well as citizen groups outside, find allies who will support him when under attack, and do all this while staying focused on hiring the best team and building an organisation that is dedicated towards achieving a well-defined goal.

The standard manual of “business as usual” must be thrown out of the window. A bureaucracy consisting of officials who are experts in administrative procedure alone will not be able to cope with the kind of large, complex projects that our government needs to tackle. While there are many talented, hard-working and honest bureaucrats, we must recognise the shortcomings of this system as well: a hard-coded hierarchy that places a premium on seniority; territorial battles; a bias for complexity; the shortness of tenure that creates short-term vision; the idea that power lies in commanding the largest number of people with the largest possible budget; and inter-service rivalry.



Why is government so byzantine? The Federalist Papers, published in 1787–88, discuss at length the design decisions made during the drawing up of the American Constitution. In Federalist Number 51, James Madison, the fourth President of the United States, expounds upon the controls that must be necessarily placed on the government:

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.


This is the challenge that lies before us. How do we usher a new class of people into government without weakening the structure of governance,while simultaneously harnessing the energy of the start-up culture?

Excerpted with permission from Rebooting India: Realizing A Billion Aspirations, Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah, Allen Lane.

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