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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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

9035 - Nandan Nilekani's recipe for a start-up government - Business Standard

Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah's Rebooting India uses their experience at UIDAI to argue for technological solutions they claim will revitalise India
November 7, 2015 Last Updated at 00:18 IST


Technocrats are often unfairly accused of various crimes against democracy. They do not believe in accountability, it is argued; they are insufficiently respectful of politics, they have contempt for existing institutions, or they are overwhelmingly in love with “new” methods.

Of these various accusations, only one can be levelled with any justice at Nandan Nilekani and his erstwhile team at the Unique ID Authority of India, or UIDAI: the last. Aadhaar is a superb tool, one of the best-designed technological interventions to improve Indian governance that can be imagined; but, in many other situations, it could be claimed that even the finest technological interventions will only go so far in solving deep-rooted institutional problems.

Rebooting India, written by Nilekani and another member of the UIDAI, Viral Shah, is at heart an argument for the transformative nature of technology in government. The authors talk about Aadhaar, of course — and then the various killer apps it makes possible, such as inclusive banking, direct benefit transfers, and paperless know-your-customer protocols.

They then go on to discuss other tech fixes they worked on with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the previous coalition in power, as part of the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects. The Goods and Services Tax Network, or GSTN, for example; the Central Electronic Toll Collection System, or CES, for highways; and the Expenditure Information Network, which would take government transparency to another level by allowing citizens to track where their taxes were being spent.

Not all of these projects took off the way they were supposed to — the EIN is still largely theory. And so the authors’ discussion of them is followed, thankfully, by two successes: India’s electronic voting machines, which have vastly improved the reliability and robustness of our elections, and digital outreach for political parties, which has become since Narendra Modi’s commanding victory a new baseline in Indian politics, even in states as economically backward as Bihar.

Synthesising these examples, Nilekani and Shah wind up with a proposal: that India needs a way to reconcile the energy of start-ups — speed, agility, expertise and market-based incentives — with the strengths of government — scale, stability, intelligent generalists and process-based incentives.

They suggest a new departmental model is needed, a “National Information Utility”, which would bring talent from both government and the private sector together. Such NIUs, which they think could combine the strengths of government and start-up, are “essential to implement technology-enabled solutions to the challenges our country faces today”. The UIDAI, they hint, “could be considered an early forerunner” of the NIU.

Having laid out this proposal, Nilekani and Shah turn to areas where the technological solutions that an NIU could steer would matter. In the building of an electronic medical record system for all Indians, to aid healthcare; online courses and “digital lockers” for educational certificates; smart grids and new-generation batteries to improve power distribution; and a centralised court operation platform that would digitalise and make searchable all court records, as well as allow the progress of any case to be tracked.

Government, they conclude, is “a platform”; it must shift as the priorities of citizens change, and this is their preferred way to do it.

This is a refreshingly optimistic book. The authors’ experience in government — the disputes, the turf wars, the slowness, the political dithering — is gestured to, but does not affect the book’s exalted tone. Other technocrats in government have written books born of their experience, but few have been as purposeful and forward-looking as this. And nobody can read it and believe that the authors are not committed to accountability or to institution-building.

Many of the specific technological interventions strike me as eminently workable, and indeed have been on the agenda since the UPA and are now being incorporated into Modi’s “Digital India” programme. Perhaps the book suffers just a little in comparison, therefore, to Nilekani’s Imagining India, which somehow managed to present ideas every few pages that struck you with their radical new-ness at the time.

I will confess, however, to a small feeling of disappointment. Not in the nature and quality of the argument — the book is easy to read, especially given its subject matter, and ultimately persuasive about its suggestions. And Nilekani and Shah have to be given full credit for being good, decent people; this is far from the standard post-UPA book template, a whiny, tell-all in which the author takes credit for any successes, blames Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi for any failures, and drops dark hints about errors and quarrels to try to get the book’s name on the front pages and prime-time talk shows.

But in the end, Nilekani and Shah’s solution — a few hundred people in ten government “start-ups”, reporting directly to the prime minister — simply feels insufficiently deep. You’re left with wonder that both of them have such hopes from technological adoption, and from small groups in government, even after five far-from-easy years with UIDAI. This is a testament to their sunny nature, but means that the book and its argument feel incomplete. You need more.

Policy change of the sort envisioned here creates angry external interest groups; it creates internal opposition, it has legal and procedural obstacles. Aadhaar faced all of these. A book that truly made the case for these technological interventions would also devote as much time and thought to the politics of these policies. Who would object, and why? How could those objections be overcome? What buy-ins for dissenters, and at what cost to efficiency and speed of implementation?

Many of us hoped that Nilekani would be the first of a new breed: the technocrat who understood politics. In fact, he probably is. But this book does not sufficiently showcase that understanding; the problems of adoption are mentioned, but are effectively sidelined in most cases.

What is most disappointing is that they conclude with the common fantasy that all you need is a supportive prime minister, and that being “anchored” under a PM would allow the NIUs to succeed. Successful PMs have to balance interest groups just like everyone else; good underlings for successful PMs help them do that. Those who create or conserve political and bureaucratic capital are more valuable than those who spend it.

But these disagreements shouldn’t stop anyone from reading the book; on the contrary. How and why these solutions will be implemented is yet to be understood; but they are solutions, and I believe that most of them will somehow come to be. Such is, after all, the promise and peril of technology. Nilekani and Shah have seen the future, and it works.