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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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

9238 - Rebooting India - Free Press Journal


— By T R Ramachandran | Jan 03, 2016 12:42 pm 

Based on learnings from the Aadhaar project, Nilekani and Shah propose a series of high-tech initiatives that can deliver low-cost solutions to India’s grand challenges.

Having gained valuable insight in developing the unique identity card for a billion people in five years, Nandan Nilekeni, founding Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI) and Viral Shah, who worked at the intersection of policy and technology leading the design of the government’s payments and subsidy platforms using Aadhaar. They have proposed some big ideas that can redesign existing systems and save the government a mind boggling estimated Rs One trillion annually. This saving equivalent to one per cent of the country’s GDP is enough for two Golden Quadrilateral road systems across the country or send 200 Mangalyan missions to the Mars annually.  It is also sufficient to provide minimal health insurance to every family in the country for three years. It is entirely technology driven.

This might well be one of the solutions that Prime Minister Narendra Modi might want to consider seriously to get his much touted “sab ke saath, sab ka vikas” off the ground having remained dormant over the last 18 months since he assumed the high office on the majestic Raisina Hill on May 26 last year.

Today, an increasing number of businesses and industries are run on software delivered as online services – from movies, to agriculture to national defence. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technological companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures. 

India now boasts of the world’s third largest internet user base with over 190 million users, many of whom are on smartphones to get online and buy things; as much as 40 per cent of all e-commerce transactions in India are now conducted via mobile phones, bypassing computers altogether.

“India is sitting on demographic dividend and is expected to become the world’s youngest country by 2020, with 64 per cent of its population, roughly 800 million people of working age. That is 800 million knocks on the ceiling with a list of demands that include education, employment, good health, better infrastructure, efficient governance and a corruption free society. The economy that is supposed to sustain the weight of these demands has been growing in single digit at around nine per cent a year at the best of times – a flimsy scaffold on which to construct dreams of a better life.”

The question is how do we build a foundation strong enough to nurture these dreams and bring them to fruition? As an enabler of peoples’ aspirations, the authors insist this requires “a radical rethink of the relationship between the government and its people compared to the one that still seems stuck in a bygone era in its reluctance to embrace technology’s transformative powers”. Even for an urban, middle class Indian dealing with the government is cumbersome. Merely starting a new business in India takes weeks; most of this time is spent in completing the required paper work and legal formalities.

“Whether it is paying taxes or negotiating complex labour law requirements we haven’t built a truly entrepreneur-friendly environment where anyone with a bright idea and some capital can easily start a business,” emphasised Nilekeni, a former CEO of Infosys, and Shah, who is the co-inventor of the Julia programming language and cofounder of FourthLion Technologies. They believe technology can transform government by: (1) Scale – solutions that handle millions of people and billions of transactions; (2) Speed – solution that can be developed in months and years, not decades; (3) Cost — solutions that decrease process and service costs; (4) Enforceability — solutions that can be monitored in real time; (5) Diversity – solutions that work as platforms to foster innovation; (6) Autonomy – solutions that allow government (central, state, local) and its agencies to function independently; (7) Mobility – solutions that are accessible anywhere in the country; (8) Integration – solutions that incorporate the best components across the public private spectrum; (9) Collaboration – solutions that share information and develop partnerships across government; (10) Inclusion – solutions that lowers entry barriers and widen access for all.
The profound shift of balance of power between the government and the people is only possible because of technology. “We need to fix our country’s problems at great speed, at scales with high quality while providing solutions that are easy to access, independent of geography and at low cost. “Technology the great leveller is our only hope of meeting these goals. Many of the states are well run today and the formation of the NITI Ayog and the GST reform will lead to further fiscal consolidation. States should be free to opt for these common platforms because they see a clear benefit in participation rather than through the carrot of money or the stick of the legislation.
The issue of fund flow can be resolved by cutting down the number of schemes and running them more efficiently; equally important, a great proportion of the central funds should be untied, eliminating restrictions on how the money can be spent and allowing states to use their money more effectively. Increasingly India is getting to the point where money itself is no longer the bottleneck. The finances of many states are quite robust. The Centre-State relationship has evolved to a point where “we believe the centre must provide value beyond money through world class platform development”.
The biggest barrier to the ideas Nilekeni and Shah believe is mindsets. In a system that clings tenaciously to hierarchy, it is hard to recognise that a 25-year-old ‘techie’ might have better ideas than the veteran official in his fifties. That value and knowledge lie not at the top of the silo, but at the boundaries across various disciplines. That problem solving is not about big budgets and a cast of thousands, but small teams with shoestring budgets — teams that include technologists, social activists, people who have built successful businesses, domain experts and bureaucrats.

Nilekeni and Shah have identified a dozen great challenges in their book. The first two — Aadhaar and PaHal — have already been scaled successfully. That leaves ten more grand challenges for which ten new start ups are required in the government, each with a team of ten dedicated multi-disciplinarian champions. Such teams operating under the authority of the Prime Minister can drive the sweeping transformation and innovative thinking capable of fulfilling a billion aspirations, say the authors.

“We are much better off dreaming, taking risks, and trying to realise a billion aspirations; at best we risk falling flat on our faces. Far more egregious, and most dangerous to our country, going about business as ususal, leaving a billion voices unheard and a billion frustrations unresolved,” observed Nilekeni and Shah.

The authors are confident that the problems are enormous. And these can only be tackled by fast changing technological tools including cloud computing, big data and analytics to move towards a different kind of aggregation, one that is gaining traction in the private sector.