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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Saturday, February 13, 2016

9348 - Enabling direct transfers through JAM - Live Mint

Thu, Feb 11 2016. 11 35 PM IST

Each element—Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and mobile—needs some significant fixes to work effectively


A file photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’ launch in New Delhi. Photo: PIB

The JAM Trinity (Jan Dhan Yojana + Aadhaar number + mobile number), a lively acronym to refocus the government’s programme of Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT), was spelt out in the last Economic Survey. While the DBT has been operational since 2013, the trinity makes it easier to pinpoint the remaining barriers as each element in the JAM needs some significant fixes to work effectively. By March 2015, more than 227 million beneficiaries were part of the programme under 36 schemes, with the highest enrolments under DBTL (DBT for liquefied petroleum gas subsidy ). Yet, the DBT programme has a long way to go to become a universal national scheme. This month’s budget can fix some of the stumbling blocks, but there are others that need coordination across multiple departments, regulators and the attention of Parliament.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), the J of the trinity, has succeeded in changing the financial inclusion landscape since it was launched in August 2014. The bundling of a bank account with the RuPay card, pension and insurance schemes, along with the blitzkrieg of advertisements across all media created high levels of awareness for financial services. More critically, the focus under the PMJDY has moved discussions on financial inclusion away from just recording the number of agents and accounts to monitoring parameters that are crucial for sustainable inclusion, like agent remuneration and transaction readiness.

The main challenge remains at the last mile—ensuring that the agent, the point of contact with the customer, remains invested in the business. Agent dormancy has been a huge problem; while the PMJDY has recommended a minimum monthly remuneration of Rs.5,000, the role of the ministry of finance in raising the agent’s income has not met with sufficient attention.

A key issue that has repeatedly raised its head is the low commission paid out to banks on DBT transactions. While the Report of the Task Force on an Aadhaar-Enabled Unified Payment Infrastructure had recommended a 3.14% transaction processing charge to the banks, in reality the rates allowed by the central and state governments have been 1-2%. In January 2015, the finance ministry fixed DBT commissions for banks: for urban schemes, at the National Electronic Funds Transfer/Aadhaar Payment Bridge rate; but for rural schemes, the rate was fixed at 1%, subject to an upper limit of Rs.10 per transaction. Detailed costing analysis from consulting firm MicroSave in May 2015 shows that 2.63% is the break-even charge: the break-up of this across the three main constituents in the disbursement chain came to about 0.96% for business correspondent (BC) network managers, 0.85% for business correspondent agents, and about 0.82% for the banks. The analysis also revealed that the savings to the government through lower administrative costs and leakages are significant. Clearly, the government can well afford adequate compensation to the banks and agent networks for their role in the disbursements.

Unfortunately, even the notified commission charges have reportedly not reached the banks. The ministry of finance must make clear budgetary allocation for the commission charges and ensure transparent and timely payment flows through the state government and banking channels. Hopefully, this budget will address this critical concern of the banks and the agents.
As the DBT was already in operation before the launch of PMJDY, the two schemes will now begin to merge. In December 2015, the government directed banks to convert all accounts opened prior to PMJDY and used for DBT payments into PMJDY accounts. This move will bring all the bundled benefits of PMJDY accounts to existing DBT beneficiaries.

Another advantage would be the ease of Aadhaar seeding as the Supreme Court has mentioned PMJDY as one of the specific schemes where voluntary use of Aadhaar is allowed. This brings us to the A in JAM, Aadhaar, which has caused many a hiccup to the progress of the DBT mission. While the Supreme Court is hearing petitions against the very concept and use of Aadhaar, the Reserve Bank of India, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Securities and Exchange Board of India and several state governments have approached the court in favour of Aadhaar as an enabler. The matter of “right to privacy” has been referred to a larger constitutional bench. Meanwhile, it is critical that the government work with all political parties for appropriate legislation towards the National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill.

Finally, we come to M or mobile. Here, it’s easy to get misled by India’s overall teledensity statistic of 81.44%. Reliable connectivity at the last mile is crucial and the correct metric for digital financial transactions would be the minimum threshold bandwidth for data connectivity that enables mobile-based transactions, especially across rural India. The PMJDY Mission Directorate must, therefore, work with Trai, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to set up service quality benchmarks to enable financial transactions and then monitor performance at the business correspondent outlet level.
To conclude, the three critical asks for JAM to be an effective enabler of DBT are: (a) for the finance ministry: adequate and timely disbursement of transaction processing charges for the bank and agent network; (b) for Parliament: passage of the NIAI bill and (c) for the finance ministry, Trai, NCPI and UIDAI: setting up and monitoring service quality benchmarks for digital financial transactions.

Sumita Kale is with the Indicus Centre for Financial Inclusion.
Comments are welcome at theirview@livemint.com