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, March 5, 2016

9374 - After Jnu, Govt Can Take The Money Bill Route For Central Gst, Aadhaar - Swarajya Mag


February 17, 2016, 2:25 am

Modi government has got its tactics wrong in deciding how to deal with a recalcitrant opposition. Facing another wash-out in the upcoming budget session, it should rather push the important bills through the money bill route.

Now that the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) imbroglio is likely to isolate the NDA in parliament even further, the Narendra Modi government needs to develop a new short-term strategy to speed up some reforms using the money bills route. Money bills can be passed by parliament even if the Rajya Sabha blackballs them, and declaring a bill as money bill is entirely within the speaker’s powers.

The goods and services tax (GST) bill will, obviously, be the first casualty of the JNU fracas and the Rohith Vemula suicide – both of which will enable the opposition to make house functioning impossible. But there is a partial way out if the centre decides to implement GST only for central taxes – that is by merging the excise and service taxes at the centre, as Seetha points out in this article in the Swarajya website.

While the bigger GST needs a constitutional amendment, nothing stops the centre from merging the excise and service tax acts, especially since both are administered by the central excise department. A unified central GST will set the stage for the states to walk in later, even one at a time. The idea should be to let the states know that GST progress can be a coalition of the few and the willing, and that the stragglers may end up paying a price if they wait too long.

The second thing is to activate the JAM trinity – that is Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile payments system – by giving the Aadhaar unique ID project a legal basis. Once again, this can be done by making it a money bill – and this is justifiable since the idea is to route subsidies to the poor from the exchequer. Currently, Aadhaar usage faces many restrictions from the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition to outlaw it, as it breaches privacy by taking your finger-prints and biometric information without any backing in law.

The UPA could not get the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 passed as the parliamentary committee attached to the finance ministry gave it a thumbs down.

However, under Narendra Modi, Aadhaar already covers 970 million people, and additionally, the government has been using it to ensure direct transfer of LPG subsidy benefits to bank accounts. The idea now is to extend it to kerosene, and, at some point, even food. It cannot be extended if the Supreme Court puts a further crimp in the lifeline.

A Times of Indiareport suggests that the government may well bring in an Aadhaar bill labelled as a money legislation. It may be called the Aadhaar (Delivery of Benefits, Subsidies and Services) Bill 2016, and could have additional provisions to protect the privacy of the data collected from citizens and ensure data security. The report says the attorney general has already given the green signal to it.

Aadhaar as a money bill, and this will enable the government to move the Supreme Court for enabling its compulsory use for the disbursal of monetary benefits to the poor. Once such a law is passed, it could herald the greatest reform in subsidy deliveries in Indian history.

Another bill worth pursuing as a money bill is the Bankruptcy Code, which has some tax angles. The bill, as currently introduced, has gone to a joint Lok Sabha-Rajya Sabha committee in order to prevent the upper house from bottling it up indefinitely. But in case it still suffers the same fate, it is worth having a more limited bankruptcy code reintroduced as a money bill, albeit with more tax-related provisions in it to justify the tag.

The bankruptcy code will, among other things, enable bankrupt companies to be wound up in six months, thus speeding up the recovery process of bad loans by the sale of available assets.
There is, or course, a limit to how many bills can be called money bills, but some key ones surely are worth the effort, especially the combining of central goods and services taxes, and the Aadhaar direct benefits transfer bill. Both will be landmark bills, even if the GST is a truncated one.
The problem for the Modi government is that it got its tactics and strategy all wrong in deciding how to deal with a recalcitrant opposition. It first tried to ram legislation down the opposition’s throat, and then gave them a handle to disrupt parliament after Sangh loudmouths made atrocious sectarian comments, and pushed the anti-beef agenda ham-handedly.
Now, of course, the Modi government is on the backfoot with the Vemula and JNU controversies giving the opposition a fresh reason to disrupt.

It is best to use the money bill route judiciously in the budget session so that some pieces of legislation can be passed through the normal route after the state assembly elections are done and dusted post the budget session. Hopefully, wiser counsel will prevail in the opposition by that time.