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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Monday, March 7, 2016

9403 - Vested interests too strong to reform urea subsidy: Arvind Virmani - Business Standard

The mid-term review had in 2015 estimated growth rate for 2015-16 at 7 to 7.5 per cent
Business Standard  |  New Delhi 
February 27, 2016 

The formal Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act technically expired in 2008, but has been informally maintained since then. A comprehensive review, updating and legal reiteration of the framework is overdue. In my view, the first best policy would be to stick to the fiscal targets for 2016-17 and reduce the repo rates by 75 basis points. As this is unlikely to happen, given the financial markets focus on nominal (instead of real) rates, the second best policy may be to postpone fiscal deficit targets, while holding on to the revenue deficit targets.

The mid-term review had in 2015 estimated growth rate for 2015-16 at 7 to 7.5 per cent. This means that the Economic Survey predicts a rise of 0.25 per cent points at the top end. My own forecast of growth is an acceleration of about 0.2 percentage points in 2016-17 over the growth rate that we get for 2015-16 (which is projected by the Central Statistical Office at 7.6 per cent).

Read our full coverage on Union Budget 2016

I have nothing to add to Survey's estimate of Rs 1 lakh crore subsidies going to the better-off, as I haven't done my own estimate.

Some of us have been arguing that subsidies should be targeted. This was why I had suggested a unique identification number (UID)- based multi-application smart card that would bring all subsidies under one roof. I have also subsequently suggested allowing a mobile-based cash payment system, which connects the cell number to the UID.

The opening of bank accounts for the poor has definitely facilitated direct payments. The key common element is the use of the unique identification number/Aadhaar number and a payment channel that is accessible to beneficiaries. Forcing the administrators to open accounts for the poor before making payment can accelerate the spread of accounts.

As far as urea subsidy reforms are concerned, the vested interests are too strong to be easily disrupted. The current period, when the prices of oil refinery products used in urea production are low, provides a good opportunity for complete decontrol, combined with targeted subsidy. In the past, the share of the subsidy going to producers (versus farmers) has fluctuated between 100 per cent and 0 per cent.

The Survey's advice to go for World Trade Organization (WTO)-compliant measures for protection is something I agree with completely, with one caveat. China is a non-market economy exporting deflation through state-owned and party-sponsored enterprises. So, in the short term (say, during 2016), other temporary protective measures may be justified.

The chief economic advisor said imports (of India and its foreign trade agreement partners) have increased in proportion to the reduction in tariffs due to the agreement. So, India's imports from Asean have gone up more what is going out because India, with higher tariffs, reduced the rates more in percentage points.

The Survey said providing food security entails making food available at affordable prices at all times. I had first analysed this issue in a 2002 paper and suggested a three-tier approach. In urban areas where competitive food supply is available, we should switch to some form of food credit cards. In remote or hilly areas where there may not be many suppliers, we should continue with the full public distribution system (PDS) system. In other areas, a combination of food credit card and competing PDS outlets could be used.

I am very happy that the child nutrition problem has received attention. I had argued that sewage, sanitation and public toilets were the most important cause of this problem in India. However, I think more research needs to be done to determine the other critical elements.

Arvind Virmani
Former chief economic advisor