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.

August 24, 2017: The nine-judge Constitution Bench rules that right to privacy is “intrinsic to life and liberty” and is inherently protected under the various fundamental freedoms enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the World; indeed it's the only thing that ever has"

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” - Edward Snowden

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.


Monday, March 7, 2016

9442 - Aadhaar bill: Click out the missing link - Blog Economic Times

March 5, 2016, 3:02 AM IST Economic Times in ET Commentary | Economy, India | ET

By Ram Sewak Sharma

On Thursday, the government introduced the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, in the Lok Sabha. This rightly aims to firm up the use of Aadhaar for targeted government subsidies.


There is a broad consensus now that the direct benefits transfer (DBT) is the way forward to implement welfare schemes. While the Centre has successfully implemented DBT with regard to LPG subsidy, many states have adopted DBTs in their own programmes. Uttar Pradesh recently introduced DBT in seed distribution.

         The truth is in there

In most cases, Aadhaar is being used, and rightly so, as a common identifier to transfer subsidies to the beneficiaries. But there are cases where DBTs are being implemented without Aadhaar. The assumption may be that Aadhaar is not really needed for DBT, and any system where the benefits flow directly to the bank account of the beneficiary is good enough. This is a fallacious view.

A successful DBT model requires perfect integration of two service delivery platforms: welfare schemes and banking services. This integration can be done either when two systems directly talk to each other, or both latch on to a common platform (indirect coupling).

In case of direct coupling, the beneficiary database will have to have the bank account details of beneficiaries for money transfer. It looks easy to implement. But on a scale involving many delivery domains, it may prove to be cumbersome.
With the number of beneficiaries in millions, there have been two main challenges: to eliminate duplicates and ghosts, and to ensure hassle-free transfer to the intended beneficiary. There is no ID system in the country that can ensure uniqueness except Aadhaar. The only identifier, therefore, that can meet the challenges has to be Aadhaar.

Suppose a certain Ram Kumar Tomar is a beneficiary of three subsidies: LPG, PDS and MGNREGA. Without Aadhaar, he has to provide bank account details to each of the systems. The disadvantage of benefit systems collecting bank account details is that middlemen start gaming the system: money going into somebody else’s account and also money going to one account.
However, if he uses an Aadhaar-linked account, all the benefit systems can transfer money to him using Aadhaar as the financial address and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) as the national payment switch ensuring transfer to the correct beneficiary. He does not need to share his bank account with any beneficiary system. This is being done in LPG-DBT at a massive scale.

The Aadhaar-based common identity platform not only takes care of duplicates and fakes, it also provides an easy and convenient way for the beneficiaries. This identifier becomes a common language across all systems.

Since various government departments are already seeding Aadhaar in their databases to remove fakes and duplicates, there isn’t any need to have separate databases seeded with bank account details.

As it is, seeding account details is cumbersome as different beneficiaries may have accounts with different banks and the department may end up engaging multiple banks for requisite data.

Also, the probability of data-entry errors in account details is quite high as these are long alphanumeric numbers. Once there is an error, the onus of getting it rectified is on the beneficiary. And we know it may take ages. But entry errors using the Aadhaar platform are minimal because of the check digit used in the Aadhaar numbering system.

Aadhaar-based DBT ensures better targeting of subsidies. If a resident avails of both kerosene and LPG subsidy, the government may choose to offer just one or both depending on the need.

Similarly, if someone gets scholarship under two different schemes — say, under a minority and a meritcum-means scholarship programme — requisite corrective action may be taken. Aadhaar also provides transparency and traceability.

An auditor has digital access to end-to-end movement of money from the government to the bank of the beneficiary to ultimate withdrawal, all of which are linked. If this link is not there in the accounts, it will be very difficult to establish the end-to-end usage of these funds.

Kerosene subsidy disbursement in Kotkasim in Rajasthan undertaken a few years ago was not successful because of the absence of a common identifier. It is better, therefore, to implement any DBT scheme with some homework rather than going ahead hastily and then blaming it on the DBT.

Last year’s Economic Survey and Union Budget talked about JAM — Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile — for improving fiscal prudence and bringing efficiency in the delivery system. The powerful JAM trinity can be transformational in its impact. For that to happen, correct usage of all the three is crucial.
Resorting to shortcuts is bound to yield very little. Once compromised, it may be difficult to improve the system later. So, by pushing for the Aadhaar platform for firming up DBT, the government is doing the right thing.

(The writer is chairman, Trai)
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.