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.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

9489 - Domesday 2.0 - Economist

A technological blueprint for better government


Mar 12th 2016 | From the print edition


Your turn now

Rebooting India: Realising a Billion Aspirations. By Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah. Allen Lane; 337 pages; £20.
IN A month or so, India will have registered a billion residents—the latest stage in the creation of a complete identity database of what will soon be the world’s most populous country. Aadhaar, which means “foundation” in Hindi, matches names with fingerprints and iris scans on a scale that has never been seen before. Reimagining government with such technology at its core will be key to meeting the mounting aspirations of India’s citizens, according to two of the scheme’s architects, Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah.

If the Domesday Book, an 11th-century survey of England, was commissioned to raise funds for government, Aadhaar’s most useful purpose is to help their disbursement. Making sure each farmer gets one dose of subsidised fertiliser and all poor families their share of rice is fiendish without knowing who they are. Many of those who are entitled to government handouts live in one of the 600,000 Indian villages with no banking facilities.

Serving the citizenry in a country where 59% of births are not registered, and many people can’t read, is a task that has been a costly failure. Rajiv Gandhi, a former prime minister, once claimed that just 17% of subsidies reached the right people: not so much a leaky bucket as a sieve. A patchwork of rival ID schemes, from driving licences to ration cards, electoral rolls and tax-registration numbers, did not serve the purpose of making each and every citizen visible to the state.

Much debate about public policy is about the principles behind it: which citizens should pay how much tax, for example. “Rebooting India” is a welcome detour to the often-overlooked realities of how these principles translate into reality. A government benefit which requires days of trekking to receive, and then a bribe to unlock, may not feel like much of a benefit at all. Women who can access a subsidy without the involvement of their husbands or brothers are in quite a different position than those who cannot.

Aadhaar is transforming the way many citizens interact with the state. It allows the government to pay benefits directly to over 200m bank accounts linked to its database, so cutting out layers of corrupt and inept middlemen. That will feel much more tangible, to the average Indian, than a tax break here or a new subsidy there. 

“Rebooting India” is at its best when it delves into the veritable sausage-making that is large-scale government IT projects. (Mr Nilekani, one of the authors, knows more than most about what it takes to deliver these, having co-founded and then run Infosys, an Indian IT giant.) How do you coax a reluctant bureaucracy to adopt a new technology that might erode its privileges? How do you resist those who want to turn it into something more comprehensive than just an ID scheme—and therefore make it more likely to fail? Given Aadhaar’s relatively smooth implementation, civil servants across the world would do well to seek inspiration from it.

Its potential is vast but mostly unknown. It is described as a “platform” in which an “ecosystem” can thrive, much like the iPhone is a platform for apps. Beyond subsidy payments, a few such applications for Aadhaar already exist: one allows citizens to track in real time which bureaucrats are physically at their desk. If that is not helpful, other uses that have not yet been thought of undoubtedly will be.

There is the occasional whiff of naivety. The book’s title alone suggests that India’s governing apparatus could be improved if it could just be turned off and on again. And how can a government that is so inept as to need recasting be trusted to avoid the Orwellian possibilities of a billion-strong database? Police have already nagged to get access to its fingerprints and have been rebuffed—for now.

If Aadhaar is indeed as revolutionary as the personal computer, it is frustrating that the second half of the book veers into other ways IT can help deliver government services. The authors’ suggestions on how road tolls or India’s court system could be better run with added tech savvy are correct, but their solutions to other problems, such as managing health records, lack Aadhaar’s elegance.

It is a credit to Aadhaar that the book, while fascinating, feels like primary material for a weightier tome. The high politics of the scheme are glossed over, particularly the election of Narendra Modi halfway through its implementation (Mr Nilekani stood unsuccessfully as an MP for the rival Congress party). The chronicles of a revolution, if indeed this is one, are best not written by the perpetrators.