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.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

9518 - Everything’s official about Aadhaar now - Live Mint

Last Modified: Mon, Mar 14 2016. 03 24 PM IST

Everything’s official about Aadhaar now

Lok Sabha has approved Aadhaar Bill. Since it’s a money bill, Rajya Sabha cannot exercise a veto: in effect, Aadhaar can be used in official dealings now

Purists might object that the government chose to introduce it as a money bill to evade a rebuff by the Rajya Sabha, but then sometimes politics is all about bold initiatives. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

On Friday, the Lok Sabha stamped its overwhelming approval on the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill. Since it is a money bill, the Rajya Sabha cannot exercise a veto. It is for all practical purposes just short of becoming law.

In effect, 985.16 million holders of the 12-digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India are on the verge of having their Aadhaar card endowed with legal backing. So far, its legitimacy had been based on a notification issued by the erstwhile Planning Commission. Critics railed against this rather casual approach, and rightly so—to a body which is the repository of key personal information of individuals and therefore risks breach of privacy—and used this to challenge the legitimacy of Aadhaar in the Supreme Court.

What the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government did on Friday was to delink the two battles. By giving Aadhaar statutory backing they made it legal, restricting the ongoing dispute in the Supreme Court to concerns of privacy (which can also be dealt with adequately if the government brings forward legislation aimed at protecting privacy of information, conceived during the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, but deftly consigned to the bureaucratic maze).

This is a big deal. Effectively, it means that Aadhaar can be used in official dealings. It is a key part of the “JAM Trinity”—Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile—that will drive the government’s ambitious plan of a technology-enabled, real-time direct benefits transfer system.

In the first stage, JAM dealt with the transfer of cooking gas subsidies directly to the accounts of customers. Since the coordinates are so specific, the use of JAM reduced leakages rather dramatically—by 25%. However, extending this experiment to other benefits was becoming an issue—partly because there was a last-mile challenge of financial inclusion, and also the legitimacy issue surrounding Aadhaar. With the latter fixed, the government can now focus its energies on pushing the last mile on financial inclusion.

A key to this is payment banks, 19 of which were granted licences by the Reserve Bank of India last year, including Airtel M Commerce Services Ltd, part of Bharti Airtel Ltd, which has a customer base of nearly 240 million, and the department of posts, with about 150,000 post offices, nearly 140,000 in rural areas.

To them, Aadhaar as an e-identity is key to keeping transaction costs down and thereby providing a business model to financial inclusion. But this came under a cloud following the legal challenge in the apex court; presumably, this will end once Aadhaar becomes law (the Rajya Sabha has to return the bill in a fortnight from now).

The journey of Aadhaar has come a full circle and, technically, has had the backing of three regimes—the NDA under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the two-term UPA led by Manmohan Singh and now the Narendra Modi-led NDA. In that sense it is a rare piece of legislation on which there is political consensus among the two major national parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.

Its genesis lies with the first NDA government, when the idea was mooted to provide a citizenship card. A group of ministers under then home minister L.K. Advani suggested the creation of a multipurpose national identity card. Like all proposals this bobbed around the system and was eventually inherited by the UPA—which is where it started assuming the shape of Aadhaar.
A pilot project for the use of a unique identification card for those below the poverty line was kicked off under the aegis of Arvind Virmani, then principal adviser in the Planning Commission. It went through various hoops and eventually found fruition in UPA-2, when Singh, in a bold move, inducted Infosys founder Nandan Nilekani to head the project.

It is another story altogether as to how internal wrangling within the UPA-2 cabinet all but sabotaged the idea and creation of Aadhaar. To Nilekani’s credit, he managed to steer it through, but failed to convince his political bosses to push hard enough for statutory backing (and, of course, the BJP, then in the opposition, played its part by bouncing it around in parliamentary committees).

Once again, the Aadhaar legislation was at the risk of being pipped at the post, especially with the Congress determined to undermine the passage of legislation in the upper house. Purists might object that the government chose to introduce it as a money bill to evade a rebuff by the Rajya Sabha, but then sometimes politics is all about bold initiatives (check out the antics of the Underwoods in season 4 of the TV series House of Cards to get a sense of realpolitik).

Anil Padmanabhan is deputy managing editor of Mint and writes every week on the intersection of politics and economics.
Comments are welcome at capitalcalculus@livemint.com His Twitter handle is @capitalcalculus