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


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


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 19, 2016

9570 - My vote, my only identity — migrants’ plight - The Hindu

The Hindu

Nearly 40,000 Assamese migrants live in Uttar Pradesh in deplorable conditions. Their biggest grouse is that despite carrying valid ID cards, they are still being labelled as Bangladeshis. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Fear of being struck off voters’ lists and branded Bangladeshis haunts the poverty-stricken migrants.

Ismael left the Brahmaputra plains for Lucknow around 15 years ago hoping for a better livelihood. Back home in Assam’s Barpeta district, he had to struggle as a farm labourer on abysmally low wages.

In the Uttar Pradesh capital, following the path of other Assamese migrants, Ismael took to rag-picking for a living. Though in Lucknow he is assured of a relatively stable income, even if low, and is safe from the violence of the ethnic Bodo movement, he has to subsist in deplorable conditions.
However, hundreds of kilometres away from home, far from the economic considerations that led to his initial migration, his biggest concern is the fear of losing his Indian citizenship. It is this threat of “identity crisis” and State persecution that drives him to vote in every election. And in a few days time, Ismael, along with hundreds of other Assamese migrants living in Lucknow’s slums, will make a 36-hour train journey passing through Kokrajhar — the district notorious for Bodo violence — to cast his vote in the upcoming Assam Assembly elections.
“If I do not vote, they will strike my name off the voter’s list (in Assam) and term me a defaulter. I will be branded a Bangladeshi and all chaos will descend upon my life,” says Ismael, who is in his mid-thirties.

Bottom of the pile

Poverty, unemployment and the destruction caused by floods have forced thousands of Assamese to flee the State over the past three decades. The migration peaked with the violence of the Bodoland movement. NGO Vigyan Foundation estimates that 50,000-60,000 Assamese migrants live in Lucknow.
Once cut-off from the electoral list, getting re-enrolled is a painful exercise, says Mohammad Qasim, who once sold jute products in Assam.

“‘Where were you during the time of voting — Bangladesh?’ This is how they taunt us if we are absent. We have to spend a lot of money and make many trips to get our names re-enlisted. If we do not have a valid ID, we are harassed as Bangladeshis, and sometimes even picked up as terrorists,” says Mr. Qasim.
Iddis Ali (21), who hails from Bongaigon district, adjoining Kokrajhar, is one of the few who has managed to go to college. An art student at the DAV college, he hopes to secure a stable job some day, away from the shambles of rag-picking.
With the BJP intensifying its campaign against “illegal Bangladeshi immigrants” in the Assam elections, these migrants are more determined to make the journey home this time.
However, the trip is not only tedious — besides that Bodo militants have been known to sabotage trains — but also dents the pocket of the impoverished migrants.

Worry over displacement
One migrant Hazrat Ali, 35, recently sold his trolley to fund his two-way journey. “The threat of being de-franchised is our major concern. But it is also our responsibility to vote,” said Iddis, who will vote in his first State election. He favours Badruddin Ajmal’s AIUDF, which also sent aid to the slum when it was ravaged by a fire last November. While administrative conditions hinder the transfer of their voter cards to Lucknow, most are unwilling to adopt the local identity as they fear an impending displacement, that would rob them of their roots. Many of their families live back in Assam.

“If I am removed from my roots, I will lost my identity as everywhere else I would be looked upon as a Bangladeshi,” said Iddis. In UP, Assamese migrants are also found in Jhansi, Kanpur, Meerut, Ghaziabad and Gorakhpur. Not only do their physical and linguistic resemblance to Bangladeshis make them easy targets of police harassment, the politics over their identity also restricts their entitlements as citizens, experts say. Sandeep Khare, Vigyan Foundation secretary, and Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey, who have both worked for the improvement of the migrants’ conditions, concur that by terming these migrants as “Bangladeshis”, the administration abdicates all responsibilities of giving them entitlements of a citizen. In contrast, the migrants play a major role in keeping the city clean. Mr. Khare estimates that these migrants contribute around 60 percent of the garbage cleaning in Lucknow but are themselves subjected to wretched conditions and little official protection. “Most of them are bound to thekedars, who have 10-15 rag pickers under them. Some families may work independently most are dependent on the thekedars, who exploit them through un-repaid loans—it works in the frame of bonded labour,” Mr. Khare said.

Mr. Pandey says the Bangladeshi tag gives the administration a “convenient excuse” to take their hands-off from these migrants.