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.

Friday, March 25, 2016

9635 - What Nandan Nilekani Needs to Learn - WSJ

Mar 12, 2014 2:59 pm IST

Chairman and founder member of Infosys, Nandan Nilekani. MANJUNATH KIRAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Nandan Nilekani once had access to more information about Indian’s billion-plus citizens than possibly anybody else in the country as the head of the ambitious biometric identification card system.

Before that, he helped set up India’s software and outsourcing giant, Infosys. Now, the techie-turned-bureaucrat is turning to politics.

How will his previous experience in the country’s I.T. hub and at the heart of a major national government program, translate into politics and help him win Bangalore south for the ruling Congress party?

Mr. Nilekani has certainly made a savvy move in his choice of constituency. If Bangalore is the I.T. capital of India, the south of the city is its heart: a magnet for the country’s technology professionals because of its proximity to the big I.T. firms.
His record at Infosys, where he was instrumental in the meteoric rise of the company while chief executive officer for five years from 2002, will likely appeal to those residents. During Mr. Nilekani’s tenure, Infosys saw a four-fold jump in annual revenue to $3.1 billion.

Suresh Babu Modi, a software professional with a U.S.-based multinational I.T. firm, who lives in Bangalore south has switched allegiance from the Bharatiya Janata Party because Mr. Nilekani is in the race.

“Nandan Nilekani is really an iconic figure in the IT sector,” Mr. Modi said.  “Irrespective of the company I work for, or the software service I offer, or the party that Nilekani belongs to, I support him.”

Still, others say his lack of political experience in the face of a formidable opponent in Ananth Kumar, a five-time member of Parliament for the principal opposition BJP, may prove a serious challenge.

Mr. Nilekani will need to build a connection with the common people, something that might not come as easily to him as forming a client  relationship at Infosys, some say.
“Nilekani’s expertise at Infosys lies in building business-to-business relationships, not business-to-consumer ties,” said Ruthvik Ganjur, a project engineer with software exporter Wipro.

In politics, he will have to develop the skills to directly deal with consumers, or rather voters, said Mr. Ganjur, who will also be voting in the seat Mr. Nilekani coverts.

But Mr. Ganjur adds, Mr. Nilekani’s experience might help him connect with the aspirational tech-savvy younger generation.
His time overseeing the Aadhar system of issuing a 12-digit unique I.D. number to every citizen of India, a program which has been criticized recently by the BJP for threatening national security could count against him, others say.
“For the last few years, we have seen how Aadhaar issue has been going on. It’s not much of a success,” said Aabha Gopal, a project manager with a U.S.-based software company.
Aadhar is designed to help those who have no other form of portable I.D., such as a passport or driving license, to enable them to access banking and government services.
But India’s Supreme Court ruled last year that it is not mandatory for access to benefits such as subsidized gas cylinders, fertilizer, or food grain, leading many to question the point behind it.
Mr. Nilekani’s candidature for the Congress party itself might also be a drawback considering the allegations of corruption that the party faces, Mr. Gopal added.
Another executive with a U.S.-based software firm, who is also a resident of south Bangalore agreed. “Nilekani is the right person in the wrong party,” the executive said.
Mr. Nilekani’s “magic touch” with Infosys might just be limited to the corporate world, “it’s a different ballgame to run a company of 150,000 employees” and overseeing a larger set of the population, the executive said, adding that employees can be hand-picked, voters cannot.

Follow Dhanya and India Real Time on Twitter @DhanyaThoppil and @WSJIndia