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


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.


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Sunday, March 27, 2016

9652 - Prepare yourself, financial turbulence ahead - Free Press Journal

— By RN Bhaskar | Mar 23, 2016 12:01 am 

Last fortnight, Paytm, the mobile payments firm, declared that it will increase its seller base on its online marketplace multifold to 500,000 by March 2017, compared to 170,000 currently. To increase its ‘stickiness’ with its customers, it plans to increase its loyalty programmes for its sellers.

Paytm already facilitates around 300 million payment transactions per day and has set a target of 1 billion by 2020. By January 2016, the company’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) stood at $2 billion. It hopes to triple this by March 2017.  Much of this could be from its recharge business, which is a high-volume, low-margin business.

On the back of the increasing smartphone penetration, Paytm has been adding 2 million wallets per month and had 15 million active wallets within 10 months of its launch. The company has already begun to offer its platform to IRCTC to facilitate payments in much the same way it does with customers of Uber cab services.

The irony couldn’t have been greater. Till just five years ago, IRCTC was India’s largest ecommerce company (see table). By 2015 it was selling 181 million tickets online.  Now compare this with startup Paytm. The latter has already begun targeting revenues of around Rs.700 million by the end of this year, through at least 10 million wallet transactions a day, and want to touch the billion-rupee mark before 2020.

Its management was recently quoted in the media stating that while recharges continue to be the single largest business, the company has been witnessing a huge growth in bill payments as well. Almost 20% of its transaction value comes from bill payments.  Paytm’s market dominance is confirmed by Nielsen’s own rankings. It is by far the top mobile payments app.
Few could have anticipated this line of business, or even growth, just five years ago. In fact, there is no reason why a bank could not have done what Paytm has done.  After all, banks are aligned with credit cards, which in turn make payments.  But credit cards displayed the same stodginess that banks generally show. They refused to lower their merchant commissions, and were reluctant to accept micro payments. While this has changed nowadays, the fact is that the stodginess of banks and credit card companies allowed for the emergence of players like Paytm.

One driving force that will continue to propel all financial transactions through the mobile phones will be the cost per transaction. This is because, while banks bear a cost of Rs.40 or more per transaction, mobile phones involve a cost of under 20 paise. With more information on customer usage patterns being now made available through the internet and the mobile phone, with more data on the identity of individuals (thanks to digitisation of identities through Aadhaar) and with increasing public trust in the payment systems that players offer, expect a surge in mobile and web-based transactions in the coming years.

But before anyone lets out a whoop of joy, a couple of warnings need to be put into place.

First, the market urgently requires a regulator for online transactions. The current practice of having an Ombudsman with the RBI may prove to be inadequate. As such payment platforms proliferate, the danger of identity theft, wallet theft and impersonation looms large. Better encryption is one answer. But having a cyber cell that is capable of prompt action, and tracking the source of mischief, is the desperate need of the hour.

The police cybercell is no solution. It is ill-equipped to handle cyber-crime. It often relies on private consultants to deal with some of the most basic tracking solutions. Anecdotal narrations abound about complainants coming to the police with the findings of their own private investigations, which the police then act upon immediately. Unless the cybercell departments of the police and the RBI are strengthened, expect many small people to get duped.

A second issue relates to the misuse of PAN and Aadhaar card information. Currently, it is very easy for anyone to get a new telephone connection using the PAN/Aadhaar details of someone else. Touts who peddle mobile telephone connections offer these services quite brazenly – at a price of course. While the earlier practice was to use someone else’s PAN card details – in collusion with someone within the mobile telephone and courier companies – the new game is to use Aadhaar cards.

Unlike PAN cards, Aadhaar cards do not bear the signature of the holder.  And most Aadhaar cards sport photographs that are barely recognisable – even less so when they are photocopied. There is almost no way for anyone to verify the genuineness of an Aadhaar card holder because the faces on the cards are unrecognisable.

Reissuing Aadhaar cards is too expensive and time-consuming a proposition. But sending out mobile and email alerts each time a new mobile connection or a fresh transaction is registered can considerably reduce the incidence of malpractice. Providing each card holder access to a web page where he or she can view a list of such registrations every day would be an added help.  Fraudulent use of such cards can be detected almost immediately.  It is time to empower each person with the ability to detect fraudulent use of such cards, and report this promptly.  The rapid growth in mobile transactions requires considerable tightening of verification procedures regarding issue of new SIM cards.

Will the government wake up? Or will it wait for a big scam to prod it into action?


The author is consulting editor with FPJ