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 31, 2016

9693 - Hi-tech route to cut subsidy but long road ahead - Business Standard


Digitisation of supply chain for BPL beneficiaries can save Rs 1,080 crore a year but much needs to be done to plug leakages

B Dasarath Reddy  |  Hyderabad 
March 26, 2016 Last Updated at 00:20 IST



A beneficiary provides her fingerprint for biometric verification at a fair price shop in the Krishna district

In this state of information technology professionals, now even a village woman knows how the malfunctioning server in Hyderabad can affect the delivery of subsidised foodgrain to her.

Technical snags can make the queues longer at fair price shops in Andhra Pradesh, even a year after the government pushed for digitisation of the services.

Beneficiaries often find themselves waiting or are asked to return the next day, if the point of sale (POS) device in their neighbourhood fair price shop finds it difficult to access the central server at the Aadhaar database.

In the financial year 2013-14, or FY14, the data of below poverty line (BPL) households were digitised and linked to the Aadhar database. The purpose was to eliminate bogus beneficiaries - who had given a bad reputation to the popular subsidised rice distribution programme of undivided Andhra Pradesh.

From March 2015, in a number of phases, the Biometrically Authenticated Physical Uptake (BAPU) mode was introduced in the public distribution system (PDS) of the state.

Under this model, beneficiaries get themselves identified by scanning their thumbprint or iris on a POS machine while buying a subsidised product such as kerosene or, in this case, rice.
A number of teething problems, too, afflict the BAPU mode in Andhra Pradesh.

Tech boost

As the seeding of BPL cards with Aadhar data eliminated double entries (a family having multiple cards or the same individual getting different cards) just before the bifurcation, the Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu-led government of Andhra Pradesh has quickly rolled out the end-to-end automation of the supply chain of PDS to plug leakage at other levels.

Now, foodgrain can be tracked extensively - right from when it is loaded into trucks at the Food Corporation of India warehouses to the fair price shops. The system also tracks the delivery to the BPL beneficiaries, ensuring that the weight of the product being supplied is accurate.

If a truck carrying PDS goods stops anywhere for more than five minutes, officials concerned will get a message through the global positioning system (GPS) tracker, said Karikal Valaven, the principal secretary of the state, who also holds the additional charge of commissioner, civil supplies department.

Automatic text alerts are sent to the cardholders as soon as the foodgrain stock lands at the fair price shop.

While presenting the Budget for the next financial year (2016-17) on February 29, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the automation of 300,000 of the total 535,000 fair price shops in the country over the year. The model draws heavily from the system in Andhra Pradesh - which has demonstrated the possibility of a big saving in the subsidy bill.

At the ground level

The automation was first tried out in the Krishna district, about 280 km southeast of Hyderabad, the currently common capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. It was then replicated all over the state.

District Collector Babu Ahmed had spearheaded the digitisation of the PDS in Krishna. He has done a cost benefit analysis, besides measuring the savings that have accrued from the reduced off-take of rice and other items each month.

The district administration, claims Ahmed, was able to save Rs 56.13 crore in the 10 months starting May 2015. Between March and May, all 2,162 fair price shops in the district were linked to the new system.

"We were able to save Rs 8.5 crore in the first month of automation, which translates into a 180-per cent return on the Rs 7-crore investment we made on the equipment and processes," Ahmed told Business Standard.

He added the rice bill in the Krishna district was down by 15 per cent.

"There were irregularities in the past. But we are cooperating with the officials in implementation of the ePoS system now," said V Niraja, the owner of a fair price shop at the Chittinagar area in Vijayawada.

Dealers have to complete the distribution of rice and other commodities within the first 10 days of a month. The online records of Niraja's shop showed a closing balance of 14.5 quintals of rice of 127 quintals allotted for March. So, there was an 11-per cent saving on account.

Until a year ago, there was no proper mechanism to keep track of the unsold stocks. This was believed to be the biggest source of corruption.

Now, the residual stock cannot be the dealers, who used to assume fictitious names to do so in the past.

However, there seem to be other types of leakages that go unnoticed right under the nose of the new system. Many BPL beneficiaries claim their quota of rice for Rs 1 a kg, but sell it to middlemen for Rs 10 a kg.

Thanks to automation, the closing stock makes up for the savings in the subsidy bill.

But, it is not all hunky-dory.

People claim that new corrupt practices are taking root. Shopkeepers can put weights in packets of rice and evade detection. They also use pre-packaged rice bags to generate bills, but later use manual weighing machines to deliver the goods to the beneficiaries.

Dealers have a few complaints of their own. They claim that the commission they get at present is not enough to run their shops.

Simple savings math

A look at the monthly cost benefit of about 30,000 fair price shops across the 13 districts of the state will tell us how much Andhra Pradesh can save in its subsidy bill.

The digitised system generates data of real-time stock positions in each shop. According to the data available, about 2,951 tonnes of rice was saved in April last year - just a month after the Krishna district stated rolling out the automation.

The figure rose to 5,582.43 tonnes in May, when the entire district had been covered.

In October, the amount of rice saved had jumped to 20,575 tonnes. And, in February this year, it peaked to 29,593 tonnes.

"Of the fixed monthly requirement of 221,000 tonnes of rice, we were able to save 30,000 tonnes in February. If this remains constant the total saving a year would be over 13 per cent of the total rice subsidy," an official of the civil supplies department told Business Standard.

Based on the closing balance of stocks, the civil supplies department calculated a savings of Rs 100.42 crore for the state and Rs 370.21 crore for the Centre in the 11 months starting April last year.

If the quantum of the savings in February can be maintained, the combined savings of the state and the Centre would be about Rs 90 crore a month, and a whopping Rs 1,080 crore for the year. The Centre and the state together spend Rs 30,000 on every tonne of rice, including the cost of storage and transportation.

More can be done

The savings could be even bigger if the state followed the Union government's footsteps to determine the percentage of poor people in the total population, as was calculated for the implementation of the National Food Security Act, claim analysts.

When Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was the chief minister (2004-2009), the number of BPL cards in the state touched 22.9 million - more than the total number of households in Andhra Pradesh.

After the bifurcation, the number of cards in the truncated Andhra Pradesh was 13.7 million, or 67.15 per cent of the total number of cards in the combined state.

This number came down to 12.9 million after 800,000 cards were deleted from the list during the Aadhar seeding in 2013-14 and then rose beyond the level of pre-Aadhar period to 14 million as the new government issued 1.14 million fresh BPL cards in January this year.

This number remains unchanged except the removal of about 400,000 individuals from the existing list very recently. Each individual is entitled to 5 kg of rice a month.

Now, about 43 million of the 49.38 million people in the state (according to Census 2011) - about 87 per cent - are covered by the 14 million BPL cards.

Based on the perception that 60 per cent of the rural and 40 per cent of the urban population deserve to be covered under the National Food Security Act, the Centre has taken the responsibility of providing subsidised rice to 26.8 million people (54 per cent of the state's population) in Andhra Pradesh. It will bear the cost of 144,000 tonnes of rice at the rate of Rs 23,600 per tonne per month. The Andhra Pradesh government is adding Rs 6,400 per tonne - and providing rice at Rs 1 per kg to BPL families.

The cost of supplying subsidised rice to the remaining people in the BPL list is being borne by the state government.

For the full year, the total subsidy bill on rice alone works out to about Rs 7,956 crore. The Centre's contribution to it is Rs 4,078 crore; the balance Rs 3,878 crore comes from the state exchequer.

The volume of rice being pumped into the PDS over and above the Centre's quota costs Rs 2,772 crore to the state government.

Asked why the administration has not broadened its ongoing drive to give subsidised rice or BPL cards to genuinely deserving families, a senior officer said that it was a political call.

Even after the hi-tech boost, the road to full and just delivery remains a long one.
WELFARE BILL

A year after the Andhra Pradesh government pushed for digitisation of the public distribution system, the disbursal of subsidised rations is far from smooth:

14 million
Total number of BPL cards

43 million
People covered

2.65 million tonnes
Total rice allocation per year

Rs 7,690 crore
Total annual subsidy bill for rice (at the rate of Rs 29,000 per tonne)

Note: Approximately another Rs 700 crore subsidy is required on sugar, wheat and kerosene