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.


Friday, April 1, 2016

9706 - How India has changed - Management Today

By Andrew Wileman Thursday, 31 March 2016



How India has changed
Rebooting India is an uplifting account of a transformative government IT project. It makes The Tears of the Rajas about imperial rule in India feel a long time ago.

Rebooting India is one of the most inspiring books I've read in years. Given that its subject matter is a government IT project, that might also be one of the most surprising sentences I've written in years. In the UK, the phrase 'government IT projects' just generates massive grumpy old man rage. Put it into Google and you get a torrent of 'Why do all government IT projects seem to fail?' headlines. Take government IT and combine it with another depressing topic, the public sector in India - infamous for horrible corruption, hopeless inefficiency and pointless bureaucracy - and you have Rebooting India. So how can that ghastly combination tell an inspiring story?

Nandan Nilekani is co-founder of Infosys. Time magazine calls him 'the Bill Gates of Bangalore', and includes him in a list of the 100 most influential people in the world. (Declaring an interest, I know Nandan a little personally, after 20 years in Bangalore IT.) Since Infosys, his project for the past five years has been the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) - a government agency whose mission is to provide every Indian with a 12-digit Aadhaar number (Aadhaar means 'foundation' or 'base' in Hindi). This number gives them a unique verifiable identity, based on a small set of demographic and biometric data.
And what's amazing is that the UIDAI has almost completed its mission! Over a billion of India's 1.25 billion people have had their names, addresses and birth dates recorded, been fingerprinted and iris-scanned, been 'de-duplicated' to check their data sets are unique, and received their Aadhaar numbers. Now all they need to prove who they are is to quote that number and be biometrically checked, and that's true even if they are completely illiterate and their address is 'the shack by the large mango tree behind the post office'.
This is an amazing feat. It has overcome political and bureaucratic resistance. It has generated technological breakthroughs such as the massive computing needed to store and de-duplicate a billion iris scans.

The authors (Nandan's techie co-author, Viral Shah, also worked at UIDAI) see the programme as a platform for delivering multiple services. At least a third of India's welfare spending is siphoned off or lost before it reaches intended recipients. But an Aadhaar number can allow even the poorest disconnected citizen to open a micro bank account in their village and receive welfare payments. Such direct benefit transfers can also eliminate inefficient and corruption-ridden subsidies for essentials. On these two fronts, over 200 million Aadhaar numbers are already linked to bank accounts; and the old LPG cooking fuel subsidy (PAHAL) is paid as a direct bank transfer to 140 million consumers.

How has the UIDAI achieved so much so quickly - and at such a reasonable cost, not much over $1bn to date, $1 per enrolment? The authors pick out a few reasons. Aadhaar was kept as a 'thin solution', resisting mission creep; it stuck to its objective of establishing a unique verifiable identity. It adopted a start-up approach, having a core team of around 300, bringing in contractors as needed, and buying off-the-shelf technology. Politically, the Aadhaar number was never to be mandatory for any interaction with government - so it could operate in parallel with existing systems. (This non-mandatory nature has been upheld by the Supreme Court, but is under pressure from the Modi government.)

The authors go on to lay out a manifesto for how India can be comprehensively transformed by applying similar technology-led programmes. With breathtaking hubris but also disarming energy and optimism, they say that an A-Team 'of 100 carefully selected individuals can fix all the problems that ail India'. Wow! If, like I have, you've suffered Bangalore's infrastructure nightmare for 20 years, you'd think, that's nuts, India is unsolvable. But after reading the Aadhaar story, you think, well, maybe that's right, mad though it sounds.

MT threw another newish India book on my pile, for a bit of compare-and-contrast - The Tears of the Rajas. It's about the latter East India Company era, 1805 to the company's dissolution in 1858 and the start of The Raj. It is classic Boy's Own Paper stuff, full of manly cavalry charges, horrible mutual atrocities, and the underlying scramble for filthy lucre. It is actually a very good read. The main feeling is how distant that not-very-distant time now feels. In my lifetime, British India has become as remote a concept as the Roman Empire.
How about a bit of modern reverse colonialism? Maybe Nandan and Viral could pop over and fix the UK's government IT projects? We could do with some thin solutions over here.

Rebooting India: Realizing a Billion Aspirations by Nandan Nilekani & Viral Shah is published by Allen Lane, £20

The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905 by Ferdinand Mount is published by Simon & Schuster, £25
Andrew Wileman is a consultant, and the author of Driving Down Cost