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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Saturday, April 2, 2016

9714 - I have long said we need a privacy law but Aadhaar has safeguards: Nandan Nilekani - Business Stanbdard

Interview with former chairman of UIDAI
April 1, 2016 Last Updated at 00:19 IST

Former chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Nandan Nilekani, tells Nitin Sethi and Sahil Makkar how Aadhaar could become the spine for alternative banking and could replace government services with cash benefits. Edited excerpts:

The Congress, which had introduced the UIDAI, is now opposing the Aadhaar Bill…

I don’t want to get into the political discussion. The fact of the matter is that the vision of Aadhaar was a UPA vision. It began in 2006 and, in 2009, they notified the UIDAI and appointed me in July 2009. They gave me the complete support to implement it. By the time I stepped down, over 300 million were getting Aadhaar-linked DBT cash transfers. I think they (UPA) gave UIDAI a great foundation. They had the vision to start the scheme and the NDA has the wisdom to continue the scheme. It’s truly a bipartisan instrument.

Have you needed to talk to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convince him about the scheme?

I met the PM once on July 1, 2014 after the elections and discussed with him what Aadhaar can do. He had a fairly good idea because he had implemented it in Gujarat. After that I had no further discussion with him.

What transpired in the meeting that Modi who was initially opposed to Aadhaar made a complete u-turn?
I will not give myself too much credit. I think PM is very technology-savvy person who understands how to use technology for governance and so on. My meeting was to tell him my point of view and what I have learnt doing the project. 

Do you think we need a separate privacy law as opposition parties have been voicing privacy concerns in the current Aadhaar Bill?  

I was the first person to ask for a privacy law. When I came to government then I wrote a letter to then Prime Minister in May 2010 stating that we need a privacy law for Aadhaar and many other things. You have issue of phone tappings and more and more organisations are collecting data like health care records and financial records. We need an overall privacy law for the country. As far as Aadhaar is concerned, it is best in class in terms of privacy protection. The Aadhaar Bill clearly limits the usage of data and it can be shared only with the consent of the user. These are strong and robust privacy protection measures. 

The criticism is that a joint secretary can ask for data in the name of national interest. Shouldn’t the government take prior permission of the court?

It is in the interest of national security, which is different from national interest. The database can be opened if there is a national security situation. There are lots of safeguards. Decision of a joint secretary has to be ratified by three-member committee. There are checks and balances in the Bill. In the name of national security whoever takes the decision has to justify the decision.

You have recently written that Aadhaar can provide spine for the alternative banking system. How feasible it is given the credit crunch in the market?

The current banking system will take many years to unwind. This crisis has been created by about 50 institutions — 25 banks on one side and 25 business groups on other side. And if you put all the agencies on the bankers be it CBI, ED, CVC, SC, television anchors and all that I guess you are freezing the decision making ability of bankers. They will neither give loans nor settle old loans. 

So, we have created an extended freeze of the banking system, which means if the banking system is frozen from giving credits then the wheels of business will not work. This is not the problem which you solve through monetary or fiscal policy. This is like pouring sands into wheels of growth. What I proposed through my article was that with technology you can build a delivery system on to a small business or consumer’s smart phone, where he can get his loans approved in a minute using data and algorithm. 

Coming back to your question whether there is enough capital to fund this, in my view there is a lot of fresh capital. For example, 21 new banks which are coming up will bring in fresh capital. There are lots of healthy incumbents; there are lots of NBFCs coming in. There will be no shortage of lending if you have robust lending system. My suggestion involves alternate capital and alternate consumption by small businesses, consumers and world class technology driven ecosystem. I mean you have to have a plan B. How will you get a high economic growth until you create multiple channels of credit delivery?

The last mile banking correspondent (BC) is not functioning on the ground. Are we putting technology before putting other infrastructure?

All these things have to happen simultaneously. In my previous report on payment infrastructure five-six years ago, we had talked about BCs to get adequate commission which is 3.14% with a cap of Rs 15 per transaction. That recommendation has not been implemented. If you don’t give adequate commission to the BCs through consumers, and instead give it through banks we will not even know if the commission is reaching the BCs. Hundreds and thousands BCs will come up if the commission is directly paid to them through the consumers. 

The consumers can be provided this commission amount along with their other payments or subsidies. 

What is the one billion figure means to you personally?  

It is satisfying feeling that it in five-six years it has become a live project with billion users from a well-drafted cabinet note.

What are the three big steps required for the Aadhaar to actually take off besides enrolling one billion people?

One thing is to get every subsidy like kerosene, LPG, food and fertilizer in the country to either a cash transfer or BAPU (biometric authentication for physical update) kind of transaction at the Central level and electricity and water at the state level. Then buy the wheat and rice at the market price and give cash support to the farmer through DBT. 

Second is the use of Aadhaar platform to create high volume low cost technology enabled credit distribution infrastructure, which will provide credit to those who don’t get credit today. 

Third is using Aadhaar for India stat, which allows doing authentication, KYC, and digital storage, to see how India’s government and business can be re-imagined to make it paperless, presence-less and cashless. This will have dramatic impact on productivity, inclusion and economic growth.       

As we move forward, do you think Aadhaar be made mandatory?

The government is having the right approach, where Aadhaar is voluntary. It is like having a passport, if you want to travel abroad you need a passport or to drive you need a driving license. Similarly, if you want a subsidiary from the government you need Aadhaar. It is a perfectly reasonable argument.

Are saying it should be mixed, where government services are involved it should be made mandatory?  

No. Only where the subsides are involved. If the government wants to streamline the subsidy system, genuine people get the benefits, there is no corruption and wastage is eliminated so that’s a reasonable exemption.  

So for services like marriage certification, land records it should not be made mandatory?

I would look at the things where there are some value additions. For land registration one can still argue that it will reduce benami transactions.  

Do you foresee the prospects of your coming back to the politics?

I have done my bit and I had an excellent stint. I think it is time for me to go back to private life.