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

9716 - Aadhaar status check: Nearing a billion & counting but connectivity remains a problem


Aadhaar now has legal backing but it still faces challenges of privacy and data sharing. With enrolment numbers creating history now, we take a look at strengths & weaknesses in the system

Sahil Makkar & Mayank Mishra  |  New Delhi 
April 1, 2016 Last Updated at 00:20 IST


For Chaju Singh, a resident of Haryana's Rohtak district, getting his monthly pension has become a hassle. He has to visit his bank branch every month to claim the amount.

"We spend Rs 100 on travelling to get a monthly pension of Rs 1,000-1,200. It is difficult for pensioners to travel to a bank every month. Even then, the payment is not guaranteed because of frequent authentication failures," says the octogenarian farmer, fondly remembering the earlier system when the village headman or revenue officer would come home and distribute the pension amount.

Singh and many like him are getting used to the change necessitated by the adoption of Aadhaar-enabled platforms to dispense welfare schemes such as pensions, scholarships and direct benefits transfer of, say, domestic cooking gas subsidy.

Each beneficiary is given a 12-digit unique identification number. Biometric details - iris mapping and fingerprints - are digitally tagged to the number to eliminate ghosts and duplicates.

But access to bank branches, banking correspondents (BCs) and automatic teller machines (ATMs) is still limited for millions. In such a case, those entitled to the benefits of welfare schemes under the new regime are going to face a new set of challenges. The government has created a delivery platform without the necessary infrastructure in place, say critics.

"All these things have to happen simultaneously," says Nandan Nilekani, former chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). "In my previous report on payment infrastructure five-six years ago, we had talked about BCs getting adequate commission, which is 3.14 per cent, with a cap of Rs 15 per transaction. That recommendation has not been implemented." That might explain the reason for poor BC penetration.

Notwithstanding the challenges associated with last-mile connectivity, the UIDAI exercise can be called a success. In less than seven years of its existence, it is about to enrol a billion residents. And the milestone has been achieved at a fraction of the cost of similar exercises elsewhere in the world, claim officials.

Nilekani claims the programme also has the potential to save the government nearly Rs 1 lakh crore a year by plugging the loopholes in the system.

But UIDAI's journey has not been smooth. The agency survived seven long years without the backing of a legislation. Critics have targeted the project for compromising on privacy issues. "Aadhaar makes the citizen transparent to the state but makes the state completely opaque and unaccountable to its citizens," says Sunil Abraham, executive director of Bengaluru-based research organisation The Centre for Internet & Society.

The backers of Aadhaar, however, say the system has mechanisms to protect privacy. They argue that biometric details are required to establish identity and it also entails the participation of the individual concerned in the process. Nothing can happen without the individual's consent. If no transaction can take place without his consent, it empowers him, rather than taking away any right, they argue.

"Aadhaar is a true foundation of what some people rightly call the 'India Technology Stack' of paperless, presence-less, cash-less and friction-less governance," says Ram Sewak Sharma, former director-general of UIDAI.

For now, UIDAI is in talks with more government departments to adopt the platform for welfare schemes. It is also in talks with the state governments to adopt Aadhaar as a preferred platform for direct benefits transfer. Currently, the Aadhaar-enabled platform is being used to implement schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, payments of pensions by the Centre, the states and the Employees' Provident Fund Scheme. It is also used by the public distribution system and for the distribution of cooking gas and kerosene subsidies. With a legislation in place now, the coverage is likely to be extended to other schemes.

The government's focus on Aadhaar, however, has taken a toll on the National Population Register (NPR).

The government has spent Rs 4,500 crore to compile the NPR, a precursor to a National Register for Indian Citizen which involves issuing a smart identity card as citizenship proof. According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2003, the Registrar General of India must create this citizens' register and issue identity cards after verifying documents and antecedents.

To expedite the process, the government also allowed UIDAI to collect biometric and demographic details. Initially, UIDAI was tasked with de-duplicating NPR data and generating Aadhaar. It was also supposed to hand over the biometric data to NPR. The expansion of the scope of UIDAI resulted in a bitter turf war among the various arms of the government.

The battle ended with the government on Tuesday notifying the Aadhaar Bill, but other issues remain. The Bill restricts UIDAI from sharing data with any government or private agency, which creates uncertainty about how NPR will get the biometric from UIDAI. In the one-billion enrolment, NPR's contribution is 280 million.

Another challenge of the data collecting agency is to capture biometric and demographic details of the residents of the Northeast for overall inclusion. The progress here has been slow. For example, its penetration in Mizoram and Assam, where the influx of illegal Bangladeshi migrants is considered to be the highest, is less than five per cent.

TWISTS & TURNS IN A GAME OF NUMBERS

2009:
  • The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is established through a Cabinet decision as an attached office to the erstwhile Planning Commission

2010:
  • In September, the first Aadhaar number is generated
2011:
  • In November, then home minister P Chidambaram objects to UIDAI demand of increasing its mandate of enrolling more than 200 million
  • In December, a parliamentary standing committee asks the government to rework the UIDAI Bill-2010
2012:
  • In January the Cabinet rules against the home ministry's objection and allows the UIDAI to enrol 600 million
  • In May, Chidambaram accuses the UIDAI of objecting to National Population Register (NPR) camps; says the UIDAI is not accepting NPR data despite a Cabinet decision
  • In June, Cabinet asks the UIDAI to accept NPR data
2013:
  • In February, then prime minister Manmohan Singh sends the citizenship card scheme to a group of ministers
  • In May, the UIDAI launches e-KYC service
2014:
  • Nilekani quits the UIDAI to contest the general elections on a Congress ticket
  • In July, new Prime Minister Narendra Modi reverses his stand on UIDAI after meeting Nilekani
2015:
  • In September, the UIDAI is attached to the Department of Electronics and Information Technology
2016:
  • In March, the Lok Sabha passes the Aadhaar Bill after rejecting five amendments proposed by the Rajya Sabha; citizenship card scheme is awaiting nod