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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Friday, April 8, 2016

9768 - What Modi Has Done Right And Wrong On Aadhaar - NDTV


Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo

On Tuesday, a poignant landmark was reached when the Unique Identification Authority of India crossed the generation of a billion Aadhaar cards. With nearly 80 percent of the population covered under the scheme, Aadhaar is the world's largest biometric database and the first online biometric-based identity system in the world.

Enabling Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) through the Aadhaar has been a game-changer in providing subsidies and entitlements across the country. Leakages in the provision of subsidies had become an accepted reality that was borne by the poor and vulnerable. Aadhaar presents the opportunity to not only augment state capacity in delivering subsidies, but to also have a transformative effect on the living standards of the poor.

From the beginning, the Aadhaar scheme has been the center of a political tussle. Introduced through an executive order in 2009 and followed by the National Identification Authority of India Bill in 2010, the scheme was the brainchild of the UPA Government.

The Bill was met with fierce opposition from social activists and the Standing Committee on Finance. The NDA, then in opposition, criticized the Aadhaar scheme vehemently by calling it a "fraud" and "something to be ashamed of". On the other hand, the UPA Government used the scheme to influence voters during the first phase of the Direct Benefit Transfer in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

While the duty of a responsible Opposition is to constructively debate legislation, the political maneuvering of the Aadhaar cannot be separated from the actions of both the UPA and the NDA governments. The initial hostility, followed by pioneering the scheme in both Houses of Parliament makes the actions of the government questionable. Both governments have used and misused the scheme to their benefit, and have in the process compromised the interests of the public.

Good governance is not defined by good ideas and intentions. It is a function of political will and execution. The original DBT scheme, PAHAL, for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) subsidies, launched in 2013, failed to stand its ground amidst strong criticism from the opposition, social activists and the judiciary. Modified and re-launched by the NDA government in November 2014, it has proven to be a thundering success resulting in savings of roughly 30 percent in the last year itself. Leveraging the Aadhaar, the Government has managed to kill two birds with one stone - the problem of leakages and mis-targeting.

Aadhaar is the world's largest biometric database and the first online biometric-based identity system in the world (Reuters photo)

While the credit for conceiving and evolving the Aadhaar rests with the UPA, the implementation of the scheme has to be attributed to the efforts of the NDA. Ultimately, Modi is a better communicator and can withstand pressure from vested interests and parties while passing key legislation.

The introduction and passage of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha however has woken legislators and the public to the other side of the Aadhaar debate. Tabling the Bill as a "money bill" to limit the role of the Rajya Sabha establishes a dangerous precedent (this meant the Rajya Sabha could only recommend changes, which were then over-ruled by the Lok Sabha, where the government has a huge majority). The objective of the Bill is not just the transfer of subsidies, but also the identification and targeting of beneficiaries. The advantages of biometric technologies end at human interface. Therefore, Aadhaar holds equal relevance in the prevention of leakages and weeding out ineligible beneficiaries.

Debate and discussion are the basic tenets of parliament. By bypassing the Rajya Sabha, the government failed to gain a better perspective on the objectives and implementation of the Bill. Examination of the Bill by a Select Committee could have brought forth recommendations that would make the Bill more effective and long lasting.

Issues of mandatory registration, privacy, security and confidentiality of information still remain unresolved and violate the faith citizens have vested in the government in regards to their personal identifiable information. The government has willfully disregarded the orders of the Supreme Court that the Aadhaar card cannot be made mandatory. Further, sharing of personal information in the "interest of national security", a term that remains undefined, flouts privacy of individuals.

The political debate surrounding the Aadhaar legislation has also taken away from problems of implementation being faced by the scheme. The absence of regular power and internet connectivity, authentication failures and inadequate infrastructure is depriving millions of individuals from their rightful entitlements. As the government is moving to the Supreme Court to extend the Aadhaar to all welfare schemes, it must focus on the issues plaguing its very objectives.

The essence of a multi-party system is to deliberate and reach a consensus on policy issues and legislations that reflect the views and protect the interests of both the majority and minority. Disregarding the opinions of the opposition, violating the orders of the judiciary and discounting the interests of the public are in conflict with the principles of democracy.

(Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo is a second-time sitting Member of Parliament from Bolangir in Odisha and a prominent leader of the Biju Janata Dal.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
First Published:April 06, 2016 19:38 IST