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

9769 - A new Aadhaar for Indian diplomacy- Deccan Chronicle

Published
Apr 7, 2016, 1:57 am IST

UIDAI enrolment has touched the one billion mark.


A strategic reimagining of the potential of Aadhaar and UIDAI is necessary

Finally backed by an enabling legislation, the Aadhaar project, the flagship of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), has been further bolstered by news that enrolment has touched the one billion mark. The creation of a database of easily retrievable biometrics and other information of a citizen — or of any resident, really — is an enormous help to government and public agencies as well as private users that may want to build applications and programmes on the Aadhaar number.

Having enrolled so many Indians and while hopefully headed towards universal coverage of Aadhaar, where does UIDAI go from here? Of course, it can remain a public agency responsible for constantly enrolling younger citizens as they are born or after the age of five. And for existing users, as addresses change and as fingerprints lose intensity, UIDAI will have to come up with updates and solutions, including perhaps better fingerprint scanners, those more sensitive to people with relatively difficult-to-pick-up fingerprints. No doubt all this will keep UIDAI and its officials busy with routine work.

Yet, a strategic reimagining of the potential of Aadhaar and UIDAI is necessary. There is a larger market out there, well beyond the shores and borders of India, that it can tap into. 

First, Aadhaar-like services and numbers need to be made accessible to the Indian diaspora. This is particularly so for the working class economic migrants from India who labour hard in West Asia, in the Gulf states, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and so on.

It would be an important tool to establish identities and to link these workers, many of whom earn appreciable incomes but have limited job tenures and long-term social security, to contributory pension and health schemes back home, for when they return. Such mechanisms formed part of the discussion when the Prime Minister travelled to the UAE in August 2015. Logically plans could be extended to Saudi Arabia, which saw an Indian prime ministerial visit in the past week. Subsequently similar facilities could cover Indian diaspora and expatriate communities in other geographies, on a need-based and voluntary basis, but incentivised by specific economic opportunities, conveniences and services.

UIDAI should also look at a broader market, outside of providing free enrolment for Indian citizens, wherever they may be. The UIDAI offers a relatively low-cost solution, backed by the credibility of India’s information technology systems.  Many developing countries may find this more affordable than a similar biometrics-based enrolment programme executed by a Western company. It gives India a comparative advantage, whether it wants to use it as part of the ministry of external affairs’ Development Partnership Administration overseas assistance remit, or as a straightforward commercial product available to governments and public agencies in other countries.

In this, UIDAI and India could learn from Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). Cards offered by NADRA have proved very effective for the ministry of interior as well as other agencies in Pakistan to verify identities, streamline security protocols, track incomes and open bank accounts, and have generally served a host of purposes. After the domestic success of NADRA, one of Pakistan’s most impressive post-9/11 initiatives, the Pakistani agency has gone about securing international clients, including in Bangladesh and in Sri Lanka. It is believed though that the national identity (ID) card contract in Sri Lanka, awarded to NADRA in 2013, is at some risk. The current government in Colombo has been rethinking the idea, but that is beside the point.

India’s rapid UIDAI/Aadhaar enrolment has evoked much interest, not just in developing countries but even in first-world nations that are struggling with similar national database issues. India’s ability to do it relatively cheaply has attracted attention. It makes sense to leverage this. In the Gulf Corporation Council member-countries, for instance, UIDAI could, separately, enrol Indian citizens working there as well as expatriate workers from other countries for their national governments or for the host government, as the case may be.

Alternatively, take countries such as Indonesia and the neighbouring Timor Leste, or indeed the 14 nations that are part of the Forum for India Pacific Cooperation — which the Modi government has reached out to and whose leaders participated in a summit meeting in Jaipur in 2015. In many of these countries, populations are spread out very thin, across remote territories and islands. An exhaustive tabulation of numbers, let alone a compilation of identities, is a logistical challenge. With its experience in the many regions and distant outposts of India, UIDAI could be better suited to delivering such services, at reasonable prices, than a Western competitor. Other than the Pacific Islands, the 54 countries of Africa, again hosted by India at a summit in New Delhi only a few months ago, could be alive to an Indian role or assistance that seeks to export UIDAI’s skill set.

For a start, India should offer UIDAI’s services to other South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries, though one expects geographically distant partners, rather than neighbouring ones, may be easier to persuade. The avenues are many. Which one will lead where remains to be seen. The fact is, however, that Aadhaar and UIDAI are a story of Indian excellence and delivery of a public service that has few global parallels in terms of size, scale and timelines. The government would be doing itself and India a disservice if it didn’t capitalise on this diplomatic opportunity.

The author is senior fellow, Observer Research Foundation. He can be reached at malikashok@gmail.com