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 9, 2016

9781 - The Government Should Set Aadhaar’s Parent, UIDAI, Free - The Quint

The Aadhaar Act 2016 not only provides legal backing to the UIDAI but provisions for distancing it from the government, making it a statutory authority. 

(Photo: iStock/ Altered by The Quint)


OPINION | 5 min read

Ashok Pal Singh
Yesterday, 5:29 pm

The progenitor of Aadhaar, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), was born out of the 2009 wedlock between the government and free enterprise, personified by Nandan Nilekani. The union proved a prolific procreator, producing a billion Aadhaars in less than seven years. Freedom, autonomy and enterprise are intrinsic to the UIDAI’s DNA. The relationship – to retain its potency – must now ride the seven-year itch, known to propel a desire to unshackle, to be free and unattached.

The 2016 Aadhaar Act not only provides legal backing to the UIDAI, but provisions for distancing it from the government, making it a statutory authority. Much depends on how the arrangement is configured. There is a case for the government to provide UIDAI the springboard to remain airborne instead of grounding it to business as usual. This will be mutually beneficial to the partners, government and enterprise, as it must be for a relationship to endure with vigour and purpose.

Benefits of Virtual Citizenship

All is not well. A proxy indicator of the malaise is that the UIDAI does not attract talent anymore from within or outside the government. It is fast becoming another government office. As a hub of innovation, these are ominous developments.

Aadhaar is India’s passport to the digital world. Connect with a phone, pay with an electronic bank account, and authenticate with Aadhaar. This three-number magic, trishul or JAM trinity (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar and Mobile number), empowering a billion persons, makes India the first country in the world to have universal citizenship of the virtual world.
Even today, there is absolutely no government service, passport included, for which a physical visit to a government office is not required or that is more efficient than what e-governance is capable of delivering. The UK has just announced at-home visa service in India on the strength of biometrics.


(Photo Courtesy: Aadhar Card Kendra)

  • Aadhaar Act 2016 has provisions to distance it from the government, making it a statutory authority.
  • The UIDAI no longer attracts talent and is on the verge of becoming another government office.
  • Universal citizenship of the virtual world, granted via Aadhaar along with JAM trinity, has empowered a billion citizens.
  • Aadhaar, combined with an army of start-ups, provides India the comparative advantage to lead the information society.
  • More needs to be done in terms of the UIDAI emerging with path breaking ID-based applications.

Utility for Public and Private Sector

It’s all a question of redesigning public and private processes of conducting work/business. The start-ups of the world, demystified, are doing just this. Aadhaar, combined with an army of start-ups, provides India with the comparative advantage to lead the information society. This is a critical headstart which should not be lost by framing UIDAI as a mere government body.
Aadhaar is, by design, a national identity authentication platform for India, and not just for the government of India. For the record, over 200 non-government Authentication User Agencies (AUA’s), bursting with innovative Aadhaar-based applications are becoming operational. Aadhaar is as much for the private as for the public sector.
By making UIDAI a departmental undertaking, it will acquire the DNA of a typical government office which, to cut the chase, is not customer-friendly. It will exert power over its user agencies rather than being a service provider; it will be moribund in reaching out to potential user groups, and it will become self-limiting. Private user agencies will be apprehensive of dealing with a government agency and reluctant to commit to business models that make them dependent on the government. To take an example, will Apple and Samsung adopt Aadhaar notwithstanding the fact that it is far ahead of anything either of the two have on biometrics?

A Unique Achievement
Aadhaar is, above all, a technology platform; the largest biometric project of the world. The biggest and most renowned experts in the field of biometrics sounded cynical about a project of the scale of Aadhaar. Today, most of them admire it for what it has achieved – a billion unique IDs and a state-of-the-art online, real-time biometric authentication platform that works anytime, anywhere!
A traditional government entity cannot keep pace with it. Just look at all the experts who made Aadhaar possible who have since left the organisation. Although many do continue to support it out of passion in their free time.

A Country of Netizens
The UIDAI as a centre of excellence and as a hub of innovation needs to be entrepreneurial and autonomous. Having delivered Aadhaar to the populace, it needs to shift gears to popularise online authentication and partner with service providers, using ID to transform India into a country of netizens. It needs to be a powerhouse of talent, lateral thought, out-of-the-box applications, and path-breaking ID-based applications. It still needs iconic leadership, talent, trust, vision and flexibility to experiment and harness technology.
Much like the government in the USA is seeing the wisdom in letting go of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), having provided it with a legislative anchor, the Government of India should consider letting go of UIDAI in public interest. Nothing in the Aadhaar Act militates against such a possibility. If anything, an unfettered UIDAI would set the stage for more professionally managed execution agencies – a big ticket administrative reform consistent with the promise of minimum government, maximum governance!

(The writer is a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Finance)
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