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.

August 24, 2017: The nine-judge Constitution Bench rules that right to privacy is “intrinsic to life and liberty” and is inherently protected under the various fundamental freedoms enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the World; indeed it's the only thing that ever has"

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” - Edward Snowden

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.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

9837 - The LPG puzzle by Jairam Ramesh - Indian Express

The LPG puzzle by Jairam Ramesh

Whichever way one slices the data, it is clear that claims of a Rs 15,000 crore saving in LPG subsidy solely through Aadhaar are erroneous.


Written by Jairam Ramesh | Published:April 13, 2016 12:01 am


Arun Jaitley, during the discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the Aadhaar bill, claimed that a sum of Rs 14,672 crore was saved in LPG subsidy for the year 2014-15 under the direct benefits transfer scheme.

Eugene Wigner, the great physics Nobel laureate, once said that in national politics, the truth is often less popular than a clever lie. Thus it has been with the manner in which the Aadhaar legislation has been pummelled through Parliament. 

In today’s technology jargon, then PM Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were astute political venture capitalists in wholeheartedly backing a radically innovative start-up in 2009: The Aadhaar project. Irony died a thousand deaths when in the current charged environment of purported anti-national university campuses, Aadhaar is being hailed by the BJP’s minister of finance, Arun Jaitley, while a standing committee led by the BJP’s own former finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, rejected Aadhaar as an anti-national project in 2011. That committee devoted an entire section in its report to “national security vs UID” and insinuated that Aadhaar aided illegal immigrants and infiltration from across the borders. 

When the principal opposition party, the Congress, supports the Aadhaar law in much of the letter and all of the spirit, it is suspiciously mischievous of the government to mischaracterise, mislead and misinform the people about Aadhaar in its conniving attempts to pass the bill.

The government’s too-clever-by-half strategy of calling the Aadhaar bill the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill was an obvious ploy to subvert discussion in the Rajya Sabha by deeming it a money bill. The word “finance” needed to be sneaked into the main element of the bill and hence this title. 

To target delivery of subsidies, it is imperative to first determine who is eligible for that subsidy. This can be done only with income and other such information, which is outside the domain of the Aadhaar programme. When confronted by privacy sceptics, proponents of Aadhaar defended it under the guise of the Aadhaar database having only demographic information of individuals. 

But now, as per the bill, Aadhaar’s only purpose is to “target” those individuals for subsidies. Either Aadhaar is an innocuous tool to verify the identity of a person or it can glean private information to target individuals for benefits. It cannot be both. Which one is it, Mr Finance Minister?

The finance minister, during the discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the Aadhaar bill, claimed that a sum of Rs 14,672 crore was saved in LPG subsidy for the year 2014-15 under the direct benefits transfer scheme. The prime minister had publicly claimed a similar savings of Rs 15,000 crore in LPG subsidy. The finance minister and his officials were confronted with evidence by independent, globally reputed think-tanks of savings on LPG subsidy being in the range of merely Rs 12 to 14 crore. The chief economic advisor of the government, in a desperate attempt to safeguard and hedge the intellectual sanctity of these dubious claims of the government, says “we estimate that the potential annual savings will be Rs 12,700 crore… We did not — and did not intend to — assert that that absolute figure was in fact the actual saving” (‘Clearing the air on LPG’, April 2, The Indian Express). 

In a response to a Lok Sabha question, the ministry of petroleum remarked on August 10, 2015, that there was an LPG subsidy saving of Rs 11,640 crore between FY14 and FY15. By its own admission, these savings were mainly due to a fall in global oil prices. Further, the ministry revealed that of the 15.7 crore active LPG consumers who received an average annual subsidy of Rs 3,327 each in FY14, 13.7 crore have switched to getting cash subsidy in their bank accounts rather than subsidised LPG cylinders. However, as of March 2016, only 12.3 crore LPG consumers have provided their Aadhaar numbers. Is the ministry then claiming that the remaining beneficiaries are all ghosts and duplicates? If so, how do 13.7 crore LPG consumers receive cash subsidy in their bank accounts? And how much of this saving is due to removing duplicates through Aadhaar? Whichever way one slices and dices the data, it is abundantly clear that claims of Rs 15,000 crore of saving in LPG subsidy solely through Aadhaar are erroneous and deceitful.

So, we now have the chief economic advisor of the government clearly saying that there could be a potential annual saving in LPG subsidy of Rs 12,700 crore in the future. We have the finance minister claiming on the floor of the House that there was an actual saving of Rs 14,672 crore in LPG subsidy due to the direct benefits transfer programme. And we have an independent think-tank estimating the actual saving at a paltry Rs 12 to 14 crore. Again, all three cannot be right. Which one is, Mr Finance Minister?

In its penchant for majoritarianism and loathing for debates, the Modi government has needlessly entered a chakravyuh (borrowing from the Economic Survey) in painting the Aadhaar bill as a money bill and trying to justify it using arbitrary and self-contradictory estimates. 

It is both sad and sardonic that a bill aimed at ushering in a clean and efficient welfare delivery regime should be so shabbily and inefficiently ushered into law. Privacy and other issues notwithstanding, Aadhaar is undoubtedly transformative as a subsidy sudhaar initiative but could do without the hype that has been built around it.

The writer is a Congress Rajya Sabha MP and former minister for rural development who initiated the use of Aadhaar in the MGNREGA and the National Social Assistance Programme. Praveen Chakravarty, fellow in political economy at the IDFC Institute, Mumbai, provided inputs.

- See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/the-lpg-puzzle/#sthash.B6zqQH7b.dpuf