|Aadhaar shackles on smart cards |
New Delhi, April 17: A PMO directive to link all government welfare schemes to the Aadhaar card and avoid issuing separate smart cards for them has put several ministries in a spot.
The directive, in the form of a letter to the information and technology ministry, came after Parliament passed the Aadhaar bill last month. By then, several ministries had already worked out the modalities to issue smart cards for their schemes.
The social justice and empowerment ministry was gearing to roll out unique identity cards for the disabled, promised more than a year earlier, in two months. It's now contemplating linking the I-cards to the Aadhaar number.
"When these I-cards were planned, it was not mandatory for the disabled to have Aadhaar numbers to apply for them. After the directive, it's likely that this will be made mandatory. So, in effect, only those with the Aadhaar number can get their I-cards," a ministry official said.
"This will invariably delay the process. We are still deciding whether we should link it to Aadhaar immediately or do it in a phased manner."
Sources said the ministry had already developed the software for the cards and floated tenders for printing them. The pilot project for the I-cards is likely to begin in two months in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, after which they will be issued in a phased manner starting with 12 states.
"Our I-card project will continue as Aadhaar does not incorporate the information we need to create a database of the disabled," the official said.
"We were told the Aadhaar card cannot reflect the specifics of disability or the pension schemes and scholarships for the disabled. So the best way is to link the I-card to Aadhaar."
But the health ministry, planning since January to roll out an expanded version of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, a health insurance scheme that will cover 50 crore people, may have to drop the project.
The PMO has made it clear that all new government schemes must use the Aadhaar-based direct benefit transfer platform instead of smart cards.
Under the health scheme, smart cards are issued to below-poverty-line families. There are now about 3.72 crore active smart cards under the scheme.
Another smart card project likely to be nixed is the labour ministry's unorganised workers' identification number or UWIN card. It would have enabled multiple ministries to provide services to such workers on a single card. In a letter to the labour secretary, Shankar Agarwal, the PMO panned the proposal.
"It was conveyed to us that the workers can use the Aadhaar number to avail themselves of the benefits of different schemes," a labour ministry official said.
"The PMO felt that issuing smart cards would only lead to duplication and create issues of linkages to databases already tied to Aadhaar."
Unlike the Aadhaar card, which uses biometrics to specifically identify an individual, a smart card or the UWIN functions like a credit/debit card that carries a person's details so that he or she can obtain certain benefits linked to it.
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
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
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.