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.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

10001 - Big-bang versus baby-bangs: FM Arun Jaitley is right; India needs small, but regular reforms - Financial Express

Small, but regular, reforms are what India needs

By: The Financial Express | Updated: May 17, 2016 8:04 AM

Focussing on getting the Aadhaar Act through and on eliminating the 40-50% leakage levels through Aadhaar-seeding, as the government is doing, is the way to go, though it needs considerable speeding up. (PTI)

Finance minister Arun Jaitley is right in calling the desire for “big-bang reforms” a “column writer’s favourite”, in an interview to Business Standard. While big-bang reforms sound good, more can be achieved with smaller but regular reforms. 

Announcing the privatisation of an Air India or a BSNL would certainly qualify as a big-bang reform, but how many takers will there be for the large employee base both PSUs have? Selling a stake in PSUs banks, similarly, makes for good optics but little else given the poor value they will fetch—full-scale privatisation of several banks is a good idea, but cannot be done without getting Parliament’s approval and so is ruled out. In such a situation, plucking the low-hanging fruit is critical. The government lost two years in the oil and gas sector by not clearing stuck projects such as Cairn’s application for extending its oil mining lease in Rajasthan’s Barmer and in not freeing up prices of natural gas. In the case of telecom, another area where investors were lining up two years ago, the government needlessly got embroiled in the call-drop matter instead of focusing on getting more spectrum for telcos—in both cases, the government appears to have learned its lessons and is working on fixing the investment environment.

On subsidies, similarly, trying to limit the subsidised foodgrain entitlement under the Food Security Act (FSA) is impossible given Parliament passed it, but it would be wise to take the opportunity provided—FSA allows a review after 3 years—and raise the issue prices moderately. Focussing on getting the Aadhaar Act through and on eliminating the 40-50% leakage levels through Aadhaar-seeding, as the government is doing, is the way to go, though it needs considerable speeding up. Also, if the government wants to move foodgrains cultivation to eastern India, the only way to do this is to offer cash support to farmers and that can only be got by disbanding the hugely inefficient FCI—that, however, is rarely considered big-bang. LPG and kerosene subsidies are under control thanks to low oil prices but, were their subsidy to be cut gradually as the UPA did with diesel, this would qualify as a big reform albeit in baby steps. Indeed, funding the NDA’s crop- and other insurance-schemes—all of which add up to a big bang for both the poor and rural India—also need subsidies to be rationalised. If there is a criticism here, it is that the government didn’t get BJP states like

Maharashtra to repeal the APMC Act or Punjab and Haryana to repeal their mandi taxes—all are small-bang reforms which would enable big farm reforms.

Ironically, the one big bang the government tried, to amend the UPA’s disastrous land acquisition law, backfired and gave wind to the suit-boot-ki-sarkaar tag which, primarily, ensured the government couldn’t move on the retrospective tax cases such as Vodafone and Cairn. Indeed, tax changes such as removing the tax on FIIs had a larger financial impact—or not appealing the Shell tax judgment—got through because they were low-profile. Reducing small savings rates by linking them to GSecs is also a big reform but was seen as low-profile and so escaped attention. Flying under the radar is always a good thing provided you don’t fly so low, you ground the plane.