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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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

10027 - Taking stock, two years on - The Hindu

May 23, 2016


ARVIND PANAGARIA

llustration: Satwik Gade

The Modi government’s social sector strategy has aimed to make existing programmes more efficient, and give priority to empowerment over entitlement.

In broad terms, two features distinguish social sector strategy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. First, it endeavours to make the existing programs more efficient by cutting leakages. And second, it gives priority to empowerment over entitlement.
Early in its tenure, the government achieved a major success in financial inclusion with empowerment through Prime Minister’s Jana Dhana Yojana. This scheme proposed to give a bank account to every family. The program entered the Guinness Book of Records for opening 1.8 crore accounts in one week from 23 to 29 August 2014. By May 2016, the scheme had opened 21.74 crore accounts with Rs. 37,445 crore in deposits.

Alongside, the Prime Minister not only took the pragmatic decision of retaining and rapidly expanding the Aadhaar biometric identification program but also accelerated its deployment for cutting wasteful expenditure in the delivery of social programs. Recently, legislation has been passed that empowers the government to require the beneficiary of services financed from the Consolidated Fund of India to provide her Aadhaar identity number. In turn, the government can link the beneficiary’s Aadhaar identity number and bank account to which benefits are transferred. This direct benefit transfer (DBT) instrumentality complemented by Aadhaar seeding of the bank account eliminates the possibility of benefits accruing to multiple accounts of the same beneficiary or to ghost accounts.
Large social programs such as the Public Distribution System (PDS), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and subsidized sales of fertilizer and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders have been subject to massive leakages through the use of multiple and ghost accounts. These leakages can now be plugged via DBT cum Aadhaar instrumentality. The government has already successfully done this in the disbursement of the subsidy associated with the PDS, MGNREGA and LPG cylinders though the coverage remains far from complete. Not all bank accounts have been linked to Aadhaar.

To-date, an estimated 3.5 crore multiple or ghost beneficiaries have been eliminated from the LPG rolls. During 2014-15 alone, this resulted in savings of Rs. 14,672 crore. In MGNREGA, similar weeding out of multiple or ghost beneficiaries resulted in a savings of Rs. 3,000 crore in 2015-16. This amount is a little below 10% of the total MGNREGA allocation. In PDS, an estimated Rs. 10,000 crore has been saved by elimination of 1.6 crore fake ration cards using the Aadhaar instrumentality.
To empower rural households, the government has greatly accelerated the process of rural electrification and rural-road construction. During its two years in office, the government has brought electricity to 7,654 villages compared with 5,189 villages in the preceding three years. Likewise, total rural road length constructed has been 36,340 and 36,450 kilometres during 2014-15 and 2015-16, respectively. In comparison, only 24,160 and 25,320 kilometres had been constructed during 2012-13 and 2013-14, respectively.

Approximately 12 crore households in India continue to use solid biomass fuels for cooking, with its attendant harmful effects on health. To-date, no serious effort has been made to free up these households of the black carbon they inhale while cooking. For years, efficient cook stoves have been promoted but they cover less than 1% of the affected families to-date.
For the first time, the government has resolved to bring LPG cylinders to these households. The government has launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjawal Yojana under which 5 crore BPL [below poverty line] households will be provided subsidized LPG cylinders over the next three years. The target for the current fiscal year is 1.5 crore households. The scheme is being financed in part from the savings generated through voluntary surrender of LPG subsidy by existing richer households. At Prime Minister’s call, one crore richer households have already given up this subsidy.

In the Budget 2015-16, the government launched Atal Pension Scheme to provide a minimal insurance cover to workers in unorganized sector. Under the scheme, the central government co-contributes the lower of 50% of the total contribution and Rs. 1,000 per annum to each subscriber account for a period of 5 years. Depending on his contribution, a subscriber under the age of 40 receives the fixed monthly pension of Rs. 1000 to Rs 5000 at the age of 60 years.

In parallel, the central government has introduced Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (insurance against accidental death) and Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (insurance against death). The former provides cover for Rs. 2 lakh in case of death and Rs. 1 lakh in case of partial disability to individuals 18 to 70 years of age for a premium of Rs. 12 per annum. The latter covers individuals between 18 and 50 years for Rs. 2 lakh at a premium of Rs. 330 per year. By 9 May 2016, 9.4 Crore beneficiaries had enrolled under the Suraksha Bima Yojana and 3 crore under the Jeevan Jyoti scheme. Enrolment in Atal pension Yojana at 20 lakh was significantly lower.

The Budget 2016-17 announced three major initiatives related to health: insurance, Jan Aushadhi scheme and dialysis programme. Under the health insurance scheme, coverage for Rs. 1 lakh is provided against hospitalization expenditure. For senior citizens, there is additional coverage of Rs. 30,000. The government will cover eight crore families from economically weaker section free of charge through an Aadhaar-linked programme. Under Jan Aushadhi programme, the government will open 3,000 stores nationwide to provide low-cost generic drugs. With 2.2 lakh end stage renal disease patients added each year, the government has also announced a programme to provide dialysis services in all district hospitals.

The government has introduced several measures towards improved implementation of MGNREGA. It has given priority to low-hanging fruits such as water ponds and de-silting of water ponds in asset creation. It has also taken a more liberal approach towards building of private assets such as houses, wells and toilets for the poor. This has created ownership of assets by respective beneficiaries and led to better supervision of work. Finally, the government has improved the convergence between MGNREGA works and schemes such as skill development, Prime Minister’s Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Housing for All and Swachh Bharat Mission.

In the area of higher education, regulations have been liberalized to give greater flexibility to women to complete their M. Phil and Ph.D. degrees. Upon fulfilling certain conditions, women Ph.D. scholars relocating to other towns can now transfer to a university in the destination town rather than having to begin afresh. Rules have also been liberalized to give autonomy to colleges that receive the highest accreditation grade for three consecutive cycles from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council.

Furthermore, the government has committed to turning 10 private and 10 public institutions into world-class teaching and research institutions. Steps towards achieving this objective can lead to far-reaching reform of higher education system in India. Separately, the government has made the reform of medical education in India a higher priority, assigning the task to a high-level committee.

The discussion of social sector reform and programmes will be incomplete without a brief reference to the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). The mission is not only critical for a healthy India but is also essential to creating a modern India. Among other things, it proposes to make India open defecation free by 2 October 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Toilets built have risen from 5 million in 2013-14 to 5.88 million in 2014-15 and 12.7 million In 2015-16.
This documentation is by no means complete. There is much else being done via housing for all, Prime Minister’s Krishi Sinchai Yojana, livelihood mission and much else that touches people’s lives. The distinguishing feature of the policies under the present government is that they promise to sustain high growth in the GDP, revenues and social spending and deliver social services more efficiently and effectively.

Arvind Panagariya is the Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog. Views are personal and may not be attributed to either the Government of India or NITI Aayog.