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

10030 - 2 years of Modi: So far so good but final verdict hinges on these 3 questions - First Post


Dinesh Unnikrishnan  May 24, 2016 13:47 IST

Two years ago, on 26 May, the Narendra Modi-government took office amid chest-thumping of a landslide victory and promise of ‘achhe din’ to a billion Indians, after a disappointing UPA regime. How Modi has performed in two years after securing such a huge mandate? The answer depends on who you would ask and in what specific context.


In 2 years, Modi has hard sold the India brand in his foreign trips like no other prime minister has done before, smartly packaged schemes under catchy slogans, plugged subsidy leakages through DBT (direct benefit transfer) and pushed the economic reform agenda through small steps. That’s how an optimist would summarize Modi’s 2 years.

But, then there are critics such as Arun Shourie, who would offer a counter argument calling the NDA government a ‘one man show’. Going by this view, Modi is mostly managing headlines than addressing the actual problems in the economy. India’s 7.6% GDP growth is a mirage when the manufacturing sector is faltering, corporate earnings remain muted, exports are down for 16-months and unemployment has risen.

Modi hasn’t done miracle in the Indian economy in his 2-year tenure. But, the former Gujarat chief minister isn’t a disappointment as a PM either, even his critics would agree.
Let’s be fair, Modi inherited an economy in deep mess, paralysed with corruption, slow decision making process and burden of self-imposed sky-high expectations. The new government needed time to identify the problems first and then begin work to clear the mess. Reversing the growth cycle is a time consuming process. Modi’s tenure, hence, will be assessed based on the remaining three years of his tenure than the gone two years.

As far as economy is concerned, answer to the three following questions will be used to write his final report card.

Can Modi avert a banking crisis?
The biggest issue, which the Modi government hasn’t either understood well or underestimated so far, is the banking sector mess. The bad loan crisis in the country’s Rs 101 lakh core banking sector can potentially upset the country’s economic picture for the next several years, if the government fails to get the solution right.

Here’s where things stand: At least 11% of the total loans in the banking sector are tagged under the stressed asset category. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) beginning the clean-up exercise has shown the actual depth of the trouble on the books of Indian banks (hidden bad loans), especially state-run lenders. With over 90% of the total bad loans (of Rs 4,00,000 crore) on the books of sarkari banks controlled by the government, the onus of capitalising these lenders and making growth capital available to them is on the government.

In the March-quarter, PSU banks have reported record level of bad loans. The clean-up is good sooner than later, the question is whether the government has an action plan to address the problem. What it has already announced — Rs 70,000 crore by 2019 — is too little and has come too late.

Can Modi pull off project GST?
The BJP’s landslide victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has been of little help to the Modi government to get large ticket reforms such as GST passed due to the party’s weak position in the upper house. The biggest casualty is the GST. Though the government has managed to push some of the reform bills — Aadhaar and bankruptcy code — the promise of GST clearance remains a big disappointment to international investors. That’s a reform which can take the country’s GDP by a few notches up subsuming several state level levies and thus broadening the tax base

Of the three major demands the Congress party has raised on GST — inclusion of the GST rate in the constitution, doing away with the inter-state levy and constituting an independent dispute resolution mechanism — only the only major point of difference is capping GST in the Bill.

The Congress party is unlikely to give in and is likely to render it a major task for Modi, even if the party may improve its numbers in the Rajya Sabha in 2016-17.

“While the ruling party is likely to gain more seats in the upper house of parliament in 2016, it will fall short of the two-thirds majority required to push through the GST legislation,” said Standard Chartered in a note on 17 May.

The recent state elections don’t make any major difference for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha.

“Its victory in Assam today is not expected to increase its seat share in the upper house during the current term of the government, as the next set of Assam's seats come up for renewal only after the government's current term ends in May 2019,” said Pranjul Bhandari, Chief India Economist at HSBC.
The only way out for Modi and his party to get the project GST done is to gather the support of the small parties.

Can Modi regain the investor confidence?
Despite his numerous foreign trips and the promise of ease of doing business, the fact is the Modi has not yet managed to get the investor confidence back as evident from shallow private investments. The absence of revival in the private investment cycle has put the entire onus of firing up the economy on the government, which is fiscally constraint. There aren’t any strong growth triggers yet.

“India needs structural reforms in order to move sustainably onto a higher growth trajectory. In addition to GST implementation, these include supply-side measures to achieve medium-term food-price stability, and banking-sector reforms. Progress in these areas has been slower than expected,” StanChart said. This is even more critical now since the pile of stalled projects has begun to pick up after a brief decline.
This chunk has gone up from Rs 9.6 lakh crore in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2015 to Rs 11.4 lakh crore in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016. Absence of fresh private investments becomes even a greater problem in the backdrop of bank funding drying up on account of huge NPAs and capital scarcity (in the case of state-run banks).

Besides, these three critical targets to be achieved, it is equally important to see if the Modi government can prepare the economy less export-dependent. A crash in global commodity prices and slowdown in some of the largest economies like China have resulted in Indian exports dropping the 17th straight month in April. This’ll be even more serious concern in the days ahead. In a world of uncertainties, the only way is to boost the local demand and gradually bring down dependence on exports. Remember, Modi was lucky to have the benefit of low crude oil prices so far that has helped to lower import bill and cool off inflation. But, there is no guarantee that luck will remain forever.

The two years of the Modi government doesn’t have any big achievements to show on its report card that has translated into actual economic growth and job creation. Nobody looks at the 7.6% growth with full conviction yet. But, this period has indeed set stage for growth by initiating the reforms process such as bank clean-up, Aadhaar-linked direct benefit transfer for subsidy roll out, bankruptcy law.

Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the next three years are highly important for Modi as the observers will watch if the government leverages on these positives. Modi needs to focus on his promise of good governance and make his government controversy-free to the extent possible by gagging the motor mouths and loose cannons in the party. There is no time for distractions.