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, May 26, 2016

10037 - A K Bhattacharya: Two lessons after two years - Business Standard

A K Bhattacharya  |  New Delhi 
May 24, 2016 Last Updated at 21:49 IST


The Narendra Modi government completes two years in office tomorrow.  How has it done with regard to the management of the economy? Available macroeconomic indicators suggest a mixed picture.

Economic growth in the last two years has stayed above seven per cent. The growth in the last two years of the previous government ranged between 5.6 and 6.6 per cent. The Modi government has also reined in its fiscal deficit, which was down at 4.1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014-15 and 3.9 per cent in 2015-16. The Manmohan Singh government’s fiscal deficit in its last two years had hovered around 4.4 to 4.9 per cent.

Government expenditure on subsidies has also been on a decline in the last two years, even as financial allocations for infrastructure have seen an increase. New initiatives in the roads, railways and energy sectors have already started making an impact to bring about a recovery in India’s infrastructure that suffered hugely from policy paralysis in the last two years of the Manmohan Singh government. These have been supplemented by the increased coverage of the Aadhaar scheme, expeditious roll-out of the direct benefits transfer scheme for cooking gas supplies and the launch of the Jan Dhan Yojana to ensure financial inclusion, and hopefully access as well.

What about prices? Wholesale prices fell in 2015-16 and saw a marginal rise of two per cent in the previous year, compared to six to seven per cent wholesale inflation in 2012-14. Retail inflation too came to below six per cent, while in the last two years of the Manmohan Singh government it had stayed above nine per cent. The current account deficit during the Modi government’s tenure has stayed at around 1.3-1.4 per cent of GDP, much more benign than 1.7 per cent in 2013-14 and 4.8 per cent of GDP in 2012-13.

However, there should be a caveat here. The decline in the inflation rate as well as the improvement in the current account balance is largely due to a steep fall in international crude oil prices. The average crude oil price for the Indian basket was estimated at between $105 and $107 a barrel in the last two years of the Manmohan Singh government. In 2014-15, the average crude oil price for the Indian basket declined 20 per cent to $84 a barrel and fell by another 45 per cent to average at $45 a barrel in 2015-16. Add to this the falling international price of gold and coal, and you would then understand why the Modi government should not take the entire credit for bringing down inflation or the current account deficit.

On the foreign trade front, the news has been unambiguously bad. Exports contracted for the second consecutive year in 2015-16. Imports too fell thereby bringing down the total trade deficit. But that is hardly any consolation since the rate of fall in non-oil imports showed the tepid demand in the domestic sector, triggering another area of concern for the economy.  Although foreign direct investments have seen a big increase in the last two years, domestic investment proposals have been falling in the same period and the current level of capacity utilisation at around 73 per cent is an indication that an investment demand recovery is nowhere near sight. Industry is unlikely to commit fresh investments in a significant way unless capacity utilisation is close to 90 per cent.  No official numbers are available, but jobs growth could not have been promising either since investments are yet to see a significant pick-up.

The financial sector continues to be in a mess, though the Modi government has initiated a set of new schemes to reduce the banking stress, particularly among state-owned banks. But this is going to be a long haul. The passage of the bankruptcy code will be of some help, but unless major steps are taken to reduce government stake in public sector banks, mere recapitalisation or cleaning up of stressed accounts would only be palliatives without any guarantee that such problems would not recur.

So what are the lessons that the Modi government should draw from its performance in the last two years? 

One, it must learn the art of expectations management. Its promise of dramatic economic recovery once it was elected to power was completely imprudent. No economy of India’s size and diversity can be turned around in a short time of two years, particularly when the government has to deal with an Opposition, whose numbers in the upper house of Parliament are larger than those of the ruling party. The level of stress in the economy was underestimated and it was necessary for the government to dispel the impression early on in its tenure that there was no magic wand by which the ills of the economy could be cured. Not doing that has turned out to be a costly mistake. The government may have notched up many successes, but invariably these are being judged against the promises made.

Two, the Modi government must recognise the increasing power of the states. There are several economic laws that need to be reformed, but many of them are under the domain of the state governments. Even if the Centre passes the laws, it would be necessary for the states to approve them too before they could make a difference. In any case, the combined annual expenditure of all the state governments is now much higher than what the Union government spends in a year. This was not so until 2011-12. The Modi government must take states on board to ensure that the proposed reforms are implemented by them, so that cooperative federalism can spur competition for those that do not wish to embrace the reformist laws.