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 11, 2016

9947 - Two years of NDA… a lot better than UPA - Financial Express

Social sector schemes led by Jan-Dhan and crop insurance, along with efforts to resolve knotty issues like spectrum availability, show a clear change from the UPA’s time, but a forward movement on retrospective tax and multi-brand retail FDI is still pending

By: Santosh Tiwari | Updated: May 8, 2016 9:02 AM


Take the case of Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM). It is a refined and much better form of the UPA’s Aadhaar-based direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme that was launched in January 2013 – the difference is, while the former failed, the latter is progressing well. (Reuters)

Two years is a good enough time to judge performance of a government, especially one that has come to power promising to completely change the way its predecessor worked. In that sense, with the NDA government, led by its star campaigner in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, completing its two years in office on May 26, the UPA sympathisers have reason to ask ‘what has changed from 2014’, if more or less the same policies are being pursued. But, on the ground, the reality is that the government functioning, especially in furthering social sector schemes and policy reforms, is a lot better than the UPA’s last few years, even though in terms of investments and the economy picking up to usher in so called ‘achhe din’ promised by PM Modi, a lot of distance still needs to be covered.
This makes the setting perfect for a Congress-NDA battle on the achievements of PM Modi government as the ongoing Parliament session ends. While the government machinery is all set to blow its trumpet of the successes through punch lines like ‘Zara Muskara Do’, as reported by The Indian Express, which will be the theme of a grand event to showcase NDA success stories, the opposition ranks will cry ‘nothing has changed’. That may be an unending debate, but net-net, the policy paralysis and despondency witnessed during the UPA regime due to the scams like 2G, coal and Commonwealth Games, among others, has taken a back-seat. And though it is a fact that the NDA government has focused predominantly on fine-tuning and better implementation of the already existing policies and schemes under a repackaged brand to make them attractive and look new, the exercise has been fairly successful and has yielded good results.
Take the case of Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM). It is a refined and much better form of the UPA’s Aadhaar-based direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme that was launched in January 2013 – the difference is, while the former failed, the latter is progressing well. The core of the NDA’s DBT model to disburse subsidies and all social sector entitlements such as scholarships and pension, Jan Dhan scheme, launched on August 28, 2014, boasts of 21.68 crore bank accounts now with Rs 36,796 crore of deposits in them along with 9.42 crore Suraksha Bima policies and 2.96 crore Jeevan Jyoti Bima policies. Facing the threat of being left in the lurch as a scheme not to be touched because it was touted as a game-changer by the UPA regime, when it left office, Aadhaar has in fact been pursued by the NDA government with the zeal that is required for pushing such a scheme. The number of Aadhaar enrolments surpassing the 100-crore mark last month, along with the enactment of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits, and Services) Act, 2016, has no doubt created one of the biggest reform platforms in the country. Going by the success of the DBT in LPG, which helped government save Rs 21,000 crore in the last two financial years, the implementation of Aadhaar-based DBT across all government social spending, including those on food and fertiliser, is expected to ensure substantial savings by curbing leakages that could be as high as 40-50% in some areas.


Another significant measure that will help farmers across the country far more than any of the vote-catching loan waivers is the liberal crop insurance schemes, as only 5% of them are covered by it because of higher premiums. Under the new scheme announced by the government now, in which it will bear a major chunk of the premium, farmers will have to pay a uniform premium of only 2% for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops. For commercial and horticultural crops, the premium will be only 5%.

If the steps taken for improving the returns on the government’s social sector spending are looking impressive, in case of dealing with some of the pending issues in areas like telecom also, such as the handling of spectrum shortage to improve telecom services and support Digital India and other government flagship schemes, there is a clear change visible in the approach.

Though the UPA government did the groundwork for releasing 3 carriers of 5MHz each in the 2100MHz band, it could not happen because the agreement with the defence ministry could not be worked out, that led to high bids in the 2015 auctions. Not only the defence ministry has now been brought on board making this spectrum available in the July auctions, the permission to allow spectrum trading and sharing has ensured the optimum use of the available spectrum by telecom operators through tie-ups.

While these are bright spots and big hits, among others, including those in the power sector, such as promotion of LED bulbs and streamlining of the coal block allocation and linkages, there are quite a few concern areas. Despite PM Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley hinting at the scrapping of the 2012 retrospective tax amendments a number of times, it is still in the statute, and the two top cases, Vodafone and Cairn, are no way near any resolution. Unless these two cases are resolved, the ghost of retro tax will be around, even if the government doesn’t take up any new cases.

Not being able to pass the Land Act changes to improve the land acquisition environment crippled by the 2013 Act and also the critical goods and services tax (GST) because of lack of majority in the Rajya Sabha is another big dampener for reforms, and the NDA dispensation has failed to build enough pressure on the Congress for co-opting the party to support these Bills. If it succeeds in getting the Bankruptcy Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha, its score card on this will improve to a certain extent, as the Real Estate Bill has already been passed with the Congress support earlier in the session.
Indeed, the two years of the NDA government are more of a mixed bag in terms of results, but the overall atmosphere is far better than the UPA period – foreign direct investment in the country touching an all-time high of $51 billion in FY16 (till February) is an indication of that. The biggest concern, however, of the investment not picking up still remains, and the situation is unlikely to improve at least in the next two years in any significant manner – private sector investment slowed down to 29.4% of GDP in FY16 from 38% in FY08, and capacity utilisation in factories is 71-74% for the past two years. In the absence of any betterment of the global growth scenario in the near future, the government needs to target big reform measures like opening up multi-brand retail window for foreign investment and the passage of the GST and labour reform Bills in Parliament by finding ways to ensure Congress support to the reform legislations.
The road ahead in the next three years for the NDA government is going to be no less bumpy, even though with a GDP growth of around 7.5%, India is being considered a bright spot globally.