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.


Friday, May 13, 2016

9957 - Using data to improve social welfare schemes - Governance Now

As secretary of DeitY, Aruna Sharma is steering UIDAI and overseeing the execution of Digital India programme.

Pratap Vikram Singh | May 9, 2016 | New Delhi


Before taking over the reins of DeitY in February, Aruna Sharma was heading the department of panchayat and rural development in Madhya Pradesh. As secretary of DeitY, she is steering UIDAI and overseeing the execution of Digital India programme. In an interaction with Governance Now, she talks about the database-driven social welfare regime and uses of Aadhaar. 

What are the developments under the Digital India campaign so far? 
For a citizen, whose key concern is to have easy access to government services, we are facilitating service delivery through common services centres [CSCs]. Now maximum government services are being made available online and they are also available at CSCs.

Connectivity was a limiting factor in the success of CSCs. But many centres now have dongle and VSAT connectivity. We are also exploring white space. Ultimately, the high-speed connectivity is going to be provided by optical fibre network.

From the industry’s view, electronics, software and services related policies are becoming business-friendly. In electronics, MSIPS and electronic development fund are big capital subsidy that the government is offering to push the electronics industry.

Onus of pushing e-governance projects is now more on the states after the 14th finance commission report. Your comments?
In all schemes the funding pattern has been made into 60:40 – 60 from the centre and 40 from the state. In the 14th finance commission, instead of 32 percent, states have got 42 percent share of revenue. This 10 percent increase will create extra fund flow at the state level. This gives advantage to state governments; they can decide their priorities. For example, Kerala will like to put little [less] money in education as they have done well in education and now people would like to pay for education. So the support will go in a different direction.  

As far as paying for the skilled manpower is concerned, states will definitely come forward to put money as these teams play an important role in execution of e-governance projects.

As far as software [related expenses] is concerned, the state governments will not have to spend. The central government is providing it free to all the state governments. Software is being developed through NIC and the private sector.

For database, we are going to count on the RGI [Registrar General of India] and SECC [Socio-Economic Caste Census]. The database, anyway, comes from state governments. The cost of creating these databases, however, is borne by the central government. We will provide a mechanism to update database in a given timeline. So if tomorrow the state government has its unique scheme it can use the database for identifying right beneficiaries.

Mission mode projects on education and health haven’t progressed.
Yes, today [at the time of interview] itself we had a third round of meeting with the health ministry. The government is coming up with a health insurance for '1 lakh and another '60,000 if  there are two elderly members. This is an upgraded version of RSBY [Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana]. It’s a good amount to take care of health expenses of a family. ICT is going to play an important role in terms of implementation and monitoring.

Besides, the health ministry already has a strong ICT system related to child and mother health. The health ministry is also implementing hospital management system. It is an intra-hospital system. AIIMS is doing it. It will become a common system and will give data about the kind to diseases patients are suffering from. You will know how many TB cases are there in an area or in which area only male children are being born. Then the government will know what changes need to be brought in the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques [PCPNDT] Act, 1994. The national dashboard will throw up these analytics. For a country of our size, you can’t have this kind of intelligent interventions without ICT.  

In education sector, a common scholarship portal is being worked out. There have been instances of teaching through video conferencing. That makes a lot of difference. All competitive exams are happening online.

Does connectivity continue to be a major challenge?
The telecom department is aware of it and is taking steps in this direction. The cabinet secretary himself is monitoring the whole programme. 

Majority of the places have some form of connectivity and if you look at majority of transactions which happen at panchayats, it is not very big in numbers. Take the example of a bank, which caters to villages in a 5-km radius with a dependent population of 20,000. The bank will have transactions for not more than two-three hours. So the limited connectivity need can be met by a dongle. The situation is grim in areas without any telecom connectivity. That’s why we are working on white space connectivity.

Has white space evolved enough to be used to provide connectivity?
Of course! Technology-wise it is ready. IIT Bombay and IIT Chennai have done experiments. To work on this model, we are in talks with DoT [department of telecommunications] to check the legality of the whole issue.

The moment we clear administrative issues, then rolling out of the plan will not take very long.  [After it is approved] we can connect everybody in two-three months. That’s the advantage of this technology. Of course, it will not have great speed. But it is better than zero connectivity.

Out of 2.5 lakh panchayats, we have laid down cable in 80,000 panchayats. There are some issues in making them operative. They are cracking it.

How do you propose to use Aadhaar, now that UIDAI has statutory backing?
Aadhaar is a tool to ensure that money going from the consolidated fund is reaching to the right person. The giver of money has every right to know that you are the right person. So the government can always ask you to give your Aadhaar number.

However, Aadhaar is only used at the last step [of service delivery] – at the time of remitting the amount. We are developing a mechanism in which we will not be required to seed each and every database. We will have a common database where Aadhaar will be used only at the time of verification.

There is a confusion about Aadhaar-based cash transfer. Beneficiaries don’t know in which bank account they will receive the payment.

To address that we are creating a common big data [social security platform] and in that system an individual will decide in which account she or he wants to receive benefits. All schemes payments/benefits will go in that account. Citizens will have to suggest if they want to change their bank account in which they receive payment. Systemic errors, too, create confusion. When we started DBT [direct benefit transfer] for housing – and this was done without using Aadhaar – many beneficiaries were given the same account number. In the database, when we decide entitlement, there are a number of checks we have to do.

What will be the mechanism to update the database?
There are only six corrections [updates] which happen. Births and deaths are two which will be done by the Registrar General. Then there is marriage: a girl goes out of a family and joins another family. Then a family moves out completely or a family splits. The birth and death updates will be done on an auto mode by the registrar, which could be the health department or a local body. The latter four will be on request.

In rural areas, we are thinking of giving the power to update to the CEO  of janpad, and in urban areas we plan to entrust the municipal head or, say, the chief municipal officer to do the correction.  

The common database will be updated regularly – with timely registration of births and deaths. Since all departments will be pulling data in an auto mode, the moment a death happens it will automatically reflect in the PDS database. So next month they will reduce ration entitlement by five kg [as per the National Food Security Act every member of a beneficiary household gets five kg of ration]. When a child is born the food department will enhance ration by five kg. When a marriage takes place and a woman is added in the family, the department will add five kg ration in the overall entitlement. The department will reduce ration allocation for her paternal family.  PDS and health databases need to be dynamic. 

Will we migrate to a fully database-driven social welfare regime?
Ultimately, it has to be. Even today it is. Just that the data is in silos. Pension has its own database, so does MNREGA, PDS and others. Database-based delivery is an established practice today. This is not something new we are doing.

We have successful examples. Six states are already using common database [to run social welfare programmes]; they have evolved their common database parameters. Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Haryana and Meghalaya are attempting to move in that direction. 

Why is it taking so long for the government to set up the cyber coordination centre? 
The National Cyber Coordination Centre (NCCC) is being set up to enable real-time situational awareness and rapid response to cyber security threats with pro-active threat detection at the national level.  It is a complex project. The implementation involves major components; namely, data collection, transport, processing and detecting attacks through correlation and analysis, storage and ultimately leading to achieve security analytics capability and create a cyber threat model. In the first phase, secure data collection framework is being set up and correlation, analysis and detection of security threats will be carried out on the collected data to generate situational awareness. Further, tests and proof of concept of commercially available technologies will be conducted to identify and develop security analytics. In Phase II of the project, the set-up will be scaled up with the help of understanding and experience gained in the Phase I.  Phase I is expected to be completed in four months. With the availability of funds and skilled manpower, Phase II of the project will be completed by August 2017.

What are your priorities as DeitY secretary?
My priority will be digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen, governance and services on demand, and digital empowerment of citizens. 

pratap@governancenow.com

(The interview appears in May 1-15, 2016 edition of Governance Now)

- See more at: http://www.governancenow.com/gov-next/egov/using-data-improve-social-welfare-schemes#sthash.XedC9LCf.dpuf