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

9963 - Why Aadhaar is just another burden for India's elderly - Dailyo


Reliance on biometrics simply abandons those whose fingerprints have failed them.

MANJIRA KHURANA


Old-age brings with it its own set of miseries. In India, of the 100 million elderly, more than 51 million live below the poverty line. They are supposedly entitled to pension and subsidised rations. The meagre pension of Rs 200 a month (under the central government's IGNOAPS) reaches them late or not at all and, in most cases, after a payout to the corrupt disbursing authority. The Aadhaar scheme has been touted as the panacea to all these ills.

The biometric recognition system militates against those with fading fingerprints or ageing irises.

While theoretically, the universal adoption of the Aadhaar card will permit direct disbursal of pensions and subsidies to disadvantaged elders and others below the poverty line, ground realities appear very different.

The Aadhaar card is not proving to be inclusive despite the adoption of technology. The biometric recognition system militates against those with fading fingerprints or ageing irises. There is difference in fingerprint image quality across age groups, although the most pronounced deterioration is found in 60-plus age group. Error rate in biometric identification significantly increases with increase in age. Ageing results in loss of collagen; compared to younger skin, ageing skin is loose and dry. Working with your hands - especially if it involves handling bricks, or other rough objects - can damage prints.
The official rebuttal to this argument is that the Aadhaar also records iris information, so it doesn't really matter. There are two problems with this - one, reading iris information itself is just as error-prone, especially in senior citizens with cataract issues.
Secondly, most nodal agencies are loathe to install the costlier iris-reading software.

Rations
Pension and rations are today disbursed using the POS machine and finger print recognition. As far as rations are concerned, thousands of PDS outlets are now being provided POS terminals. The last few months have shown their dismal performance, with majority of elders being turned back due to unsuccessful finger print recognition transactions.
In fact, it has been reported that even successful recognition transactions take upto eight minutes. Even after the poor, indigent elders are issued Aadhaar cards, their fingerprints are difficult to match, when they use POS machines. These are connected to a central data registry that houses the biometric details of Aadhaar card holders. The POS machines have to be error-free, and reasonably high-quality internet bandwidth and, most importantly, electricity/battery sources should be made available for the transaction to go through.
The experience in the last few months, especially in Rajasthan which has all PDS shops with POS treminals, has been that in the majority of cases, the elderly are turned away after long waits from POS/PDS shops due to one or the other above-mentioned reasons. Now, manual overrides have been permitted, which lead to further corruption as expected. So, how good is Aadhaar?

Pensions
In the case of pensions, the problems are graver. Earlier, the elderly had to go to banks to withdraw pensions from their accounts. Often, the queues at banks, and the elder-unfriendly procedures caused distress. As a solution, a few months ago, micro-ATMs were launched to disburse pensions. The e-Mitr kendras were converted to Banking/ Business Correspondents (BCs) who authenticated the identity of elders with a swipe on the micro-ATM machine.
BC is a representative authorised to offer services such as cash transactions where the lender does not have a branch. The primary role of a BC is to oversee the development and functioning of indirect banking channels. These business correspondents are subject to RBI regulations and would have direct contact with one or more financial institutions. These BCs charge a commission from the bank for enrollment of clients, transactions, deposits et al.
Initially only "not for profit" entities were allowed to become BCs. However, of late, the RBI has eased norms like inclusion of profit entities and interoperability of business correspondents, aimed at helping customers in rural areas access banking services such as cash deposits, withdrawals, remittances and balance enquiries from anywhere in the country on the lines of ATM facilities available to customers in urban areas.
However, this gives an impetus to major corruption as each time a poor elderly who cannot read/write places the thumbprint the transaction is authorised with the BC. When the fingerprint does not match, the elder is asked to swipe his smartcard on the POS terminal. Majority of the times, it is the BC who swipes the card and asks the technology-unfriendly elder to provide his PIN number.
In effect, the unsuspecting elder has just handed over control of his bank account to the BC. The potential of corruption and mischief is frightening with likelihoods of assuming staggering proportions.

In Rajasthan alone, apparently seven lakh elders are no longer claiming their pensions. This is due to a variety of reasons, the finger prints not matching, being asked to come back time and time again. Not being able to access their pensions month after month, the poor elders no longer have the resources or the energy to once again travel to where the district officials would be available to "address their grievance".

The problem
Aadhaar and the attendant biometrics are being made mandatory for the disadvantaged to access ration and pension. The poor, who qualify for this, and are often the ones working with their hands, will be the worst-affected. Yet, the proposed law does not have any alternative provisions. It simply abandons those whose fingerprints have failed them, to their own devices.
Technology is expected to be an inclusive mechanism. In not thinking through an alternative for biometrics, the Aadhaar technology will work in the exact opposite manner.