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.


Monday, May 16, 2016

9990 - How an army of workers is taking Aadhar to India's deep forests and its tribals - Economic Times

By Sowmya Aji, ET Bureau | 15 May, 2016, 02.51PM IST
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Pix by Lina Banerjee

Tribals being photographed for Aadhar
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Biligirirangana Betta (BR Hills), Karnataka 

A three-member team lumbers in, into the overpowering forest of Biligirirangana Betta (BR Hills), carrying between them a laptop, a white screen, equipment to take fingerprints and iris screenshots and power backup. They are in search of tribals, who have to be registered, if the ambitious Aadhaar project has to achieve 100% coverage. The team's job is far from easy and fraught with danger. The forest trails are crossed by wild elephants. They ride on two-wheelers, lugging all their equipment, as four-wheelers cannot go down those narrow trails. 

The scanning machine needs power and, in the middle of thick vegetation and hilly terrain, they have to figure out a way to uplink to the Aadhaar database. "We are wary about taking the battery power backup, as the woods are very dry due to lack of rains. Any small spark can cause a forest fire. We are charging two laptops that are mobile Aadhaar units and taking them into the tribal podis (hamlets)," TM Ramprasad Thagadur, 30, Aadhaar coordinator in Karnataka's backward Chamarajanagar district, tells et Magazine. 

Out on a Quest 
Security is a concern with these mobile units, but the laptops and the Aadhaar data registered in them can be accessed only with the fingerprint of the operator. Once a laptop was stolen from Gundlupet and, along with it, all the data stored in it was gone. "We went back and did the registrations all over again. There is no fear that the data will be misused, because no one can access it. 

That is the kind of security we have for Aadhaar," says Thagadur. Thagadur and his indefatigable team are the answer to the question that was asked to Infosys cofounder Nandan Nilekani in 2009, when he set up the Aadhaar project: how are you going to ensure last-mile coverage of India's tribal populations? He no longer heads the Unique Identification Authority of India ( UIDAI ), but the administration has to tackle it, with Aadhaar crossing the billion mark a month ago. "It is my social responsibility to ensure that the tribals are covered," says HL Prabhakar, project manager, Karnataka Resident Data Hub, under the state's Centre for eGovernance. He is in charge of ensuring that every citizen in Karnataka — including children — is covered under Aadhaar. The state is lagging behind in registration, ranked a poor 18th on the national stage. Centre for eGovernance chief executive Rathan U Kelkar has set a target of September to cover at least 95% of the state's 6 crore population. 


"We are pulling out all the stops," says Thagadur, sitting in a community hall in Yerakanagadde podi (tribal hamlet), constructed by the state government's department of tribal welfare. He and his team members Syed Zafarulla and Raghav K have visited this podi several times, one of the more developed hamlets on the main road leading to the Betta. Almost everyone here has been covered. Almost. Rangamma has brought her seven-yearold son Mahadevu for registration. 


"The school asks us for his Aadhaar number. So I have come," she says, her brow furrowed in concentration. Her tribe, the Soligas, more famous for harbouring sandalwood smuggler Veerappan in the late 1990s, have come out of the forest to this podi a few years back. The ways of non-forest folk are still new to them. She is sending her son to the government school like all others in her podi, but she does not know what he will do with the shikshana ( education ). Besides schools, it is through the public distribution system (PDS) that the state government is ensuring registration under Aadhaar. The tribals get food grain, oil, salt and pulses as ration from the tribal welfare department. As a trade-off, they don't live in the forests and they don't hunt. Forty-sixyear-old Huliya Siddegowda, speaking painstakingly in Kannada, which is quite different from their Soliga dialect, tells ET Magazine : "They are saying they won't give my rations till I show them my Aadhaar card. So I have come here for the registration." 

Life Outside the Forest 
The registration, even at the community hall, is not easy. The tribals are wary of the machine that scans their fingerprints, while the iris scanner almost causes panic. Thagadur and his team, with infinite patience, tell them there is nothing to fear and show them the scans on the laptop. The tribals have an air of resignation: that this is one more dance the government has forced on them. In Bangale podi , Kethamma and her husband Bommayya laugh when asked about Aadhaar. Kethamma, a Soliga tribal, has managed the transition to life outside the forest quite well. She is a member of the Yelandur taluk panchayat and was vice-president in the previous term. She and Bommayya have been working with their tribe and have ensured almost 90% coverage under Aadhaar. Kethamma admits that initially she was scared to get fingerprinted and iris scanned. 

"It was difficult as I myself did not know what it was. How do I convince my people if I don't do it myself? I gathered courage and did it. After that, it was easy to ask others to enrol for Aadhaar," she says. Bommayya's method is more direct: "I tell them, if they fall down and die somewhere, people should know who they are. Other cards can be faked but, I tell them, fingerprints and iris can't be. The Aadhaar is the best identity." He has none of the doubts that urbanites have over the efficacy of Aadhaar or its privacy concerns. "We get everyone into the fold. After all, all government benefits will come only through Aadhaar in the future," he says. Bommayya came out of the forest in 1979 as a young boy, when the state government sent elephants to the podis to destroy them and force the tribals out. He is not sure if it was the right thing to do. 

"Our children are all studying in schools, but they drop out in Classes VII and X. They go back to the same old work of collecting honey and moss to earn their livelihood. Only two persons have succeeded in the outside world — one is an assistant professor in Hassan and the other has completed his PhD on forest management," Bommayya says. He works with NGOs and various government agencies to ensure that his tribe get the facilities due to them. Poverty and listlessness are rampant, but Bommayya believes that education and healthcare will change that. He also says the way to progress for his people is by cooperating with the government on their programmes, including Aadhaar. Bommayya has easy access to podis and no forest official stops his visits. 

Taking the Aadhaar team into the forest, though, is a different matter. Thagadur and his team want to visit the Puranic podi deep inside the forest, but are stopped by forest guards. "Have you got permission from our CCF (chief conservator of forests)," the guard asks. Thagadur and Bommayya try to explain to the forest guard that they are also government representatives, but to no avail. Unless the CCF gives permission, they cannot go in. Puranic podi is in a remote forest, with no mobile connectivity; so the CCF is not accessible for permission. Thagadur throws up his hands, shrugs and says, "I will come again, with permission." 

Tribals at the Yerakanagadde podi collecting their rations 
The conviction the people have in Bommayya and Kethamma is evident. ET Magazine went with the Aadhaar team and Bommayya to Manjigundigoravi podi and Muttagadagadde podi , on the verge of the deep forest. At Manjigudigoravi, Jademahadevi, 20, sits on aluminium pot that Raghav has taken from her hut, posing for the laptop that he has balanced on another pot. She has no idea what it is all about and hesitantly looks to Bommayya before putting her fingers on the fingerprinting machine. Everyone else in the podi has gone away to work for daily wages. The only other person there is Lakshmana Dasegowda, 70, who comforts her: "Don't worry, I have done this, it is okay." Masanamma, 65, at Muttagadagadde, smiles when asked about the Aadhaar card. "Our leader," pointing to Bommayya, "has asked us to do it, so we are doing it. I don't know why," she shrugs. 

Resistance and Dissensions 
Almost everyone in this podi has been registered. Thagadur talks to Basamma, whose son has still not come under the Aadhaar ambit. "He has gone to Honmenti for work," Basamma says. "I will bring him to the Yerakanagadde camp as soon as he comes," she tells Thagadur and Bommayya. Prema Siddegowda, who belongs to the generation that was born outside the forest, is not aware that her one-year-old daughter should also be registered for Aadhaar. There is much coaxing and talking before she sits with her daughter Aishwarya on her lap, balancing themselves on a concrete slab that operator Raghav has arranged. 

Jadegowda, however, is not happy with Aadhaar. "I don't trust Bommayya," he tells ET Magazine . "He has not helped me get government money to build my house. Why should I do this Aadhaar when it doesn't help me in any way?" he asks. Thagadur says there is resistance to Aadhaar registration from several sections as they fear losing the facilities that they already have. "They have been asked for their thumbprint at the sub-registrar's offices for land transfer. They fear this is some other way of snatching their land. Several people also have multiple BPL cards and don't want to lose out by getting Aadhaar authenticated," he says. 

The team, however, is firm that the registration has to be done, whichever way possible. They have gone into schools, anganwadis, homes and even the HIV ward of a hospital in their quest to cover every single person under Aadhaar. "We used the medicine chest at the HIV ward to keep our laptop on," Thagadur says. The team has got in touch with Nehru Yuva Kendra and other youth groups to identify the aged, the infirm and the mentally challenged and send them details on WhatsApp. The team promptly goes to their homes and registers them. "By December, Chamarajanagar will be covered 100% under Aadhaar," Thagadur says with quiet confidence. "That is the kind of commitment and level of difficulty that our district coordinators are working with," says project manager Prabhakar. "I am not able to pay them high wages. What they are doing is out of passion. This is the only reason every person will be covered under this project."