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.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

9995 - Can Aadhaar be a game changer? - The Statesman


Ashwani Mahajan
| 16 May, 2016

Recently Parliament passed the ‘Aadhaar’ (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill as a money bill to facilitate its safe passage. The government lacks a majority in the Rajya Sabha and thus wanted to avoid the embarrassment it faced in the case of Land Acquisition (Amendment) and GST Bills. 

Safe passage of the Aadhaar legislation is being considered as a game changer and a big success. Aadhaar was given legal status by the previous UPA government, as provision was made to give unique identity to all residents (including children) by assigning a 12 digit number. 

The UPA government could not get the Aadhaar Bill 2010 passed due to intense opposition from Bharatiya Janata Party and other opposition parties. During the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the BJP had opposed Aadhaar. However, after coming to power the party thought it was a good proposition, as with the help of Unique Identity (UID) of residents’ financial subsidies and other public services could be targeted more efficiently. It was felt that apprehensions expressed about the assault on privacy could be taken care of by making appropriate statutory provisions. We must understand that although the 2010 Bill and the current legislation seem similar, there are several dissimilarities. 

According to Aadhaar Bill 2016, if a person has resided in the country for 182 days or more, he/she is entitled to get an Aadhaar card. A person is entitled to avail of a subsidy or a service from the government if he/she either possesses an Aadhaar card or has applied for it. These provisions were not there in the Aadhaar Bill 2010. 

According to the current legislation, information related to an holder’s fingerprints and iris scan shall not be published or displayed publicly, except for purposes specified by regulations. 

When authenticating an individual’s identity, the UID authority cannot reveal information related to iris scan and fingerprints to the entity requesting for authentication. Therefore one can say that an attempt has been made to address concerns about privacy. 

In order to grant it legal status, the Aadhaar Bill 2010 was unsuccessfully attempted by the then UPA government. Later, courts also ruled that Aadhaar could not be made an essential condition for availaing benefits. When the concept of Aadhaar card was brought in and the Unique Identity Authority (UIDAI) given statutory recognition, there was no clarity about the usage of data. For people at large, this was merely an easy-to -obtain identity card. 

Easy availability without proof of citizenship gave rise to apprehensions that this instrument may provide legitimacy to foreign intruders (especially from Bangladesh). 

Once Rajiv Gandhi, our former Prime Minister, had said that 85 per cent of the money sent to the poor did not reach the intended beneficiaries. Our experience is that the food and  petroleum subsides do not fully reach the intended beneficiaries. Apart from this, in order to provide food security to people, government has to maintain huge buffer stocks and this involves substantial budgetary support. 

According to the erstwhile Planning Commission, transfer of food subsidy of one rupee costs Rs. 3.85. Similarly the benefits of Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Programme do not fully reach intended beneficiaries. 

Fertilizer subsidy given for chemical fertilizers goes to the companies and does not reach the farmers fully. A decade back it was impossible to even think of transferring the benefits from the government directly to the targeted beneficiaries. Thanks to the techniques today, it is possible to transfer benefits of subsidy and other services directly to bank accounts of the beneficiaries without much cost. A bank account and a unique identify number overcomes this hurdle. Earlier, because of issues with opening a bank account and requirement of minimum balance, a poor person was unable to open an account. However, under the Jan-Dhan Yojna, nearly 18 crore new bank accounts have been opened with zero balance requirements. 

In fact, along with this, extremely low cost new insurance schemes have also been launched, encouraging more people to open their bank accounts. According to official figures, out of a 1.27 billion population, more than 1 billion possess Aadhaar cards; thus. 93 per cent of the adult population today has the cards. The Aadhaar number is registered in 255 million bank accounts. Persons under 18 years can also get their Aadhaar cards; however few have actually got these made. Overall thus it seems that universal coverage of Aadhaar is possible in the near future, especially after passage of Aadhaar Bill 2016. With almost universal coverage of bank accounts of households and the Aadhaar card, it has become easier to transfer benefits directly to the targeted population. 

This scheme may save billions of rupees, as now LPG subsidy, food subsidy, MNREGA wages and many other benefits can reach the targeted beneficiaries without leakage. According to the government, this could save Rs 70,000 crore for the exchequer. If this is correct, the measure could prove to be a game changer.

(The writer is associate Professor, PGDAV College, University of Delhi)

Read more at http://www.thestatesman.com/news/opinion/can-aadhaar-be-a-game-changer/142664.html#QD2XsGDIfkVaDDqO.99