Calcutta, June 1: Mamata Banerjee today said she would soon write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him not to make Aadhaar cards mandatory for employment under the 100-day job scheme.
The chief minister did not specify if the state had received any instruction from Delhi regarding Aadhaar cards being made mandatory for employment under the central scheme for people in rural areas. Officials at Nabanna said Mamata pre-empted trouble in case such a decision was taken.
Mamata at Nabanna on Wednesday. Picture by Amit Datta
The officials pointed out that 40 per cent of Bengal's population was yet to get Aadhaar cards and a large section of the rural populace would lose out on the jobs if the document was made mandatory.
Mamata said during a get-together with journalists at Nabanna: "Until everybody gets an Aadhaar card, it should not be made mandatory for work under the 100-day job scheme. I will soon write to the Prime Minister on this."
A senior government official told this correspondent that "a recent letter from Delhi" mentioned that it was "desirable" that all job-card holders under the central scheme have Aadhaar cards.
"But the letter did not say those who do not have Aadhaar cards would not get employment. So it is not mandatory as yet," the official said.
Sources said the state government would face a tough task ensuring that the entire population had Aadhaar cards.
"The government is likely to face trouble as 40 per cent of the 9.2 crore people of Bengal do not have Aadhaar cards.... If it is made mandatory, a large section of the rural populace will miss out on the only scheme that gives direct cash to beneficiaries. I think the chief minister pre-empted this," another official said.
Around 2.76 crore people in Bengal are registered under the 100-day job scheme.
"This will have a huge impact in rural areas. As the chief of the ruling party, Mamata will not want trouble over the scheme soon after returning to power with a thumping majority.... This is the reason why she raised the issue even though the Centre has not made Aadhaar cards mandatory for the job scheme," a minister said.
According to panchayat department officials, nearly Rs 4,000 crore was spent in the last financial year to provide work to beneficiaries under the 100-day job scheme.
"If the state has to take the burden of those who don't have Aadhaar cards if it is made mandatory, the sum required would be around Rs 1,500 crore a year. It is a huge amount considering the poor financial condition of the state," said an official.
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
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
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.