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


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.


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Thursday, September 1, 2016

10345 - Is it possible to exist without an ID? - Live Mint

Last Modified: Fri, Aug 19 2016. 12 53 AM IST


The longer that debate on identity is buried, the more hurdles we place in the way of good governance that is emphasized by the current Indian government

Dipankar De Sarkar

The identity card in India is ubiquitous and omnipresent in its intrusion. Yet, no one seems to mind. Photo: Hindustan Times

Flying out to the hills the other day, I came across an odd sight at the airport. There were long queues snaking all across the three terminals. But there was one that was totally empty, guarded nevertheless by an armed security man. That gate had a signboard placed before it. In white lettering over a blue board, it said, “Honourable Members of Parliament and AEP Holders”.

The queues at the airport were swelling because you need to show both your ticket and a photo identity card to enter the building. AEP stands for airport entry pass or permit, which may mean an airport manager and other such important personages but also other staff and trainees. The rest of us looked wistfully at that empty gate and its workless security guard.

I can’t remember the last time I was asked for an identity card while going about minding my business in the UK or in mainland Europe. Equally, I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t asked to show one in India, again while going about my daily work.

The identity card in India is ubiquitous and omnipresent in its intrusion. Yet, no one seems to mind. Are you travelling abroad? Need some foreign exchange? You have to produce your passport and—this is a bit strange really—your air ticket.
Are you travelling within the country? You need your Indian identity card, such as the Aadhaar card, to get on to the plane. Checking into a hotel? You better have that ID card on you. Some of it is related to security, protecting vital infrastructure such as airports.

Yet, entering a railway station—even the main railway station in a city—is laughably (and scarily) easy. There is the usual unconcerned, slightly sleepy policeman sipping tea from a mug while trying his best not to pay much attention to the X-ray screen at the baggage belt. The bags pass him by, you pick yours up and he still hasn’t looked at you.

Your ID card is needed once you are inside the train when the ticket collector (TC) comes to check your ticket. Much of this is completely unnecessary. (For instance, you have to give your age and gender when booking a ticket and the TC will compare your ID card details with the information he has on you).
Several A4 size sheets of paper will be stuck outside every coach with the following information in columns: a serial number, name, sex, age, and seat number. To my mind, this is all a throwback to another era—a decades-old era—when ticketless travelling was common and the demand for train seats far outstripped supply.

Keeping the whole system of ticketing in the hands of the railway officials rather than, say, computers, kept the classes happy in that era. Contrast this with train travel in Europe or north America. You get your seat or berth number when you buy the ticket. About the only option you will get is whether you want to face the direction of travel and whether you want a “quiet compartment”, where you are not to speak on the mobile phone.

No one asks you for your ID card at any point of time—not while entering the station, not while boarding the train, not when the TC comes along. The closest you get to being asked to show a form of ID is perhaps when you book tickets for a show over the phone. That ID is your credit card. And that’s pretty much the limit of how interested the government is in tracking your whereabouts, your spending habits or where you are spending the night.

In India, the Aadhaar ID card has already covered around a billion people—a truly mind-boggling achievement for a developing country. Its purpose is ostensibly to eliminate the leakages in subsidies that are meant for the poor. But when it was launched by the previous government led by Manmohan Singh, Aadhaar was proffered as a means to check illegal immigrants. That remains a pipe dream. What it is, is a handy card to check your address for some utility and some security-related reasons. There is no such card in the UK. There is a national insurance card with a unique ID number but its use outside health and social security reasons is highly restricted. Identity in the UK is still largely determined—and this is really an important reflection of that society—by healthcare. It is your government-appointed local general practitioner (GP) who is literally your first point of contact as far as identity is concerned.

A pretty determined effort by the Labour government to introduce one was shot down amid a massive debate on civil liberties and privacy. It was the Tories, then in opposition, that shot it down, and I don’t think the nation of 60-odd million misses it.

However, there are two areas where ID checks could be introduced—elections and immigration. Following an expose of election fraud, a leading member of the ruling Tory party is calling for ID checks at polling booths. Eric Pickles, who is no stranger to the Indian subcontinent or indeed South Asian immigrants, says voters in the UK should be asked to show an identity card—not just the voter card that is slipped in through your door—at polling stations. His recommendation follows the discovery of massive electoral fraud at mayoral elections in Tower Hamlets, an east London neighbourhood with a large population of ethnic Bangladeshis, last year. A court removed the mayor, Bangladesh-born Lutfur Rahman, the UK’s first Muslim mayor, and barred him from contesting until 2021 for widespread voter fraud and intimidation. The lawyer for four ordinary voters who had brought the case to the Election Court alleged there had been “personations” by people voting in someone else’s name both at the booth and in postal ballots.

The other recommended check—this is more administrative in nature—is in counting in and counting out people coming to the UK. These exit checks—counting only long-term migrants and leaving everyone else out—are an obvious priority if you want to know exactly or even roughly how many foreigners enter the UK and then “disappear” into the shadow world of informal work and illegal migrants.

In India, a full and open debate on Aadhaar has never taken place. Indeed, the only debate is over the extent of its expanding use. Linking an Aadhaar number with providing subsidies to the poor may have had the effect of taking the wind out of the Left’s sails. 

But privacy is an issue that militates against the concept of a big (and prying) government, and by its very nature should interest both the Right and the Left. The longer that debate is buried, the more hurdles we place in the way of good governance that is emphasized by the current Indian government.

Dipankar’s Twitter handle is @Ddesarkar1