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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Sunday, September 11, 2016

10407 - The great GDP fudge - Indian Express

The great GDP fudge
Same data, opposite conclusions, Dr Subramanian?


Written by Jairam Ramesh | Published:September 10, 2016 12:00 am


After the new GDP series was rolled out under the current government, it revealed that India’s GDP growth in 2013-14 was 6.9 per cent compared to the reported 5 per cent, as per the old methodology.(Illustration by: C R Sasikumar)

“I am puzzled by the new GDP growth numbers. This is mystifying because these numbers, especially the acceleration, are at odds with other features of the macro economy. Import of goods declined. typically growth booms are accompanied by surges in imports not declines… similarly, real gross capital formation declined”. This was the chief economic advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian in an interview to the Business Standard on February 3, 2015. Lest you be fooled into believing that the CEA was being intellectually honest about the state of the current economy, he was actually talking about the revised GDP number for the year 2013-14, when UPA 2 was in power.

After the new GDP series was rolled out under the current government, it revealed that India’s GDP growth in 2013-14 was 6.9 per cent compared to the reported 5 per cent, as per the old methodology. A 6.9 per cent GDP growth in 2013-14 would have meant that India was the second fastest growing large economy in the world, after China. But the CEA expressed bewilderment at that number because he said this was in dissonance with the actual macro-economic reality. He explained meticulously how other economic parameters such as imports, gross capital formation etc are truer indicators of GDP growth and dismissed the view that India’s GDP could have grown as fast in 2013-14.

Fast forward to September 2016. India’s imports have fallen for 20 straight months. In April 2016, India’s imports touched a six-year low. Exports are still at 2011 levels, down significantly from the 2013 peak. Industrial production which creates real jobs in the economy is actually shrinking. Gross fixed capital formation has fallen. What does the same CEA have to say this time about the same macro-economic indicators — “It signals improvement in underlying real economy, holds out hope for the corporate sector”.

In a poorly disguised attempt at face-saving, the CEA has waxed eloquent about how most commentators have misinterpreted the latest GDP numbers showing 7.1 per cent growth, driven almost entirely by government spending (IE, September 8). He says “Nearly all commentary has focused on decline in constant price GVA and GDP. But real story lies in nominal magnitudes”. This is the first time that we are being asked to judge the economy’s health by nominal GDP and not real GDP, that is GDP adjusted for inflation. In a hair-splitting effort, he argues we should focus on nominal growth, then argues that the nominal growth should not be assumed to be solely due to increase in prices but also an increase in quantity but does not explain if that was the case, then why not just use real growth directly.

Instead, he makes a convoluted point about corporate revenues growing faster than interest costs which could boost the currently anemic credit growth, going forward. He then lays out a string of conditions — if monsoons boost agriculture growth, if falling exports have bottomed out, if the construction sector can perk up due to “reforms” — then we can be cautiously optimistic about GDP growth.

Technical mumbo-jumbo and caveats aside, he essentially surmises that we should be ecstatic that nominal GDP growth is now in double digits. One really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel if one had to go back to the basics of nominal and real GDP growth and take solace in a nominal double-digit growth, albeit with cute quotes about “nominal being real” and “real being nominal”, this time.

All this hiding behind economic theory misses the simple point — using exactly the same yardstick that the same CEA applied in passing judgment about India’s 2013-14 GDP growth calculated under the same methodology. India’s current state of the economy is in utter disarray. While we all endorse the Bernard Shaw quip that “if all economists were laid end to end, they would never reach a conclusion”, this one is about the same economist in the same position reading the same set of numbers but taking two diametrically opposite views. If the CEA had a well-argued position on his reservations about India’s 2013-14 GDP growth, then how can he be optimistic about the state of the current economy using exactly the same macro-economic parameters?

We have been repeatedly witness to this dangerous trait of the current government and its inhabitants becoming delusional with their own rhetoric. We saw that with the government’s claim of savings of Rs 15,000 crore in the LPG subsidy scheme due to Aadhaar based Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT), which, again, the CEA endorsed healthily through similar articles in the English press. It turned out, as the CAG pointed out last month, that a meagre Rs 1,764 crore (approximately 10 per cent) of the subsidy savings was due to DBT and the remaining 90 per cent of the savings was due to the fall in global oil prices. The government and its CEA were simply disingenuous and resorted to such misleading claims to falsely justify their decision to table the Aadhaar bill as a money bill and pummel it through Parliament. The current claims of the CEA about the health of the economy are similarly misleading.

I have known Arvind Subramanian to be a fine and fearless economist for almost three decades. I have myself tried in the past to lure him back but the timing was not ripe for him. He has never been an apologist for anything dubious. My piece of unsolicited advice to him: Spin is a powerful tool in both cricket and politics but not in economics. Leave it to those who have made a brilliant career out of it — such as his senior minister.
The writer is a Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha