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.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

10453 - Delivering ration: 'When Aadhar-based system doesn't work, stick to existing, well-tested reforms' - Scroll.In

Published Sep 16, 2016 · 10:30 am.   Updated Yesterday · 11:04 am.

Citing glitches in the authentication system being used in Rajasthan and Jharkhand, experts urge Bihar to improve delivery through other means.

Image credit:  Right to Food Campaign

While the Union government is pushing to make the use of Aadhaar, a biometrics-based digital identity number, mandatory in the public distribution system, academics and social activists have written to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, asking him to not switch to the fingerprint-based authentication system for the distribution of ration, and to instead focus on improvements in delivery through other measures.

In the letter, development economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera, and social activists Kamayani Swami and Ashish Ranjan of Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, an organisation that works with rural workers in Aaria, Bihar, pointed out that the experience of fingerprint authentication of welfare scheme beneficiaries in other states such as Rajasthan and Jharkhand was “very negative” and resulted in “depriving large numbers of people of their entitlements” when the technology did not work reliably in rural areas, and due to data entry errors, causing immense hardship to beneficiaries.

Drèze had earlier analysed Jharkhand government data to show that after the biometrics-based authentication was made compulsory in ration shops in Ranchi district, ration card holders received only 49%, or less than half their entitlements, in July and August.

"Imposing a technology that does not work on people who depend on it for their survival is a grave injustice," the letter noted.

The authors of the letter added that Bihar had recorded "rapid improvements" in the ration system through other means till 2014, with the estimated grain leakage falling from 90.9% to 24.4% between 2004-'05 and 2011-'12. A 2016 survey by Dreze-Khera had found irregularities in delivery creeping in again in Bihar and Jharkhand. Bihar would do well to continue its own reform measures such as information boards in ration shops, ensuring timely delivery, and fixing schedules for grain distribution, they said.

Cash or Aadhaar-authentication
Under the National Food Security Act, beneficiaries are entitled to 5 kg subsidised grains per person per month. In May last year, the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution wrote to all state governments and Union territories to opt for either cash transfers in place of food, or to adopt fingerprint-based authentication of beneficiaries by installing point-of-sale machines at ration shops across their states.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has opposed Aadhaar being made compulsory in social schemes while several people still do not possess Aadhaar numbers. Bihar is among the states with lowest levels of Aadhaar enrolment and linking of ration cards with Aadhaar, the Financial Express reported earlier this month. 

In their letter this week, the academics and activists criticised the Union government's imposition on the states.
Said Kamayani Swami, an activist with Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan in Araria, Bihar: “The experience in Rajasthan and Ranchi in Jharkhand shows that Aadhaar technology is not bringing down corruption as the dealer is still allowed to do a manual override when fingerprints don’t work or if there are data entry errors or are doing quantity fraud, but the switch is causing hardship and exclusion for beneficiaries, reducing their access."

Excerpts from the letter:

Respected Chief Minister,
We are writing to share our apprehensions about the imposition of Point of Sale(PoS) machines in the Public Distribution System (PDS), and also about replacing food with cash.

As you know, we have been watching the PDS in Bihar with keen interest. We were impressed with the rapid improvements that took place until 2014, but disappointed to find no evidence of further progress in our most recent survey in June 2016.
Meanwhile, we hear that the central government is putting pressure on state governments to explore two alternatives to the Public Distribution System: switch to cash, or deploy Aadhaar-enabled machines at ration shops. In response to this pressure, several state governments have started using Point of Sale machines.

The experience of these states (especially Rajasthan and Jharkhand) with PoS machines is very negative. On the one hand, Point of Sale machines fail to address the main source of corruption, which is quantity fraud (dealers give people less than their full entitlements) rather than identity fraud. On the other hand, because the Point of Sale system is so unreliable (it requires several fragile technologies to work together, in addition to correct seeding of Aadhaar numbers etc.), it ends up depriving large numbers of people of their entitlements.

In Ranchi District (the pilot district in Jharkhand), Public Distribution System cardholders have been getting less than half of their entitlements since the Point of Sale system was made compulsory. Imposing a technology that does not work on people who depend on it for their survival is a grave injustice.

The states that decided to try Point of Sale machines did so because they understand that the other option given to them by the centre, i.e., to switch to cash transfers is neither practical nor advisable.

Among other issues, the banking system in Bihar is simply not ready to handle mass cash transfers. As with NREGA wages and social security pensions, the payments are likely to be very irregular and chaotic, depriving people of the little security they have from the Public Distribution System and causing much discontent.

Instead of switching to other systems that are almost bound to fail, we feel that the Bihar government should persevere with well-tested Public Distribution System reforms – timely door-step delivery of grain, putting ration lists and other Public Distribution System data online, ensuring a fixed schedule for delivery of grain, etc.

Some of these reforms have already been initiated in Bihar, with significant results, but others are yet to be implemented (in our experience, for instance, very few ration shops in Bihar have an information board). Further, much more needs to be done to make Public Distribution System dealers accountable, if not replace remove them altogether as has been done with much success in Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

The Bihar government could also consider using non-biometric Point of Sale machines that record transactions in offline mode, for weekly uploading on the Public Distribution System portal. This would ensure reliable recording of last-mile transactions without the fatal dependence on multiple fragile technologies inherent in the Point of Sale system.

Prakash Kumar, the deputy secretary food and civil supplies, in the Bihar government, said that the state government had launched two pilot projects, one to experiment with cash transfers in Kasba block in Purnea district, and a second on fingerprint-authentication using Aadhaar in Nalanda district.


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