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


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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

10489 - Narendra Modi’s NITI Aayog power talk bears fruit; find out how - Financial Express

Niti Aayog catalogues state-level best practices

By: The Financial Express | Updated: September 24, 2016 7:32 AM

In the case of micro-irrigation, the Gujarat study shows a 34% saving in water usage in cotton and 35% in sugarcane along with significant energy saving and production levels—while the payback is as low as 1.3 cropping seasons in the case of bananas, it is not clear from the study whether that is pre- or post-subsidy. (AP)

When he came to power, prime minister Narendra Modi talked of fashioning NITI Aayog as a repository of best practices, so that one state could learn from another and, if need be, seek the other’s active assistance. A smartly brought out State Forward compendium, on thick art paper, compiles over 80 such case-studies across the country, from areas as diverse as Aadhaar-enabled services to fixing education and transport woes—very helpfully, the name and e-mail of the official overseeing the project has been given at the end of each one- to two-page summary. By their very nature, such summaries do not go into the detail of how the project was conceived/executed, but their outcomes are inspiring. 

So, in the case of the Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh, using of a Point of Sale device which captured the biometrics of those availing of PDS rations—and cross-verified these in real time from the Aadhaar database—resulted in a saving of R70 crore over a period of 18 months. 

Were the same levels of savings to take place across the country—the NITI Aayog book does not do this—total savings could well be over R18,000 crore; they could even be more if the proportion of fake ration-card-holders weeded out are much higher. Similarly, while it is true the e-mandi is no substitute for freeing up physical mandis across the country, the experiment in Karnataka showed a significant increase in market prices for a few crops.

In the case of micro-irrigation, the Gujarat study shows a 34% saving in water usage in cotton and 35% in sugarcane along with significant energy saving and production levels—while the payback is as low as 1.3 cropping seasons in the case of bananas, it is not clear from the study whether that is pre- or post-subsidy. 

In the case of education, where most bemoan the quality of government teaching, the Pratham example talks of how, after the intervention period, more than 70% of children were reading fluently and doing basic arithmetic.

None of this is to say that these examples can be scaled up equally successfully, or that a solution in one state can easily be transplanted into another—if it were that simple, states like West Bengal would have learned from the likes of Gujarat and had high industrial growth and low labour disputes. 

The point, however, is that when successful examples like this are showcased, they have more impact than, for instance, a World Bank report talking about solutions that worked in a Latin American setting you are not familiar with. 

Now that NITI Aayog has done this first step—a team of over 60 people put together the case-studies—it would be interesting to see how different states reach out to others to learn from their examples; indeed, part of NITI’s job must be an effective outreach programme which helps states discuss their learnings with one another.