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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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

10531 - How the Indian state is building a new generation of digital public goods - Live Mint

Last Modified: Fri, Oct 14 2016. 02 25 PM IST

The private sector’s critical role in the digital age has complicated the position of the state

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Nandan Nilekani has used a fine analogy to compare the new digital payments network in India with its peers in other parts of the world. He told this newspaper that the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is like a highway without tolls while countries such as China or the US have walled gardens in which private companies control access to payments networks. Nilekani has touched upon an issue that we had commented on in these columns earlier.

Economists had been undecided during the heated debates on Net neutrality whether the Internet is a private good, a club good or a public good. Some clarity on this technical issue is of prime importance for contemporary public policy. These three categories of goods can be explained using the same motoring analogy that Nilekani used. A car is a private good. A toll road is a club good. An open road is a public good.

These distinctions are drawn based on two concerns—whether anybody can be excluded from using it and whether its use by one person reduces the availability for another person. These are, respectively, the conditions of non-rivalrous and non-excludable use.

A car is a private good because it can be used only by a few people while others cannot use it at the same time. A toll road is a club good because it excludes people who do not pay the mandatory levy while its use by one person does not reduce availability to other people once the toll has been paid. A regular road is a public good because it neither excludes anybody nor is its use rivalrous.

UPI has the features of a public good. It has an open architecture that others in the financial sector can build products on. The rest of the world depends on private networks that are club goods—you can come into the system after paying a toll to the company that has built the network. The toll operator not only allows you to come in after payment but also has the power to choose on your behalf which restaurant or motel to use during your journey.

In the Indian case, the combination of UPI with another open platform—Aadhaar—means that there is explosive potential once network effects come into play. The move to a cashless society in India is not exactly around the corner, since India still has one of the highest rates of cash usage as a proportion of its gross domestic product. However, that does not take away from the transformative potential of the UPI-Aadhaar combination.
That leads to another issue that casts light on the role of the state in the digital economy.

The traditional theory of public finance says that public goods should be owned by the state. It is slightly more complicated in the digital world, where digital platforms are created by private companies that need to collect tolls to make their innovations pay off. The sheer speed of innovation means that the state cannot take over the job of creating digital platforms that are free of tolls. On the other hand, network effects also create monopolies in the digital world, as was repeatedly pointed out in the landmark browser battle between Microsoft and Netscape at the turn of the century.

The Indian government has—either accidentally or otherwise—placed itself at the centre of this public policy issue. There are at least three digital public goods it has created that come to mind—Aadhaar, UPI and the National Agriculture Market. There are no gatekeepers who will collect tolls for either using these platforms or to build products on them. The question is: Should the government try to nurture new age public sector companies such as the National Payments Corporation of India, the creator of UPI, rather than endlessly subsidize the lumbering public sector dinosaurs of the planning era?

There are no easy answers, since there is cracking tension between the need to build digital public goods on the principle of open access while at the same time being sensitive to the fact that the rapid innovations of today are not possible without the private sector. These are issues that the Indian government will have to think about in the coming years: open roads or walled gardens?

Who do you think has the greater role in a digital era—the government or the private sector? Tell us at views@livemint.com