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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Friday, December 23, 2016

10589 - Tax Officials Weak Link In Modi Government – OpEd - Eurasia Review




India's Narendra Damodardas Modi. Photo from Narendra Modi's social networks, Wikipedia Commons.
BY N. S. VENKATARAMAN NOVEMBER 10, 2016


The demonetization of high value currency by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has certainly rekindled hope among Indians that the Modi government could take earnest steps to root out corruption in India.
While the demonetization announcement has created some genuine temporary problems for the common man, particularly daily wage earners, street vendors etc., there is considerable understanding and appreciation among the cross section of Indians in the middle and lower income group about the strong measure initiated, that can go a long way in rooting out black money and curbing corruption in India.

People have responded positively by putting up with the discomforts, which reveals the concern of the common man in India about the widespread corruption and urgent need to put it down at any cost and their willingness to extend support to the anti corruption measures of Modi government.

What will be Mr. Modi’s next step?

Now, people wonder as to what will be the next step that Mr. Modi would initiate to carry on the fight against corruption. People recall that in 1978 there was demonetization by the then Morarji Desai government which caused some immediate sensation which was short lived and there was no visible change in the situation for the better. There is anxiety among people that the present exercise of Mr. Modi should not fall in the same pattern as it happened after the demonetization in 1978.
Modi government has initiated some meaningful steps to eliminate corruption and black money in India in the last 30 months, which include steps to open bank account to large section of poor people in the country, enlisting more than 90% of the people as Aadhaar card holders and linking Aadhaar card to various schemes as well as income tax department etc. to ensure transparency. But, such move has really not made any big dent in the extent of corruption in the country at various levels so far.

The problem for Mr. Modi in his fight against corruption is that considerable section of tax officials at various level serving in the government of India and state governments including income tax department, central excise, sales tax department are corrupt themselves.

In the past, several senior officials in these department have been caught red handed while indulging in corrupt activities and some of them have been punished and quite a number of them have escaped punishment by exploiting the loophole in the law. The question is how can Mr. Modi catch the tax evaders and put down corruption, when several of his tax officials themselves are corrupt.

While the demonetization move have caught the imagination of the people and people want Mr. Modi to initiate more anti corruption measures, Mr. Modi can take the anti corruption crusade to logical end only if he has strong force of tax officials who are committed to the cause of anti corruption and would be willing to put forth their honest efforts in discharging their responsibilities.

Obviously, Mr. Modi is aware of this disturbing scenario as he himself made the observation in his nation wide address on 8th November, stating “Which honest citizen would not be pained by reports of crores worth of currency notes stashed under the beds of government officers?”

Challenge ahead of Mr. Modi
It is not clear as to how Mr. Modi would weed out the corrupt and errant tax officials and restore the tax departments with the character that is required, to enable Modi government to carry on with the anti corruption measures. So far, there is no indication that any fear has been created in the officials who indulge in corruption.

It appears that the corruption system has become fool proof in the tax departments and lengthens over long chain from top to bottom. Breaking the chain in a big country like India where there is considerable collusion between corrupt politicians, business men and officials is no easy task.

While Mr. Modi has just demonetized the high value currency and created hopes among the people, the next step of cleansing the tax departments of corrupt officials, which is a precondition for his anti-corruption crusade to succeed, does not seem to be an easy task. There is the grim challenge facing Mr. Modi in the coming days.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.