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.


Saturday, January 21, 2017

10727 - Demonetisation Is A Welcome Disruption For The Indian Economy - Swarajya


Balamurugan - Dec 14, 2016, 4:44 pm

SNAPSHOT


India has been arguing over the gains and pains of demonetisation since the announcement was first made.
The Indian public has a record of embracing disruption, and it’s always benefited the country greatly.
Demonetisation will prove to be highly beneficial for the economy in particular.


The scrapping of high-denomination currency notes is an unparalleled event in Indian history. An exercise of this nature, where 86 per cent of the currency was sucked out of a system that affects 1.25 billion people, has never been attempted in recorded human history. How this will pan out over the next few weeks and months, and what its intended consequences (tackling black money, counterfeits) and unintended consequences (the switch from cash to digital money, greater financial inclusion) will be will occupy the public discourse for many weeks to come.
One particular question that bothers many well-meaning commentators is, will the Indian public, a lot of them poor and illiterate, be able to cope with a less-cash economy? The answer to the question probably lies in the phrase used by one of the greatest modern economists, Adam Smith, “invisible hand”. It implied that an individual’s interests and survival instincts – for his own benefit – will have unintentional benefits to the society at large.
This writer believes that the Indian public is very enterprising and has, in the past, adapted to disruptive changes with more agility than many commentators give them credit for. This assertion is based on historical evidence.
Computerisation
The first known disruptive change in this writer’s life came in the form of computerisation. The effort was led by Rajiv Gandhi with professional guidance from Sam Pitroda. All opposition parties were up in arms at the time, particularly the left unions, who professed that jobs will be lost in an India that is still illiterate and who wanted to perpetuate an inefficient India that relies on manual book-keeping. Their disdain for computers was well known from the time when their stalwart Jyoti Basu refused to allow the offloading of a supercomputer in Kolkata port. In essence, they were attempting an infant murder of computerisation. But people stood behind the concept of modern India and today, the results are there for anyone to see. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is one of the largest e-commerce players in the world. Our banking system is now entirely computerised. Our Information Technology services are the envy of several countries. The “invisible hand” forced more people to learn how to use computers, and a new sector was born.
Election process
The election process was the second disruptive change. In those times, Indian elections were known for their notoriety. There was rampant booth capturing, bogus voting, violence and wielding of money power. Every general election used to cost lives. Then came a focused man, T N Seshan. He took on everyone, made tall claims that he would give voter identity cards and electronic voting machines (EVMs) and conduct peaceful elections. Many of us laughed at that prospect in the beginning. He and his successors have demonstrated ever since that an election without muscle power is possible. The “invisible hand” of self-interest has pushed voters – literate and illiterate alike – to adopt voter ID cards and EVMs to protect their democratic right and today, the Indian election process is a model for many democracies around the world. It is a different matter that the visible hand of politicians still leads to the wielding of money power.



Toll roads
The introduction of toll roads was the third disruptive change. In his early days in banking, this writer met the then chief executive of Volvo India who was setting up a new plant to manufacture trucks and buses with air-conditioned cabins and higher tonnage for longer hauls. He was convincing this writer on why we should finance those vehicles even though they were priced at three times that of the competing Leyland and TATA vehicles. He was passionately saying how the golden quadrilateral project proposed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee was going to change the way Indians travel. This writer was sceptical on the willingness of Indian truck operators to pay tolls (and their ingenuity to find alternate routes to avoid tolls). However, when the truckers saw the benefits that they would accrue from good roads in the form of fuel savings, faster travel and lesser maintenance costs, they rapidly adapted to this disruptive change, all in their interest.
Other disruptive changes
The story of Indians embracing the mobile telephony revolution has been told several times. In fact, several sceptics initially derided mobile phones as a rich man’s toy. But today, it is an incredible success story to watch everyone, a vegetable vendor, a plumber, a student or a pensioner, speak on a mobile phone, which would have been entirely unimaginable even just a decade ago.
The most recent disruptive change is the Aadhaar. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, with the help of entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani, attempted the most audacious experiment of providing an Aadhaar unique identity for every Indian. It was a mammoth experiment for 1.25 billion people. The sceptics had a field day. Can we create social security equivalent to the US? The intellectuals were against Aadhaar on the grounds of right to privacy and the possibility of excessive state control on individual lives. However, a billion people enthusiastically adopted Aadhaar when they understood the incentives that would come with it. Nilekani and his team delivered the largest and most cost-efficient system of the world.
These examples and many others from Indian history clearly indicate that Indians are highly enterprising and adopt change quite quickly when they see the incentives associated with it. It is no one’s case that one should be forced to start using digital money through government fiat. But suitable incentives, such as the ones recently announced by the government, can help accelerate the process of moving India to a less-cash economy.
Today, the country has more Facebook users than those who do mobile banking or use e-wallets. Government initiatives and incentives can bridge this gap and move India to a less-cash economy soon. The benefits of such a shift are enormous for the country in terms of tax compliance, black money, counterfeits and more, and should therefore be embraced.