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

10728 - Demonetisation a catalyst for a cashless society - Live Mint


It is pleasing to see smaller merchants such as tea stalls, grocery stores as well as consumers in rural and smaller cities embracing digital payments

Arvind Gupta

Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

The Modi government’s demonetisation decision, replacing 86% of currency, was undeniably disruptive. No major disruptive decision comes without upheavals and it will be foolhardy to suggest that the removal of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes from circulation hasn’t inconvenienced most people, especially those on the wrong side of the socioeconomic and digital divide in India—the poor. Yet, the exercise was neither a knee-jerk reaction nor was it without consideration for the poor. In fact, it was just the opposite and reflective of the inclusive motto of the Prime Minister and his government’s ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ theme.
Removing high-denomination currency notes fits well with the government’s successful efforts at financial inclusion, through Jan Dhan, and using technology as an enabler, through Digital India, to improve the socioeconomic condition of the most marginalized sections in our society. The central idea behind this vision is not just about connectivity, but about how to leverage that connectivity in enabling consumers, small businesses, traders and farmers to harness technology for efficiency and productivity.

The Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile trinity and less-cash initiatives are the backbone of far-reaching reforms, development and a growth agenda. Each and every Indian can now have access to full financial services through the revolutionary IndiaStack. 

IndiaStack is open innovation at its best, with tight integration with Aadhaar identity, digital locker and payment systems available to all to build their innovations on top of these platforms. The data exhaust from the digitization efforts will make our society truly data rich, which in turn can be leveraged for a host of applications, including better credit facilities for small and medium businesses, customized insurance and savings products, among others.

Prior to demonetisation, the bulk of transactions were conducted through cash. Since then, it has reduced considerably and this move has proven to be a catalyst for consumption to be digitally driven and payments to go cashless. However, it must be acknowledged that large parts of the poorer sections of society, especially in tier-2 and 3 cities as well as in rural India, are not financially literate and distrustful of the formal banking system. In many cases, even if they have bank accounts, they are unaware and unable to use digital payments systems. That is the real challenge for the new-age banks and fintech disruptors. They need to ensure that a consumer trusts and uses digital payments as comfortably as cash.

It is pleasing to see, since the demonetisation drive, the number of smaller merchants such as tea stalls, grocery stores as well as consumers in rural and smaller cities embracing digital payments through mobile wallets, bank point-of-sale machines, among others. But in order to make digital payments pervasive and sustainable, India not only needs to focus on continuing to roll out digital infrastructure, but also proactively educate its citizens on the long-term benefits of digital transactions.

The payment supply chain should work on smartphones, as well as on feature phones in areas of low connectivity with confidence. There are already villages in states such as Gujarat and Haryana where digital payments are the norm, be it in grocery shops or managing welfare payments from the government. But this needs to be replicated around the country.

The digital transformation of cash is also a cost savings to the entire financial ecosystem and not just the public purse. From printing to cash management to physical infrastructure to securing and dispensing of currency, cash is very expensive. Banks and our government must think out of the box to pass these savings to consumers as incentives to embrace digital transactions.

India must use the demonetisation drive to harness its innovation and political capital, to ensure those who are on the wrong side of the digital and socioeconomic divide, especially in rural Bharat, can effectively function in a less-cash society.

So, while it has thrown up many challenges, this bold decision by the government definitely acts as a catalyst to ensure all parts of our society can be part of India’s growth story. The government cannot do it alone—all of us need to play our part in it.

Arvind Gupta is a digital innovator and Eisenhower Global Fellow, currently heading the BJP’s information & technology department. The views expressed here are personal.
His Twitter handle is @buzzindelhi