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

10733 - India tries a Moonshot - Statesman


  • Narain D Batra
    December 15, 2016 | 03:57 AM

Digital India has been called a moonshot project that draws together the best human and private-public capital to achieve a goal that was previously thought to be impossible: Total transformation of society.

Digital India, based on Aadhaar, focuses on three fundamental areas  --  access to digital infrastructure as a utility, services on demand, and digital empowerment of citizens through access to information. With more than a billion UIDs and growing, Aadhaar is the world’s largest database.

It has captured the imagination of the people of India. Besides the government, private enterprises, including some places of worship, have begun to use Aadhaar to prevent fraud and facilitate transactions. For example, a Hindu temple in Almora, Uttarakhand, makes Aadhaar cards mandatory for getting married. Temple priest Hari Vinod Pant told  The Times of India, “There have been instances when couples who came to the temple were found to be underage and it turned out they had eloped to get married. There have also been cases of Nepalese underage girls coming here to get married. So the temple committee took the decision of checking Aadhaar cards before agreeing to conduct the wedding.”

Indian Railways, one of the world’s largest railroad networks, a transport system that carries more than 22 million passengers a day, is planning to link subsidised concessional tickets for senior citizens and the underprivileged with Aadhaar to prevent fraud. 

But Digital India means much more: all railway structures and operations must be totally digitized and automated to eliminate deadly train derailments, such as the one that happened to Indore-Patna Express that killed scores of passengers.

In a major reshaping of the public health system, Aadhaar numbers will be used as unique patient identifiers in a new electronic health records system. National identification numbers will be generated and assigned to all health facilities, beginning with public health facilities.

To encourage the use of Aadhaar, the Reserve Bank of India has asked banks to ensure that all new transactional cards, effective from 1 January 2017, are also enabled to process payment using Aadhaar-based biometric authentication. Under the financial inclusion scheme, Jan Dhan, any Indian above 10 years who does not have a bank account can now open one in their name with an opening deposit of zero in any registered bank. Demonetisation has awakened the mostly dormant Jan Dhan. Bill Gates of Microsoft is not the only foreign observer who believes that India will “move away from a shadow economy to an even more transparent economy.” The whole world is watching.

There have been concerns about the misuse of biometric data. Aadhaar uses the highest available public key cryptography with built-in tools to prevent meddling. Just like the US Military, Aadhaar uses layers of firewalls for data protection. Besides, Aadhaar databases are segregated. Segregation adds to security.

Entrepreneurs regard India’s digital venture as an extremely bold initiative. Jack Hidary, a senior advisor at Google X Labs, speaking at EmTech 2016: The Digital Future, called India a moonshot nation that is “going through a radical transformation the like of that we have never seen.” A moonshot, he said, is an initiative that aims to achieve a goal that was previously thought to be impossible because it attracts the best human capital and finance from long-term investors.

Sharad Sharma, co-founder of iSpirit, said at the conference, “India is entering a phase of innovation that is substantially different from what we have seen until now.” Aadhaar, he stated, will create other digital possibilities such as “the presence-less layer, which means I can open a bank account and establish who I am without doing in-person verification.” Aadhaar will enable millions of people to use their e-signs for paperless transactions. It has made possible the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a debit card system that is a less expensive alternative to MasterCard and Visa.

With 650 million smartphone users, it is expected that within a year, mobile cash will become all-pervasive in India, especially when the “digital consent” becomes an operational and integral part of the cashless payment system. As reported in LiveMint, Mr Sharma said, “We are data poor right now, but we are putting in place a new system to manage digital consent, so nobody can aggregate data about you without a digital permission token from you. This is going to be the largest country-scale system in the world  --  a techno-legal solution… a very modern approach, which is a techno-legal sort of solution to manage privacy.”

While the government uses Aadhaar to ensure the delivery of benefits and services to residents, albeit with a special focus on the underprivileged, business enterprises are developing Aadhaar-based apps for the nation’s burgeoning e-commerce. That is drawing Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others to collaborate and compete with Indian enterprises to reach rural India. Consider this: in 2014 Jeff Bezos of Amazon invested $2 billion, and in June 2016 he pledged another $3 billion, to build a logistics network to cover the entire country to have a major stake in the online market expected to grow to $110 billion in the coming decade, according a Wall Street Journal report.

Google and Tata Trusts have trained thousands of female trainers and sent them to rural India on motorbikes to help rural women to learn the use of smartphones and tablets for building their small home-based businesses.

Women in India lag far behind men on social media, e-commerce and mobile connectivity. Parents discourage girls from having smartphones. They fear that young girls might go astray or do something that might shame the family. For their own self-interest, it is important for IT companies, therefore, to educate people and remove their fear of smartphones, especially by women so that they can fully participate in opportunities created by Digital India. Once men see that women are using smartphones for socially useful purposes, their hostility will diminish. That is the hope for Digital India: Give every woman a smartphone and see India transform.

The writer is Professor of Communications, Norwich University.