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


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


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.

Friday, February 17, 2017

10846 - UIDAI CEO: We’ll ask SC to test Aadhaar Act on standard of privacy as a fundamental right - Medianama

By Nikhil Pahwa ( @nixxin , +NikhilPahwa ) on February 16, 2017

Rajesh Jain (Founder, Netcore) and Ajay Bhushan Pandey (CEO UIDAI)

“I would urge all of you, please read the Aadhaar act and the regulations,” UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said at the India Digital Summit last week, adding “What the underlying theme is that we have presumed that privacy is…whether privacy is a fundamental right or not is a question which will be answered by the Supreme Court, finally.” 

Pandey was responding to a question from MediaNama, which pointed out the Union of India’s statement in the Supreme Court that ‘Violation of privacy doesn’t mean anything because privacy is not a guaranteed right’, and asked about privacy protections in the law to prevent mass surveillance of citizens.

Pandey added that “We’ve presumed that the privacy is almost like a fundamental right. And if a fundamental right has to be protected, what protection measures should be there? So, whenever the hearing takes place, we are going to take this stand in the Supreme Court, saying that whether the privacy is a fundamental right or not doesn’t concern only Aadhaar, it concerns many other aspects. But so far as Aadhaar is concerned, please test the Aadhaar act on that standard, saying that presume that Privacy is a fundamental right, and whether whatever Aadhaar is doing meets that fundamental right criteria or not. And we’re very sure.”

“Now the Aadhaar act has been passed, it is almost one year, and the way we’re doing it, all other apprehensions that government will become big brother, government will aggregate big data and all kinds of things, data will be misused, private companies will misuse it, all these things, you know all these things today, you know I wouldn’t say there are no complaints, but genuinely there are no specific instances”, and “Nor have such complaints have been brought to the notice of the court.”

Please note that Renuka Sane (visiting fellow at the IDFC Institute, Mumbai) and Vrinda Bhandari (Advocate at the Delhi High Court) had detailed out earlier issues related to privacy in the Aadhaar Act, saying that the Aadhaar Act and the IT Act are “important failures in enshrining privacy.” Read their detailed analysis here. Importantly, they also point out that there is a possibility of a conflict of Internet “since it may be in UIDAI’s interest to cover up breaches of privacy. Without the UIDAI’s proactive action, an individual Aadhaar number holder is left without remedy.”*

The other question we asked Pandey was about the failure rate, and “what recourse do people who have been denied their benefits, have? This concern about fingerprints was also raised by the parliamentary standing committee, under Yashwant Sinha

To this, Pandey said that “Ideally there should be no failure rate. But what is happening is that we’re seeing a failure rate of 92-98%…I mean success rate. What is that 8% or 2%? That is somebody who could not get authenticated.”

“Sometimes people are very innovative,” he added. “They try to see if their fingerprint works or not (for someone elses Aadhaar number). I’m not saying that that is the only reason. 

Sometimes, you know, some of the fingerprints are worn out. In that case, we have the facility that you can authenticate any of the fingerprints. 10 fingerprints or the iris. Using this you can reach almost near 100%. The telecom companies that have started given SIMs (SIM cards for mobile numbers) using this, their success rate is 98%. Whereas, the business correspondents, who go to the villages and actually hand out cash, have a success rate of 92%. They have to improve that.”

Frankly, even 2% and 8% failure rates are significantly large numbers when you consider a population of 1.2 billion on Aadhaar: it is real people who are getting impacted, and someone denied their rights – rations are critical for many – shouldn’t be seen as just a percentage point. That is one of the problems with the proponents of Aadhaar (and digital payments): a lack of empathy, and thinking of technology as the be-all and end-all of India’s problems. Do read: Technology has never been this politial in India