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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Thursday, March 9, 2017

10891 - Aadhaar may be getting too big for its own good - Live Mint

Last Modified: Wed, Mar 08 2017. 06 55 PM IST


Aadhaar’s designers promised a robust privacy legislation, but the current government’s stance is that Indians have no fundamental right to privacy


Instead of keeping Aadhar voluntary and limited to the programmes that require it, the government may soon force Indians to use their ID number to access a ludicrously long list of services. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

To govern India is to be constantly overwhelmed. So much needs to be done, and there’s so little to do it with. It’s hardly surprising that the Indian state is rarely ambitious. It seeks to manage, not to transform.

One recent government initiative, less than a decade old, is by contrast epic in scope: the attempt to provide every resident of India with a unique, biometrics-linked ID number. This gratifyingly big programme, however, is in danger of getting too big.

In India, proving one’s identity is painful and sometimes impossible. Last week, merely in order to replace a SIM card that had stopped working, I had to provide three different forms of identification, including a recent rent agreement. Unless you can show you’re tied to a particular location, the Indian state doesn’t trust you— odd for a country where a quarter of the population migrates at one time or another.

And I at least have, or can lay my hands on, this sort of paperwork. For the vast majority of Indians, that’s long been impossible. Unable to prove their identity, they’ve also been unable to open bank accounts, take out insurance or even access basic government services.

The Unique ID project, or Aadhaar, was supposed to solve this problem. Those of India’s 1.3 billion residents who lacked documents would have their fingerprints recorded—and their irises scanned, just in case—and receive a number in return. 

That number would serve as a unique identifier, a stand-in for all other forms of identification. If needed, it could be used to borrow money, tap into a pension account and so on. If ever you had to prove your identity to access some service, the provider would check your fingerprints against a central database, which would then say, “Yes, this person is attached to this unique number, as surely as she is attached to her fingers.”
It was a simple, lightweight, elegant solution. I was entranced the moment I first heard of it, convinced it was critically necessary. The costs seemed minimal: The original planners of Aadhaar, under India’s last administration, pledged it would be simple and voluntary.

And, indeed, the program has fulfilled much of its promise. Over a billion Aadhaar numbers have now been handed out. Reliance Jio, a new mobile phone network from the Reliance Industries Ltd conglomerate, recently used the Aadhaar network to enroll 100 million subscribers in three months—in the same country where I ran around with a large folder stuffed with papers to replace my own SIM card. The government now has the option of transferring welfare payments directly to Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, cutting out India’s notoriously corrupt middlemen.

But things have also begun to go wrong. Promises that Aadhaar would be lightweight, voluntary and safe have been broken. The lightweight bit went first: Instead of just turning up and submitting your fingerprints, you had to submit various proofs of your address as well. This was not just cumbersome; it also meant that you were once again tied to a particular location.
Problems have multiplied under the current government. 

Instead of keeping Aadhar voluntary and limited to the programs that require it, the government may soon force Indians to use their ID number to access a ludicrously long list of services. Just in the last couple of months, news has emerged of plans to require a Unique ID to withdraw pension money, as well as to buy train tickets, to make plane reservations, even to attend a cricket match in Bengaluru. Most shockingly, the programme might be used to make it more difficult for kids to access free lunches at school, which had been one of India’s most useful policy interventions in recent decades.

On the one hand, this is sadly typical behaviour from the Indian state; in a country where nothing works, bureaucrats tend to seize on the one thing that does and wear it out until it doesn’t work anymore. On the other hand, it’s vaguely sinister. The government seems to be building up an Orwellian, ever-more-complete picture of every citizen. To what end, precisely? How does my pattern of cricket-watching figure in its plans for good governance?

Worst of all are constant concerns about the security of the Unique ID system. Aadhaar’s designers promised us robust privacy legislation, but the current government has shown no interest in passing such a law—unsurprisingly, since its official stance is that Indians have no fundamental right to privacy.

In the absence of any legal protections, citizens are left trusting Aadhaar’s administrators, a body called the Unique ID Authority of India. You’d think the UIDAI, being so very powerful, would be carefully overseen and clearly accountable. But it isn’t. It doesn’t even behave like a regular government agency; after an article appeared this month worrying about vulnerabilities in the Aadhaar system, a police complaint was filed against the author.

Aadhaar is one of the world’s grandest policy experiments, a genuinely brilliant way to use technology to make a billion people’s lives simpler. India’s government needs to recognize that its most exceptional achievement is in danger of being transformed into something much darker. 

Bloomberg