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.


Friday, March 10, 2017

10895 - Is tagging everyone the ultimate aim of Aadhaar? - National Herald India

Members of the Trinamool Congress women’s wing protest against the Centre’s decision to make Aadhaar card compulsory for staff who prepare mid-day meal on March 6 in Kolkata

Rights activists apprehend that the NDA government seems to be in an unusual hurry to tag everyone with the faulty unique identification project and calls for its evaluation

NH National Bureau
Mar 09th 2017, 10.05 AM

When it comes to collecting funds for political parties, the NDA Government may not bother to make Aadhaar mandatory and leaves plenty of scope for “anonymous donors”. But, for almost every government scheme relating to the poor, women or even children, there is an unusual hurry to make it mandatory. 

A February 28 notification, for instance, said that it was mandatory for children to have their Aadhaar numbers embedded into the database for them to be served their mid-day meal in Government schools—a move seen as bizarre by many.

After much public outcry, the Modi government slightly tweaked its stand to say on Tuesday assuring “no one will be deprived of the benefits for lack of Aadhaar.” But, that was only partially true because all those who enrol into a scheme would still be enrolled into Aadhaar soon after. The Centre, in fact, has been blatantly defying Supreme Court orders. On October 15, 2015, the apex court said that citizens couldn’t be forced to produce Aadhaar number to avail of government welfare schemes and benefits.

“Making Aadhaar mandatory for the delivery of public services is illegal and anti-poor. There is a need to carefully examine and evaluate the UID (unique identification) project before it is insidiously pushed into every aspect of our lives,” said a consortium of rights activists and campaigns on Tuesday in New Delhi. Some important issues were raised.


THE OBJECTIVE AND THE REALITY
The UIDAI website says the aim is to identify fake and ghost identities which result in leakages. However, that’s not exactly the ground reality.

Making UID mandatory to access rights and entitlements is, in fact, leading to exclusion both at the time of applying for entitlements and at the time of delivery. “Aadhaar has created enormous barriers to access hard-won legal entitlements,” says Dipa Sinha of the Right to Food Campaign.

In a PDS pilot study by Delhi Government's Department of Food and Supplies, when ration cardholders had problems with biometric authentication, the machines—by default—would put them in the category of “household yet to take ration” instead of “transactions with ‘No’ response from Aadhar’. And, for no fault of theirs, they would be removed from the scheme after a certain time. Many helpless poor thus would end up in the category of ‘fake or ghost identities’.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 7 claimed in the Lok Sabha that 3.95 crore ‘fake’ ration cards had been detected and leakages of about ₹14,000 crore plugged. Anjali Bhardwaj of the Satark Nagrik Sangathan points out that as the field studies show, most of these were likely due to authentication issues of the handheld devices.

Besides, with Aadhaar being dependent on internet and electricity, there were issues of connectivity not just in rural areas but in the national capital as well.  “In South Delhi, there is a ration shop with no signal and no network. Finally, the POS (point-of-sale) machine was hung on a jamun tree so it could work,” says Amrita Johri of Satark Nagrik Sangathan. “When there are so many failures. Why is there no acknowledgment of this by the government?”


PRIVACY AND IDENTITY ISSUES
Magsaysay award winner Bezwada Wilson of the Safai Karamchari Andolan is peeved with the government tagging all, forever. “I want the choice to make my identity. In some places, I can say I am son of a scavenger. It’s not my choice to be scavenger, you made me a scavenger, as a citizen I must have the right to reveal/hide my identity whatever it is,” he says.

“Aadhaar is a stigma upon us and makes our identity forever. Sanitation work is reserved by caste and Aadhaar perpetuates inequality,” laments Wilson.

In fact, women rescued from trafficking or sex work would also be marked in databases for life if they avail of the scheme that is supposedly aimed at assisting these women.


MAKING PEOPLE TRANSPARENT AND GOVERNMENT OPAQUE
Usha Ramanathan, independent legal researcher, says the UID (unique  identification) inverts the idea of transparency. “It makes people transparent but the state opaque,” she says. She says that the project began with the premise that the poor would be given an identity. However, now the narrative has changed to “you will not get your entitlement if you don't have this number.”

Not just that. With Aadhar rapidly becoming ubiquitous for almost everything—from banking to getting a cellphone connection to provident fund to government schemes—the various silos of an individual’s life would be available in the government’s hands, at any time.

“The state must have its limitations into entering my life. Why can't any person say stop this, why can't we discuss this? Why do we have Aadhaar? Nobody knows,” says Bezwada Wilson.

In the context of mid-day meal for children in government schools, issues of privacy and consent are even more important. “Why do children have to be numbered and marked to get meals?” asks Sinha. Biometrics in children, points out Ramanathan, aren’t even fully developed and Aadhaar doesn’t help in authentication in any way.

In the March 7 statement, though the Centre assures that a child without Aadhaar would not be denied benefits under mid-day meal or the Integrated Child Development Scheme, the school or ICDS functionary “should provide” Aadhaar enrolment facilities. Meaning, every child would be tagged.


“The emphasis on Aadhaar is not about delivery of services but it’s about tagging people—right from childhood,” concludes Ramanathan.