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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Monday, March 13, 2017

10898 - Making Aadhaar mandatory for free midday meals in schools is Orwellian - Economic Times Blog

March 10, 2017, 12:31 AM IST Abheek Barman in Folk Theorem | Economy, Edit Page, India | ET

Eight years ago, Indians on a whim and probably a prayer to our innumerable deities, approved a potentially dangerous model of self-identification. Called Aadhaar, it was promoted by folks who copy-pasted the US’ social security system on India.
This model was supposed to wipe out graft in the subsidy system. Replace subsidies with cash, let the system be voluntary — only poor, consenting adults need to join. On the face of it, it was a benign order. Today, it stinks of all that was wrong when Eric Arthur Blair wrote about this sort of thing.

You’re the Meal
On February 28, the government — through Prakash Javadekar, minister of human resource development — said every child with access to school education and a midday meal scheme should line up for Aadhaar.

So, children from Porbandar to Purulia and Gangtok to Guntur will have to get their fingerprints and eyes registered electronically to get one meal from a government-sponsored school? Yes, if the ministry’s fatwa is correct. Kids in Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya and Assam are exempt, mysteriously, from this fatwa. Which means they can have lunch without logging into the all-seeing sarkari eye in the sky.

There are many things wrong with this. First, Aadhaar was designed to be a voluntary scheme, which means only consenting adults could take part. And why not?


Innocent kids know nothing about costs, prices and subsidies, which is what Aadhaar was supposed to be about. What does a 10-year-old know about cooking gas subsidies?

Eat their hearts out

Given that, what is the logic to link Aadhaar with primary school education? Or a free lunch in school? Does the state have the right to deny a meal to a poor child if she hasn’t signed up to be fingerprinted?

Second, it is silly to assume, as the sarkar must have done, that it is better to dole out cash rather than fresh cooked meals at schools. Yes, the anganwadi or crèche system or the midday meal scheme can go wrong sometimes because of the lack of basic hygiene or awareness in the hinterland. But those events are outliers. On average, the anganwadi system for young children and midday meal schemes in schools are doing all right, thank you very much.

The midday meal scheme as well as the Right to Education Act, which GoI signed in 2009, ensured that kids landed up in schools, whatever the standard of teaching was. Across states, the level of government school teaching ranges from ‘nothing’ to ‘good’. Even assuming nothing is taught but a meal is served, the kids and their parents are better off.

Suppose every child lines up to get fingerprinted and her retina recorded and the sarkar decides to reward her parents with cash equal to the value of the midday meal. Given the graft and porosity of states’ administrations, what is the guarantee that even a single rupee will come through? Is this a replacement for a garam meal at lunch in school?

Even if teachers don’t teach much in sarkari schools, anganwadi workers land up everyday, whatever the weather, to feed the kids their midday meal. This was a tradition that began in Madras (now Chennai) in the mid-1920s, when the first midday meal scheme was started in schools. That it continues today is a mark of its robustness.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Three, replacing a midday meal with cash transfers will be a blow to skills of socialisation — and possibly national homogeneity. But does the government care?

In our society, where norms about how you eat and with whom are rampant and it’s a shame to share a cup of water with someone across a caste or class or religious divide, a shared school meal makes a big difference. 

Why? Sharing a meal in school, without having to bother about the identity of the person sharing it with you, can teach a lesson for life to young children. Not knowing or caring about the caste or religion of the person cooking the meal might help dilute narrow identities in young minds. Applied properly and voluntarily to the correct projects and people, Aadhaar is an excellent idea. Imposed on poor, schoolgoing children, to possibly deprive them of fresh lunch, socialisation and attendance will be an abomination.

In that case, ask yourself why the sarkar wills this. The only logical answer I can think of is to build a database of every child who will become an adult in 10 years or so. This is a frightening thought.

Eric Arthur Blair, born in Motihari, modern Bihar, officer in Burma, journalist in Britain, volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, would probably have had a telling phrase to describe this recent drive by the government. After all, under his pen name, George Orwell, he wrote today’s bestseller, Nineteen Eighty-Four. And he coined the phrase, ‘Big Brother is watching you’.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.