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.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

11034 - Do you trust Modi with your data? - Economist


India’s biometric identity scheme should not be compulsory
The BJP government should listen to people’s qualms about snooping

Apr 15th 2017

WHAT would Gandhi have made of Aadhaar, the ambitious scheme to provide each of India’s 1.3bn residents with a unique, biometrically verifiable identification? There is much that might have impressed the great pacifist. Before Aadhaar’s launch in 2010, many Indians had no proof of identity that could be recognised across the sprawling, multilingual country; now 99% of adults do. A cheap, simple and accurate way to know who is who, it helps the state channel services, such as subsidies, to those who really need them, thwarting corruption and saving billions. Linked to bank accounts and mobile phones, the unique 12-digit numbers can be used for swift, easy transfers of money. In time, they should help hundreds of millions of Indians enter the formal, modern economy.

Yet Gandhi might also have been alarmed. After all, he cut his political teeth resisting a scheme to impose identity passes on unwilling Indians. That was over a century ago, in South Africa. 

Aadhaar could scarcely be further removed in intent from colonial racism: it is designed to include and unite, not exclude. 

Still, many Indians worry that a programme billed as voluntary is increasingly, with little public debate, being made mandatory. This puts the whole project, and all its benefits, at risk of being struck down by the courts. And the government’s high-handed dismissal of concerns about its methods is stoking fears that it might misuse the data it has collected.

In recent months the government of Narendra Modi, the prime minister, has made access to a dozen government programmes contingent on possession of an Aadhaar card (see article). In March it sneakily inserted into a fast-tracked budget bill a rule that requires taxpayers to link their tax number with Aadhaar. 

There is talk of adding such things as school lunches and the purchase of airline tickets to this list. In answer to a question in parliament about whether the state was, in effect, forcing citizens into the Aadhaar scheme, the reply from India’s minister of finance was blunt: “Yes, we are.”

This would appear to contradict India’s Supreme Court. Its judges have yet to rule on a score of petitions aimed at stopping Aadhaar, but in the past two years the court has issued several statements asserting that the identity scheme should be voluntary—or at any rate that it should remain so until the court decides otherwise. Until it issues a binding opinion, the danger lingers that a pile of important government schemes could in future find themselves dangling in legal limbo.

In theory, the law on Aadhaar passed last year by Mr Modi’s government includes stringent protections against the sharing of information; its rules allowing exceptions on grounds of national security, although vaguely worded, appear well intended. Sweden has required all citizens to have a national ID number since 1947—the year of India’s birth—with little trouble. Most Swedes consider the scheme, which is linked to tax, school, medical and other records, an immense convenience.

Stockholm on the Ganges
But India is not a tidy Nordic kingdom. Mr Modi’s government, with its strident nationalism and occasional recklessness—such as last year’s abrupt voiding of most of the paper currency in circulation—does not always inspire confidence that it will respect citizens’ rights and legal niceties. By sneaking the linkage between Aadhaar and tax into a budget bill, it raises concerns about intent: will the government stalk tax evaders, or perhaps enemies of the state, using ostensibly “fire-walled” Aadhaar data? Many Indians will remember that, following sectarian riots in the past, ruling parties were accused of using voter rolls to target victims.

Mr Modi, who before taking office dismissed Aadhaar as a “political gimmick”, has been right to seize on its potential to transform India. It can bring more efficiency to government, convenience to citizens and savings to businesses that need to identify their customers. But for Aadhaar to fulfil its potential, Indians must trust that it will not be misused. Adopting coercive regulations, ignoring the Supreme Court’s qualms and dismissing critics peremptorily will achieve the opposite. As for the Supreme Court, it should stop dithering and make its views clear. Gandhi, a lawyer as well as an activist, would certainly have approved of that.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline "Per Aadhaar ad astra?"