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.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

11065 - Winning with Aadhaar: It’s a safe and secure platform for good governance and India’s digital revolution - TNN

April 17, 2017, 2:00 AM IST Ravi Shankar Prasad in TOI Edit Page | Edit Page, India | TOI

Aadhaar, the largest digital identity programme in the world, is now being acclaimed as a marvel of India’s technological innovation and prowess. India has developed it for good governance and for serving poor and marginalised people. It is in contrast to other biometric identity programmes in the world, which are mainly used for security, border management and so on.

Aadhaar was started, no doubt, by the UPA government in 2009. But its seed was sown by the BJP-led government in 2003. It evoked strong criticisms in initial years – including from courts and from my own party BJP – on issues such as for what purposes Aadhaar will be used or not used, NPR vs Aadhaar, citizenship, absence of data protection and privacy measures.

When NDA came to power in 2014 it immediately started addressing these issues and finally, in 2016, brought out the historic Aadhaar Act which gave a strong legislative basis to Aadhaar and clearly defined the purposes for which it will be used, while providing strong data and privacy protection measures.

Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Aadhaar has made rapid progress. Over 50 crore Aadhaar cards have been issued in less than three years, taking the total number to 113 crore. More than 99% of the adult population has Aadhaar. The present focus is on enrolling children in schools and anganwadis.

The government started using Aadhaar in programmes like PDS, Pahal, MGNREGS, pensions, scholarships, etc now extended to around 100 programmes. This ensures benefits reach only intended beneficiaries and cannot be siphoned off by unscrupulous middlemen. For example, Aadhaar based PDS ensures food grain entitlement is given only to deserving beneficiaries and not cornered by corrupt elements.
Aadhaar has started producing results. According to our estimates Aadhaar has saved approximately over Rs 49,000 crore in two and half years by eliminating crores of ghost beneficiaries in programmes like MGNREGS, Pahal, schools, PDS. The World Bank, in its Digital Dividend report published last year, has estimated that if Aadhaar is used in all Indian government schemes, it will accrue savings of $11 billion every year through elimination of ghosts and duplicates. World Bank chief economist Paul Romer has acclaimed Aadhaar, saying “it could be good for the world if this became widely adapted”.
Aadhaar has also enabled more than five crore people to open bank accounts. Now more than 43 crore individuals have linked Aadhaar with their bank accounts; they can receive government benefits and subsidies directly in their account. Aadhaar enabled payment system has taken banking services to rural and remote areas of the country where there are no brick and mortar bank branches or ATMs. Aadhaar soon will also become a means for making cashless payments through fingerprints for those who are not digitally literate.

In addition, Aadhaar is innovatively being used in other services too to empower people, such as Jeevan Pramaan, digital locker, e-sign opening of NPS account, obtaining Pan card and passport.

Despite this impressive record, several myths are being spread by critics of Aadhaar. One of them is Aadhaar has been made mandatory in programmes such as mid-day meal, MGNREGS and PDS leading to exclusion and denial of benefits to the poor. 

The Aadhaar Act has clear provision that no one can be denied services or benefits for not having Aadhaar. Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act is clear – in case an individual has not enrolled for Aadhaar, he has to be provided enrolment facilities and till the time Aadhaar is assigned he is to be given benefits through alternate means of identification.

Critics also say that old people and manual labourers are being denied because their fingerprints are worn out and fail to match. Let me say here that Aadhhar allows matching through any of 12 means – 10 fingerprints, two irises which usually takes care of most situations. If a finger does not work, other fingers or iris could be used for biometric matching. In rare cases, when none works, departments have been told to use alternative means of identification.

The next myth is that Aadhaar violates privacy of individuals and could be used by private and government entities for linking databases leading to profiling and state surveillance. 

Misinformation is also being spread about security of Aadhaar. Let me say here that nothing is further from the truth. Privacy and security have been fundamental to system design. 

Moreover, Aadhaar Act 2016 provides a strong statutory basis for it.

Aadhaar has been designed in a such a way that only minimum information is collected and Aadhaar numbers don’t have any intelligence built into them. Aadhaar Act prohibits collection of any information about caste, religion, entitlement, medical history. Further, UIDAI doesn’t collect purpose of the authentication and this knowledge only remains with service providers.

Further, Section 29 completely prohibits the use of biometrics collected by the Aadhaar Act for any purpose other than Aadhaar generation and authentication. It also injuncts service providers including government departments from using Aadhaar for any purpose other than specified to  users at the time of collection of Aadhaar numbers.

Regarding security of the Aadhaar system, UIDAI uses one of world’s most advanced encryption technologies in transmission and storage of data. As a result, during the last seven years, there has been no report of breach or leak of data out of UIDAI.
Aadhaar has established itself as a safe, secure and convenient identity platform which will change lives of 125 crore Indians for the better, and ultimately take India towards a true digital revolution.

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