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 20, 2017

11080 - Universal basic income can work only if welfare schemes are phased out: CEA Arvind Subramanian - Financial Express


The radical idea of giving free money under a universal basic income plan to reduce poverty can work in India only if the plethora of welfare schemes are phased out, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian has said.

By: PTI | Washington | Published: April 19, 2017 3:51 PM

Universal basic income (UBI) will guarantee all citizens enough income to cover their basic needs and would be easier to administer than the current anti-poverty schemes, which are plagued by waste, corruption, and abuse. (Reuters)

The radical idea of giving free money under a universal basic income plan to reduce poverty can work in India only if the plethora of welfare schemes are phased out, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian has said.  Subramanian — who had mooted the idea of universal basic income or a uniform stipend paid to every adult and child, poor or rich, in the annual survey of the economy this year — said such a move will have to be completely financed from within and implemented at a mass scale. Universal basic income (UBI) will guarantee all citizens enough income to cover their basic needs and would be easier to administer than the current anti-poverty schemes, which are plagued by waste, corruption, and abuse.According to The Economist, India’s proposal to give every citizen a cash transfer using the digital platform Aadhaar could reduce absolute poverty from 22 per cent to 0.5 per cent. “The Indian setting is completely different in two three different ways. One is that this is not going to be donor-financed at all (like in some African countries). It is going to be completely financed (from) within,” Subramanian said in his appearance at the Center for Global Development, a top American think-tank.

“So the issues that come up, relate to is do we have the fiscal space to do? Secondly, if it happened this is going to be kind of a scaled-up version. It’s not going to be 80 villages, what is the impact and then we think about scaling up. It will be a scaled-up kind of a thing,” he said, observing that this was something that does not necessarily need to be implemented by the centre like one scheme.

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States can start on their own, noted Subramanian, who is currently in the US to attend the annual Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Observing that providing UBI would amount to between four and five per cent of GDP, he said the Indian government cannot afford that.  “So the only way it can work is to potentially we can phase down some of the existing programmes, otherwise it does not work,” he said.

“Then you get into the political economy of questions like can you phase down other subsidies…the fertilizer subsidy, the employment guarantee scheme. Can you phase those programmes politically or now? When you can’t phase it down an extra four-five per cent of GDP is not very meaningful,” he said.  Subramanian also noted that some people think that India has built in a reasonably well social welfare programme in terms of giving away subsidised food.

“Would this undermine that? And the third big question is, is the infrastructure to implement this…the whole biometrics, financial inclusion, and mobile,” he said in response to a question.
“India currently has 1.1 billion people covered under biometrics. At the same time 250 million have banking financial accounts and about 60 per cent of those are linked to the AADHAAR numbers,” Subramanian said.

In terms of mobiles, 250 million people have smart phones, 300 million people have regular phones and 350 million people have no phones, he noted.  Ideally one would like to have the biometric number, bank account and mobile phone linked with each other, he said.  “That is the kind of dream, we call it the JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) infrastructure. At the moment, it is very patched in the way it is developed,” he said.

Noting that in principle nothing prevents a state government from going on its own, Subramanian said, what some of the states, which are thinking about it seriously, do want is federal money for this.  The states might ask for untied money from the Centre, he said.  “That is the kind of conversation that is beginning to happen, because that would make it easier for the state governments to finance this,” Subramanian said.
One of the starting points for this in India is the various social welfare schemes, like the employment guarantee scheme, the food or kerosene subsidy are very leaky and they do not do a very great job in reaching the poor, he said.

UBI can easily be an improvement on that, the chief economic adviser said.  Responding to a question, Subramanian said that it would be very difficult to phase out the existing subsidy programmes, because of the potential political opposition to it. 

 “That’s true across the world, very difficult to withdraw entitlements,” he said.  “So unless you phase down existing programmes…you can’t really (implement UBI)…because the magnitude is so big,” he said.