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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Saturday, April 22, 2017

11095 - Mandatory Aadhaar : Arm-twisting Republic - Hard News


Posted on : April 21, 2017

The government's push to make Aadhar mandatory should frighten everyone. It is an Orwellian nightmare coming true

Nikhil Thiyyar Delhi
The Union Government seems to suffer from a basic lack of understanding of what the word optional means. At least that's what the Apex Court implied while hearing a public interest litigation that challenges the government’s move to amend the Income Tax Act through the Finance Act, 2017. The Supreme Court was categorical in its reprimand of the government's machinations when it said,"“How can you make Aadhaar card mandatory when we have passed an order to make it optional?" What must be noted here is that the Supreme Court's consternation has repeatedly fallen on deaf ears. Not only has the government flouted the SC's instructions, it has defiantly gone in the opposite direction. 

In the light of the government's push to make the UIDAI system mandatory perhaps the more pertinent questions to ask regarding the Aadhar Bill are: does it provide enough privacy safeguards and does it ensure access to public services? The answer to the first question is an outright no. In defending the Aadhar Bill, the Attorney General (supposedly a public representative) has argued that we the citizens of India essentially have no right to privacy. This is adding insult to injury. The bill was passed with no public consultation of what privacy safeguards to implement and has no built in safeguard for public or independent oversight. The Aadhar database is a disaster waiting to happen. A single breach could mean that sensitive data of millions of our citizens could be compromised in one stroke. In what can only be an eerie sign of things to come, FIRs were filed against eight websites for illegally collecting Aadhar data. As if this was not enough, the Aadhar bill gives law enforcement officials access to the database in matters of national security. In the guise of strengthening our public distribution systems, the government is pushing us towards becoming a surveillance state. It will be child's play for any intelligence agency to track anyone they want to for any whimsical reason. The Report on surveillance in India by the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) found that on average, the Central government alone taps more than 1 lakh phone calls a year, with around 7500-9000 phone interception orders being issued by it monthly. Combining this with requests from the state governments, the report concluded that, Indian citizens are routinely and discreetly subjected to government surveillance on a truly staggering scale. With Aadhar becoming mandatory this situation is set to degrade into a bottomless abyss where privacy becomes an urban legend. 

The exclusionary aspect of Aadhar has been commented upon multiple times. Nevertheless, it is a fact that needs to be reiterated once more: the Aadhar card is actually a tool to deprive our poorest and most vulnerable citizens of access to public services. There was the tragicomic example of a village in Jharkhand where in order to achieve 100 percent seeding of Aadhar for MNREGA beneficiaries, the village panchayat simply struck off all the names from the rolls. If there were no beneficiaries, no card required either. Aadhaar authentication requires not only internet connectivity but also biometrics and mobiles to work at the same time. In many villages of our country, not a single one of these technologies can be relied upon. Almost a year after Rajasthan introduced it, only 45 percent ration card holders used Aadhaar at ration shops. Biometric machines failed to authenticate about 10 to 15 percent of the drought-hit state’s one crore ration beneficiaries. 10 to 15 lakh people went without essential food grains because the much-hyped system went kaput. 

The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, as the name suggests, aims at targeted delivery of subsidies. The government has issued close to 22 notifications making Aadhaar mandatory for the receipt of a range of services, ranging from the Mid-Day Meal scheme to maternity benefits. The Aadhaar number is likely to become a pre-requisite for filing income tax returns and applying for a PAN card. Any marginalised member of our society who doesn't have an Aadhar number can say goodbye to a host of public services that are critical to his/ her survival. Like a Kafka-esque novel where a lunatic bureaucracy keeps devouring itself, the Aadhar card is a classic case of good intentions gone horribly wrong. Making it mandatory would only make matters worse.