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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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

11112 - Across the aisle: Go back and read George Orwell - Indian Express


The Yashwant Sinha-led committee slammed almost every aspect of Aadhaar and the Bill to establish the UIDAI.

Written by P Chidambaram | Published:April 23, 2017 1:34 am

What led to the idea of Aadhaar? Government transfers a number of benefits to different sections of the people.

Aadhaar, a unique identification number to every citizen, was an idea born in 2009. Was it an idea ahead of its time? A lot of people thought so, especially people working at the ground level among the poor and the neglected sections of the people.
Aadhaar was not a revolutionary idea. It is the foundation on which identity cards are issued in dozens of countries. Aadhaar was also not a novel idea. In India, other instruments have been issued — and are in use — which also serve as proof of identity for certain purposes. The best known are passports, driving licences, PAN and ration cards.

What led to the idea of Aadhaar? Government transfers a number of benefits to different sections of the people. Among them are scholarships, old age pensions, subsidies etc. In a vast country with a very large population, the delivery of benefits to the right persons poses a formidable challenge. Impersonation, falsification, duplication, pilferage, diversion and rent-seeking are the bane of any system of delivering benefits. Aadhaar was intended to get rid of the known evils of the system.

BJP Led The Opposition
Yet, when the idea of Aadhaar was mooted, it ran into fierce opposition. Nowhere was the opposition expressed more vehemently than in the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance presented to both Houses of Parliament on December 13, 2011. Mr Yashwant Sinha, as Chairman of the Committee, led the charge against Aadhaar. From the pronouncements of prominent BJP leaders at that time (Mr Narendra Modi, Mr Prakash Javadekar and Mr Ananth Kumar) it was evident that Mr Sinha had the support of a powerful section of his party. Today, if he reads some of the conclusions of the committee, he will be embarrassed!

The Yashwant Sinha-led committee slammed almost every aspect of Aadhaar and the Bill to establish the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It questioned the wisdom of collecting biometric information; it warned of ID fraud; it pointed out that the estimate of failure of biometrics was as high as 15 per cent; it highlighted issues of privacy and data security; it cautioned against the involvement of private agencies, etc. The committee’s most serious objection was to the possible exclusion of genuine beneficiaries and it observed:
“Although the scheme claims that obtaining Aadhaar number is voluntary, an apprehension is found to have developed in the minds of people that, in future, services/benefits including food entitlements would be denied in case they do not have Aadhaar number.”

UPA Moved Cautiously
Nevertheless, the UPA government moved forward cautiously, using its executive powers, a non-statutory UIDAI, and the impressive talent assembled by Mr Nandan Nilekani. Before the UPA demitted office, 600 million Aadhaar cards had been issued (now one billion) and some Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes had been linked to Aadhaar.

Studies have indicated that the DBT works: transfer of old age pensions through DBT has reduced the incidence of poverty. Cash transfers, instead of transfer in kind, have not adversely impacted food consumption; on the contrary they have increased consumption of eggs, pulses, fish and meat. On the other hand, cash transfer instead of kerosene has increased the demand for fuel wood.

However, sections of civil society continued to challenge Aadhaar, mainly on the ground that it may have the unintended consequence of excluding deserving beneficiaries. The Supreme Court stepped in and, in 2013, by an interim order, directed that Aadhaar could not be made mandatory to receive benefits. In 2015, the Court agreed to examine issues relating to privacy and referred the case to a larger bench of the Court. Aadhaar was permitted only for Direct Benefit Transfer schemes such as scholarships, social security payments, subsidised LPG and MGNREGA wages.

On assuming office, the NDA/BJP government did a U-turn. Mr Arun Jaitley admitted as much when he said that, following a presentation by the UIDAI and satisfactory answers to their questions, the government was convinced about the merit of the Aadhaar project!

While the change of heart was welcome, what one did not expect was that the government would throw all caution to the winds and extend Aadhaar, indiscriminately, to welfare as well as non-welfare programmes. The government has made the possession of Aadhaar practically mandatory to receive benefits or to comply with regulatory laws, thus brazenly disregarding the limits set by the Supreme Court. Aadhaar is now required to file an income-tax return, to get a mobile telephone connection, to receive a university degree and so on. Soon, it is feared, Aadhaar will be mandatory to get a driving licence or an air ticket or even a rail ticket. Will it then be extended to taking health insurance or becoming a member of a library or paying one’s club bills?

The Privacy Issue
That would be a gross and unconstitutional invasion of privacy. While a unique identity mark is necessary, it cannot become a potential device to spy on people’s lives or gather private information that has no relevance to good governance. We must remember we do not yet have a comprehensive law on data protection or privacy.

Implementing an idea as far reaching as Aadhaar requires careful design, pilot projects, testing and validation, and robust security features. Absent these limiting factors, yet implementing Aadhaar on a mandatory basis, will give the government the instrument and the power to build a mass surveillance system and take one step toward an Orwellian State. Don’t say you were not warned.

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