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.


Friday, April 28, 2017

11163 - In Chhattisgarh’s Kardana, Biometric Failures Are Depriving Old Villagers of Their Pension - The Wire



The government is not releasing pensions for people who have failed to submit their Aadhaar number to the bank. This is not only a violation of Supreme Court orders but also an infringement of the fundamental right to life.

Villagers in Kardana, Chhattisgarh. Credit: Vipul Paikra

Kardana village is situated in Batauli block of Surguja district in Chhattisgarh – about 12 km from Batauli and 60 km from the district headquarters in Ambikapur. It is surrounded by hills and inhabited by Adivasis, including particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs). The village has 946 residents, of which 195 are widowed or elderly pensioners.

There are no bank branches in Kardana nor does it have mobile connectivity. The nearest connectivity spot is in Chiranga, about 9 km away across the hill.

Pensions in Kardana used to originally be paid in cash and later through post-office accounts. More recently, pension payments were shifted from post offices to banks. Pensioners were told to open accounts with the Union Bank of India (UBI), which has only one branch in the district, far away from Kardana, in Ambikapur.

Pension payments have also gone through many technological changes. The latest development is the introduction of biometric point-of-sale (PoS) machines, handled by bank mitras, also known as business correspondents, in places where there are no banks. The PoS machine requires connectivity and since there is none in Kardana, UBI has appointed a bank mitra in Chiranga.

The system works as follows. Pensions are paid into the recipients’ accounts. Meanwhile, the bank mitra authenticates the recipients by verifying their fingerprints against the Aadhaar database over the internet using the PoS machine and gives them a receipt. He then collects the aggregate pension amounts of the authenticated pensioners from the bank in Ambikapur and distributes them to those who have authentication receipts. 

In other words, the bank mitra acts as a proxy for the authenticated pensioners when he goes to the bank. But what if there is no connectivity when the pensioners come to Chiranga, or if the machine does not recognise someone’s fingerprints?

These hurdles have affected many villages in Chhattisgarh. Kardana pensioners, many of whom walk with great difficulty, have had to trek 9 km down the hill to Chiranga to collect their meagre pensions. Even when they manage to reach, it often happens that the PoS machine refuses to recognise their fingerprints, forcing them to walk back in vain. They live, literally, at the mercy of the PoS machine. In Kardana village alone, seven persons have stopped getting their pension since biometric authentication was introduced.

Before biometrics were introduced, cash payment of pensions through gram panchayats was replaced with post-office payments to avoid rent-seeking behaviour. The post office turned out to be short of staff for this purpose, so banks took charge. The bank mitra system, however, is also vulnerable to corruption. Many pensioners are not clear about the amount they are supposed to receive. With payments often kept pending for two or three months, they are unable to keep track, all the more so as they get flimsy receipts that become illegible within a few weeks as the ink vanishes. In the absence of any bank branch nearby, they are unable to get their passbooks updated. In this confusion, many villagers claim that the bank mitra often cheats the pensioners. The PoS machine is no protection against this sort of fraud.

Going to the bank in Ambikapur is very difficult for old people in Kardana (the nearest bus stop is in Batauli). Travelling to Ambikapur would also cost them half of their monthly pension. In any case, bank employees often refuse to print passbook entries on the pretext that ‘the machine is not working’. There again, pensioners are often victims of the tyranny of the machine!

The use of Aadhaar in welfare schemes has been a contentious issue lately. The government’s desperate attempt to link numerous facilities with Aadhaar has put many people in a difficult situation. Even if they have an Aadhaar number, correctly seeded in the relevant database, they are vulnerable to biometric failures. The locus of authority, which is supposed to lie with the people in a democracy, seems to be shifting to inanimate machines. It also emerged, in a recent discussion with government officials, that pensions are not being released for people who have failed to submit their Aadhaar number to the bank. This is not only a violation of Supreme Court orders on Aadhaar but also an infringement of the fundamental right to life inherent in Article 21 of the constitution.
Seven persons in Kardana have stopped getting their pensions due to biometric failures

NAME
FATHER/HUSBAND'S NAME
CASTE/CATEGORY
AMOUNT DUE (RS)
1
Bhinsari (f)
Bhuthal
Pahari Korwa (PVTG)
4,550
2
Kondaha (m)
Bhothi
Nagesia (ST)
4,550
3
Budhram (m)
Khora
Majhwar (ST)
2,150
4
Sukhmania (f)
Devnath
Kanwar (ST)
4,550
5
Sarojini (f)
Devnath
Kanwar (ST)
4,550
6
Suni Bai (f)
Thibal
Nagesia (ST)
4,900
7
Devnath (m) (deceased)
Jethu
Kanwar (ST)
1,750
Source: Vipul Paikra Get the data
Created with Datawrapper

Of the seven persons in Kardana who stopped getting their pension because of biometric failures, one (Devnath) died waiting for his pension. The causes of biometric failure may be many, from old people having rough hands to technical glitches with the PoS machine. But there is an injustice being done by denying the needy their pensions. Unfortunately, this is not getting enough attention in the din of the Aadhaar debate.

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