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

11166 - SAVING THE RURAL JOB SCHEME FROM DEATH - Daily Pioneer

Thursday, 27 April 2017 | Uttam Gupta | in Oped

Modi has pressed all the right buttons to ensure that MGNREGS becomes an instrument of promoting his Government’s inclusive development agenda

In a stunning revelation, Amarjeet Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), revealed that the Government had cancelled nearly 10 million fake ‘job cards' under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Including the fake beneficiaries struck off from the scheme earlier, the total number of such cards cancelled thus far is more than 31 million.

Under MGNREGA — a flagship welfare scheme launched by erstwhile UPA dispensation in 2005 — ‘guaranteed' employment is provided to a member of a poor family in rural areas for a minimum of 100 days in a year and wage paid at the rate of Rs100 per day. For this purpose, one job card is given to each family. A card holder is expected to work on projects such as irrigation, road construction, building houses, digging tube wells, constructing toilets etc. The scheme is one of the world's biggest job guarantee programmes.

In the initial years, an audit of the scheme had revealed large-scale irregularities in several States — money not reaching intended beneficiaries, fictitious payments/issue of job cards in non-existent names, and the same person holding multiple cards etc. Immediately on taking charge, the Modi Government directed the ministry to conduct a rigorous scrutiny. The ministry initiated an exercise to clean up the system and ensure transparency and accountability in its implementation. It conducted a house-to-house survey to check authenticity of workers by focusing on factors such as Aadhaar numbers, photographs of beneficiaries, details of payments, migration and death of job-seekers etc. The identification and cancellation of fake cards is an outcome of this process.

The revelations vindicate the charge made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi while replying to a debate on the President's address in 2014, when he described the scheme as an epitome of corruption. The number of bogus beneficiaries is about 15 per cent of active households engaged. During 2016-17, the total expenditure under MGNREGA was over Rs58,000 crore. The funds siphoned off would be about Rs9,000 crore. 
   
Since 2005, an aggregate of about Rs400,000 crore has been spent till 2016. Even taking a most conservative estimate of leakage, the money misappropriated by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats would add up to Rs60,000 crore.

Apart from leakage, even where money was paid to genuine persons, the scheme did not create productive assets. In fact, its very architecture militated against the productive deployment of funds. Thus, even if the Government has no project at hand, a person holding a job card still has to be paid (this is a constitutional obligation). This creates an inherent incentive for the card-holder to not work. Even the political establishment of the day, which put a premium on nepotism and corruption, had no interest in undertaking projects. The bias against asset-creation is also reinforced by the fact that under the UPA regime, wage to materials ratio was 60:40. This meant that out of Rs100 allocation, the administration could spend Rs60 on wages and Rs40 on materials. In actual implementation, the wage component was even higher at 75 per cent in several States.

The present Government sustained the scheme but vowed to get rid of these maladies. To prevent misuse, it has shifted to an electronic muster roll of beneficiaries (as against manual records under the previous dispensation) and latched on to an Aadhaar-based payment system to ensure that money is transferred to genuine beneficiaries only and in full. It has also alluded to updating the muster roll by conducting surveys regularly. The idea is to keep the scheme free from bogus elements for all time. 

The process was carried forward in subsequent budgets. To achieve the desired results, it altered the wage to material ratio to 51:49. In other words, out of Rs100 allocation, Rs51 are to be spent on wages and Rs49 on materials.

In short, Modi has pressed all the right buttons to ensure that the scheme becomes an instrument of promoting its inclusive development agenda. However, he must continue to harp on States to come up with concrete projects on ground for gainful employment of rural poor and avoid turning in to a pit of wasteful expenditure. 


(The writer is a public policy analyst)