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.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

11210 - We are moving to a low transaction cost digital economy: Amitabh Kant - Business Today


 Dipak Mondal   New Delhi     Last Updated: May 1, 2017  | 17:41 IST



The government has been pushing for digital payments ever since the demonetisation. However, cost of digital payments remain a major stumbling block for many people to embrace digital methods of transaction. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, who also heads a committee set up the government to push digital payments, tells Dipak Mondal the steps the government has taken to bring down the cost of digital payments.

How has cost of digital payments fallen over the years, say, in the past five years?
We are moving from a low volume, high transaction cost to high volume, low transaction cost digital economy. Cost of digital payments have fallen significantly over the years, both due to pro-active initiatives of Government and increased volume of transactions. RBI has progressively reduced the caps on MDR charges on debit cards since 2012. It was brought to 0.75 per cent for transactions upto Rs. 2000 and 1 per cent for above Rs 2000. Further, in December 2016, cap on debit card MDR charges was further reduced to 0.25 per cent for transactions upto Rs. 1000, 0.5 per cent for Rs. 1000-2000 transactions. In February 2017, a draft MDR policy with revised charges and new categories has been proposed and public comments have been sought. I am sure RBI will initiate measures to provide a massive impetus to digital payments movement.

Enlist some of the steps that the government has taken in the past couple of years to bring down the cost of digital payments/ transactions?
Apart from rationalising caps on MDR on debit card transactions, Government has launched and incentivised new modes of digital payments. Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) is operated by banking correspondents where they are given incentives for transactions. Cost of micro ATMs, biometric devices and PoS devices have reduced quite significantly due to customs and excise duty waivers announced in the budget. Government also ran a DigiDhan campaign where 16 lakh lucky winners (users and merchants) were rewarded with prizes ranging from Rs 1000 to 1 crore. Further to incentivise behaviour change and bring down the cost of digital payments, referral and cashback schemes have also been launched for BHIM where users and merchants receive cashback. Referral Scheme awards Rs 10 cashback to referrer and Rs 25 to new user on each successful referral on BHIM.
Cashback Scheme is for merchants and awards Rs 100 for 50-100 inward transactions received by the merchant on BHIM every month if he/she receives it from at least 20 different customers. On top of 100 inward transactions, the merchant is given 50 paise per additional transaction with a cap of Rs 200. So, a merchant on BHIM can earn Rs 100-300 every month through the Cashback Scheme. On April 14th this year, the Prime Minister also launched BHIM Aadhaar, the merchant interface of the BHIM App, to ensure that citizens are able to transact digitally with just their aadhaar number, even without internet, smartphone or a mobile. This radically reduces the cost of buying expensive PoS devices by the merchant and, instead, transforms his mobile phone into a PoS device. This is a major disruptive move making digital transactions easy and simple. Every smartphone owner has the possibility of becoming a walking ATM.
The govt has recently launched the BHIM App, which allows chargeless transactions. What is the cost that the government is incurring by 'subsidising' digital transaction?
Government has led the way in rationalisation of cost of digital payments. Earlier regime of digital payments was based on low volume and asset heavy infrastructure. Now since the underlying fundamentals of the sector have changed where volumes have gone up exponentially and zero-cost acceptance infrastructure (QR code) has developed, the cost regime has to change. Government has tried to instill a "work done" principle while coming up with costs of a digital transaction. As the cost of settling a transaction on UPI/BHIM is very nominal, NPCI has waived off switch charges. However, the individual's bank may or may not have IMPS charges.

You have said on many occasions that cost of digital transaction would one day be less than that of cash transaction. What is the government's roadmap to achieve this target?
Cost of a cash transaction is not apparent to us. Nonetheless, it is costly. RBI and other commercial banks spend Rs 21000 crore every year on currency management operations. On top of it, there are costs associated with fake currency and replacement of soiled and torn notes. Visa's report estimates the overall cost of cash upto 1.7% of GDP. As the digital transactions rise in volumes, its costs, mainly in terms of MDR, will come down and will eventually become cheaper than cost of printing, storing, transporting, verifying, distributing and replacing currency.

What are the major challenges in bringing down the cost of digital payments further and what could government do to cross these hurdles?
The major objective is to increase the adoption and use of digital payments in India so that cash usage drops to 5-6 per cent of GDP. Government has taken multi-pronged steps to increase digital payments - DigiDhan campaign for awareness and behaviour change, incentive schemes, cost rationalisation, wider choices of modes of digital payments and infrastructure creation through Bharat Net. Government has also understood the role of fast changing technology in financial services space and hence has allowed the sector to grow without reactive intervention. New Payment and Small Banks have adopted ICT for increased access. More than 900 new fintech startups have developed various innovative technologies such as voice and SMS based transactions which do not need internet. All these new developments with pro-active government support will bring down the cost of digital payments substantially.

Usage of big data, new financial technologies such as blockchain and distributed currency will transform the way banking services are delivered. Transformation has been visible through my experiences since the time when fishermen in Kerala used to run around banks for opening an account to now when they can open an account either online or by just using their Aadhaar and thumbprint. Such a revolutionary fast paced change led by private sector and pro-actively supported by the government presents a huge opportunity for India - to make a quantum jump forward towards a digital economy.