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 9, 2017

11278 - Why Aadhaar cannot be seen as a human rights issue - Blogs-TNN

May 7, 2017, 12:10 AM IST Swapan Dasgupta in Right & Wrong | Economy, India | TOI

Just as it is rewarding to track the policies and politics of a government, it is equally instructive to monitor the movements of those opposed to it.


Since the emphatic mandate for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and the various local body elections, there have been curious developments within the circle of Narendra Modi’s opponents.

At the level of the parliamentary opposition the developments are predictable and centred on achieving maximum non-BJP unity in the election for the Rashtrapati. Simultaneously, recent weeks have witnessed two developments that find generous reflection in the social media.

First, there are the expressions of angst over BJP’s growing dominance and lament over the decline of the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and the Left.

More interesting, however, is the emergence of a quasi-libertarian Right, sharply critical of the Modi regime.

The misgivings arise over Modi’s alleged over-empowerment of the Indian state. Basing their arguments, among other things, on the instructions to doctors to prescribe generic drugs, the consumer affairs ministry’s suggestion that restaurants should specify the quantity of each item on the menu and, of course, the growing scope of Aadhaar, it is claimed that the state is becoming over-intrusive and thereby affecting the rights of individuals to choose.

The Prime Minister is being mocked for apparently reneging on his pre-election promise of ushering in ‘minimum government.’

As of now, this disquiet has found a ready platform in the seminar circuit, particularly those organised at the behest of American think-tanks which have made their presence felt in the outer circle of academia and among strategic thinkers.
However, it is only a matter of time before these arguments are slyly appropriated by an orphaned Left to press for total intellectual autonomy from ‘nationalist’ impulses and social restraints.

At a purely intellectual level, it is refreshing that the classical liberal wariness of the state is finding a platform in India. For too long, particularly under successive Congress governments, the prevailing wisdom was for a greater role of the state, not only in the management of the economy but as an instrument of social engineering.

Even now the political class seems inclined towards the public sector and favours resolute state intervention to fight social imbalances.

The Constitution too, while conceding individual rights, has been very generous in creating space for state intervention. By contrast, the benign effects of the market and faith in community wisdom — a major tenet of conservatism — have been given short shrift in favour of codification.

The recent controversies are, however, not abstract. They are a reaction to two contemporary impulses: the growing demands for state-sponsored welfare and pressures from below to make the state more efficient and responsive.

In recent times, elections are won because there is either an emotive issue, invariably centred on questions of identity or faith, or on the strength of how well or badly the state has managed its welfare and development commitments. The electorate, far from getting over the mai-baap syndrome, still looks on the sarkar as an agency of benevolent paternalism.

For pragmatic politicians, the Thatcherite dream of rolling back the frontiers of the state is electorally unsustainable. It is one thing for the state to opt out of running hotels and airlines but there is an expectation — verging on entitlement — that the state owes it to voters to run an efficient health service, provide education and build infrastructure.

The 25 years of economic reforms has not diluted expectations from the state; it has merely made the involvement of the private sector in some spheres far more acceptable. It has also fuelled expectations of efficiency.

This is the context of the Aadhaar debate. There is a legitimate demand that all biometric data should be kept confidential. But to suggest that individuals have the right to opt out of Aadhaar because the right to privacy is absolute is a libertarian pipedream.

Aadhaar is merely an instrument to ensure that state benefits reach the intended beneficiary and don’t experience the proverbial transmission losses. Its scope has now been enlarged to ensure the maximum tax compliance — a necessary step if India is to have the finances to pay for what people demand from the state. It is ironic that the right to siphon state benefits and dodge taxes is being presented as a human rights issue.
The choices are clear. Either we cease all expectations from the state or create the instruments for their efficient delivery. Either we acknowledge the collective will of society or facilitate a dysfunctional democracy.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.