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.


Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

11407 - Aadhaar arguments: For and against - Live Mint

Last Modified: Sun, May 14 2017. 06 37 PM IST


Resolving data breach, privacy issues would be the constructive way forward on Aadhaar, which—if used well—will lead to a more inclusive India

R.Sukumar

Aadhaar could be the answer to various problems faced by millions of Indians who desperately want to be on the grid—not off it. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

With three cases against it now pending before a yet-to-be formed constitution bench of the Supreme Court, it is time to look at the real issues around Aadhaar (and there’s no denying the fact that there are some, especially related to privacy and security).

That would mean looking beyond smear campaigns, old and new.

There have been several, including allegations that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issued huge contracts to its then chairman Nandan Nilekani’s former company Infosys Ltd, and rumours that IndiaStack, an effort to create building blocks for a digital payments infrastructure spearheaded by volunteers and non-profits, is actually building a closed ecosystem that will benefit its own.


It would mean understanding the stop-and-go way in which the legislative framework for Aadhaar that remains incomplete has been created. For starters, it had no legislative backing as conflicting power centres in the government that sponsored it (this would be the United Progressive Alliance Mark 2) made Aadhaar another point of contention in their ongoing disagreements. Then, when a law eventually came, the government that passed it (the National Democratic Alliance) decided to take the so-called money bill route, to obviate clearance by the upper house of Parliament where it was (and is) in minority. That’s not the best way to get things done in a parliamentary democracy. And, all through, there’s not been much talk of a privacy law, although a rapidly digitizing India needs one.

As a corollary to this, it would also mean understanding what’s been happening at the apex court where several cases including one challenging the very basis for Aadhaar and another on the legality of the law being passed as a money bill are pending. There have been some interim orders as well. The two important points to note are that the government hasn’t ever said that Aadhaar is mandatory in the court. And the court has repeatedly stressed that Aadhaar can’t be mandatory. Yes, I know, that’s messy and I believe the government hasn’t really played its cards well in court.

Then, it would mean seeing things for what they really are. For instance, the frenzy over “Aadhaar leaks” is really about the ineptness of government departments that have displayed the numbers. The rules prohibit this, but the ineptness has given rise to arguments that the government can’t be trusted with data (although, to be fair, none of the biometric data in the Aadhaar database itself has been leaked). There’s also been some misuse by point-of-transaction authenticators which is, again, prohibited by the law.

And finally, it would mean trusting the state, knowing that there is legal recourse available (backed by privacy and data protection laws) in case that trust is broken. The most unfortunate development in recent times has been the reduction of even complex issues into simplistic pro- and anti-Modi arguments. Unfortunately for Aadhaar, its biggest advantage (Prime Minister Narendra Modi adopting an idea from a previous government because he saw merit in it) is also its biggest disadvantage.

So, what are the real issues?

The security of the Aadhaar database is one. Huge reports are being written on how the database isn’t secure. Is it safe, or isn’t it?

The reliability of the Aadhaar database is another. There have been instances of errors in authentication. Such errors could make Aadhaar exclusionary and it is important the government’s larger welfare regime have ways to deal with such instances. Hint: throwing statistics isn’t a desired resolution mechanism.

The lack of a privacy law is a third.

Finally, there’s the larger (and philosophical) debate on whether India and Indians need one number to bind them all, the potential for misuse, and the checks and balances available to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Addressing these issues would be the constructive way forward. If used well (and widely), Aadhaar could simplify life and transactions, and also ensure that the government’s welfare schemes are better-targeted and more efficient. It could be the answer to various problems faced by hundreds of millions of Indians who desperately want to be on the grid—not off it.