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.


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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

11493 - Ispirt Shuts Down Controversial Aadhaar Critics Trolling Programme Sudham

Key iSPIRT Members Parting Ways?


Indian software products think tank iSPIRT has disclosed that ‘Sudham’ – the alleged programme sanctioned by the organisation to troll anti-Aadhaar activists has been dissolved.

iSPIRT founder Sharad Sharma disclosed the development in an official statement.

Also, in the aftermath of this controversy, key iSPIRT members are said to be distancing themselves from the organisation.

Ispirt Shutting Down Sudham
The decision to shut down Sudham was revealed in an official statement by Sharad Sharma titled: “The End Doesn’t Justify The Means: A Public Statement.” In the post, Sharad stated that iSPIRT had created an iSPIRT Guidelines and Compliance Committee (IGCC) to investigate the controversy. As a result, Sudham has been dissolved and Sharad will not be responsible for iSPIRT’s external communications for the next four months, as a consequence of the “transgression.

He stated, “And, on that count, I as one of the builders have stumbled. I condoned uncivil behaviour by some anonymous handles over a period of ten days. I have owned up to this transgression. It was investigated internally by the iSPIRT Governing Council: Sudham as a team stands dissolved and I will no longer be communicating on behalf of iSPIRT externally for 4 months.”

Talking about the events that took place Sharad added, “Having danced with such tactics myself for ten days in May, I can say with certainty that it is conduct unbecoming of our prior actions and accomplishments. Put simply, I have learnt my lesson. One that should have been painfully clear to begin with. Such behaviour — uncivil comments made while hiding behind anonymity — is loathsome and abhorrent. And I will never engage in or condone such methods ever again.”

Sharad’s statement comes a week after he publicly apologised for iSPIRT anonymously trolling those voicing concerns over privacy and security standards in Aadhaar. The trolling programme was brought to light by Kiran Jonnalagadda, Aadhaar’s most vocal critic and co-founder of Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), an advocacy group. Kiran revealed in a series of tweets that @Confident_India, one of the anonymous accounts arguing in favour of Aadhaar and attacking its critics on Twitter, was being operated by none other than Sharad Sharma. He also revealed in detail about the programme in a series of Medium posts that Sharma and other iSPIRT members were behind the anonymous trolls.

In response to Kiran’s post and criticism from all quarters, iSPIRT’s Governing Council put together a Guidelines and Compliance Committee, which conducted an investigation that concluded on 28 May, 2017. Sharad’s post is a reflection on the same, though the IGCC itself has not issued a public statement.

Kiran pointed this out in yet another Medium post where he states that, “Following my posts and much media coverage, iSPIRT’s Governing Council put together a Guidelines and Compliance Committee (IGCC), which conducted an investigation that concluded on 28 May, 2017. We do not have a public statement from IGCC, but instead—curiously enough—have a public statement from Sharad Sharma himself, summarising the decisions of the committee that investigated him.”
In the post, Kiran stated, “As a primary victim of Sharad’s trolling, and as someone who deposed before the IGCC, I have yet to hear back from them officially.”

He further added that, “I’m pained to point out that Sharad continues to not admit to being the person behind at least two troll accounts, instead merely admitting to ‘condoning’ the behaviour of unnamed persons.”

Kiran clearly expressed his disappointment with the statement when he said that, “I’m aware that Sharad wasn’t operating alone. Others were involved and, so far, no one has come forward to be identified as the operator of a troll account, not even Sharad himself.”

Key Ispirt Members Parting Ways?
Meanwhile, the trolling programme, which has cast a negative light on iSPIRT, that started as an organisation to promote software products, seems to have taken a toll on the organisation itself. As per a TOI report, a few higher ups, including InMobi co-founder Naveen Tewari and FusionCharts founder Pallav Nadhani are distancing themselves from the organisation, as of now.

In an emailed response to Inc42, Pallav stated, “I will be working with iSPIRT from the sidelines, not as a part of it, at least for some time. The cause is larger than any of us and important for the country. As of now, I have expressed my intent to move on, but I do hope that iSPIRT will emerge way stronger and continue contributing to Indian ecosystem. There are over 200 passionate volunteers behind the cause. “
For an organisation that holds an important place in the Indian startup ecosystem as far as promoting software is concerned, in the aftermath of this controversy, it seems like the right time for it to refocus on its primary objective and owning up to its gaffes.

Because, as Sharad aptly writes, “There will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right. It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore.”

The Aadhaar critics trolling programme may not have been the finest hour of the forward-thinking organisation, but it has become an important part of the larger social conversation. Here is hoping that iSPIRT chooses the right kinds of path, going forward.


Note: We at Inc42 take our ethics very seriously. More information about it can be found here.