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

Friday, June 16, 2017

11523 - The real beneficiary - Reetika Khera-Indian Express


  • The real beneficiary
Aadhaar doesn’t empower people, only the state
Written by Reetika Khera | Published:June 2, 2017 2:15 am

Why are governments resorting to such desperate measures to defend Aadhaar? Primarily because during UPA 2, they over-sold the benefits of Aadhaar

Peddling long-debunked assertions on savings as facts without any proof is an old UIDAI strategy. Pandey’s strongest claim, “an independent study by the World Bank”, reportedly estimates that “Aadhaar can potentially save Rs 72,000 crore every year by plugging leakages.” Actually, the study only states that “the value of these transfers is estimated to be Rs 70,000 crores ($11.3 billion) per annum”. There is no estimate of potential savings. Ironically, in the week that the UIDAI revealed its draconian face, serving a legal notice to those who exposed flaws in the Aadhaar eco-system, Ajay Pandey (CEO, UIDAI), wrote, “The critics tend to forget that Aadhaar empowers the people, not the state” (‘Criticisms Without Aadhaar’, IE, May 13). However, government data reveals that Pandey is wrong to believe that “Aadhaar empowers the people”.

Pandey claims that Aadhaar has “cleansed delivery databases of fakes, duplicates and con men/intermediaries”. Job cards and ration cards cancelled in the course of routine updation (or “cleansing”) drives are attributed to Aadhaar. In fact, in many cases, the cancellation pre-dates integration with Aadhaar. For instance, the 20 lakh cards deleted in 2014-15 in West Bengal are credited to Aadhaar-integration though only 15,000 cards were Aadhaar-seeded on March 2015.

The case of LPG subsidies is well-documented. In July 2015, Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian wrote in The New York Times that cash transfers resulted in “estimated savings of about $2 billion”. Yet, Cabinet Secretariat minutes from November 2015 report only Rs 91 crore savings due to Aadhaar. Later, the CEA himself clarified that it was potential (not actual) savings he had in mind, but the government still uses the earlier figures. The government’s claim on deleted ration cards is also interesting. Out of 1.2 crore deleted cards, 62 lakh were from West Bengal. Here’s the catch: All states (except West Bengal) report the number of cards in terms of families; West Bengal reports individuals. The ministry ignores the difference in units, adds them up, thus inflating the numbers.

Why are governments resorting to such desperate measures to defend Aadhaar? Primarily because during UPA 2, they over-sold the benefits of Aadhaar. For instance, Aadhaar cannot reduce quantity fraud. When a PDS dealer undersells, whether I am forced to put my thumbprint in a paper register or a POS machine makes no difference to quantity fraud.

Aadhaar cannot enhance inclusion. Possession of Aadhaar alone cannot guarantee benefits (say, pensions or scholarships), one still has to meet the eligibility criteria of those programmes. Exclusion from welfare was rarely due to the lack of ID documents (in a response to an RTI query, 99.97 per cent of those who enrolled in Aadhaar did it on the basis of existing ID documents). What Aadhaar can fix is identity fraud — for example, if I illegally get two ration cards or duplicates. But then, Aadhaar is one among several ways of de-duplication, and not the most efficient either — smart cards, or even painting the full list of beneficiaries on panchayat walls works well to identify ghosts and duplicates!

The key question with respect to identity fraud (and the Aadhaar project) is what Senior Advocate Arvind Datar asked the government in court (during the PAN-Aadhaar linkage case), “Did you do any study?” The fact is there is no reliable evidence on the scale of identity fraud in welfare programmes.

 We are told that people are getting their benefits “directly from the government without middlemen usurping them” due to Aadhaar. 

Three clarifications are in order: 

One, benefits under some of the schemes he lists have been credited into bank accounts for years, so middlemen were absent from the payment process to start with. For example, payment of MGNREGA wages into bank and post office accounts became mandatory in 2009. 

Two, where middlemen existed (pensions delivered by a postman who demanded money), one type of middleman has been replaced by another (banking correspondents have taken the place of postmen). 

Three, the Aadhaar eco-system is breeding an army of middlemen (enrolment, re-enrolment of biometrics, Aadhaar-seeding, correcting demographic details, etc).

Meanwhile, Aadhaar is also disempowering people. For example, names are being struck off pension lists without people’s knowledge (say, for not submitting their Aadhaar number) or MGNREGA wages get “lost” in the electronic payment system. 

In Rajasthan, more than 10 per cent of PDS beneficiaries are unable to get their ration after Aadhaar-based Biometric Authentication (ABBA) was introduced. Monthly authentication of any one member is pointless: If someone dies, I can continue to claim their ration. At the very least, the government should move to annual authentication of all members, put people out of their monthly misery. 

Since 2009, we were lulled into believing that privacy is the price we pay for better welfare programmes. In 2009, the present National Security Advisor A.K. Doval rightly said: “Now, it is being projected as more development-oriented, lest it ruffle any feathers. People would be unwilling to give up their right to privacy.” Welfare, efficiency, transparency, empowerment, etc., was the sugar-coating.


The writer is an associate professor, Economics, at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi