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.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

11561 - Dear designers and implementers of UID... - Deccan herald

Nikhil Dey and Aruna Roy Jun 25 2017, 0:52 IST

We write this letter to you as a question, a comment, a complaint, and finally an appeal. 

We do want to clarify at the outset that we have had many intellectual and theoretical problems with the UID (Unique Identification) related to surveillance, privacy and how it actually has the potential to turn the Right to Information (RTI) on its head. Nevertheless, we have since its inception carefully watched Aadhaar or the UID as per its primary stated objective (even in the legislation) to benefit the poor. You promised that there would be at least three big advantages that would accrue from the roll out of this “game-changing” platform. 

First, we were told, that it would foster and ensure inclusion at all levels. It is now becoming clear, that Aadhaar is actually just an authentication mechanism using biometric technology threaded through a vast, centralised, data gathering platform. It has provided citizens with no unique benefit, except (potentially dangerously) being used as an ID/KYC card. 

Since Aadhaar has been made absolutely mandatory for drawing benefits under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) in Rajasthan over the last year, we confine ourselves to use the detailed evidence that exists of the devastating consequences of its imposition in rations leading to mass anguish and distress. 

In a recent meeting with officials from the Department of Food and IT officials in Rajasthan, certain statistics from the Rajasthan Government website were discussed and confirmed- Out of approximately 1 crore NFSA beneficiary families, nearly 30 lakh families i.e. approximately 30% of intended beneficiaries, were not drawing their monthly rations over the last 10 months. These were families with Aadhaar numbers, so you will agree that they could not be "bogus".

It also makes no sense for these families to willingly forego wheat at Rs 2 per kg when the market price is ten times that amount. The statistic of 30% masked the old and the physically challenged who could not reach the ration shop to place their fingerprints on the machine and those who migrated in search of work, for a season, or even a whole year. The most vulnerable, who should be our highest priority, are being excluded by design. Should the designers not have made sure this situation did not continue for the last 10 months and beyond? Other reasons offered to explain the exclusion are poor performance of the machine, the network, biometric mismatch and even the dealer's poor performance. 

The government has not invested any effort to match the breakdown of numbers with reasons. Instead, it made inflated claims on equating denial with savings and thereby ending corruption. Would you not agree that to classify exclusion as a saving is unethical and cruel? And this continues despite an unequivocal Rajasthan High Court order of May 30 that Aadhaar can’t be the basis for denial of rations. But ignoring Supreme Court and high court orders is a nurtured pattern in the UID paradigm. 

Second, we were told that Aadhaar would be an almost foolproof method to de-duplicate and therefore eliminate corruption. Duplication is not the biggest source of corruption in welfare. There are other citizen-based methods to de-duplicate. But, you never had an answer to the many other forms of corruption it leaves untouched. And we now know that in fact, it fosters some new forms of corruption! Out of the 70% of rations the dealer is distributing, he is making his cut in numerous ways. 

He almost never provides a receipt. He authenticates for everything and gives only kerosene. He authenticates for several months and gives only for one month. He overcharges, overbooks, manipulates seeding and in the cruellest joke on your system, tells the beneficiary that her biometric has failed, even when he gets a positive authentication. The challenge for the anti-corruption RTI user is that the paper trail has been replaced by digital databases, sometimes secret, run by a system that does not have the inclination to act on complaints. The officials often say that biometric authentication means proof of no corruption!

Third, we were told that this delivery highway would greatly increase efficiency. It would allow administrators to see what was going on where and immediately respond at the minutest level. That leads us to ask why not one FIR has been registered for perpetuating the massive corruption that you apparently eliminated. All of you repeatedly assured us from the senior most levels to those implementing that pilots would be watched very carefully to learn and correct, and you assured us that Aadhaar would become widely used, not from compulsion but from popular demand. 

So we address this to all of you who have brought us till here - the celebrated architects, the political leadership pursuing this with an unprecedented zeal, our very competent technocratic friends, researchers who have been singing praises of Aadhaar and administrators at every level. We are baffled about how this can continue. The poor, the excluded, the anaemic and the hungry have questions that relate to their life, and death. So many of those who have passed away over these last 10 months and were not able to access their food grain or pension entitlement have pleas that went unanswered. Can you please answer these questions and tell us who will be held responsible? 

This calls for an “evidence-based” point by point public discussion. We hope that in the course of the debate if you accept that injustice has been done, you will help correct it. 

Before we proceed further, citizens across India deserve a chance to better understand what the implications of using Aadhaar could be.

In anticipation..


(The writers are social activists who live and work in rural Rajasthan)