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, July 14, 2017

11601 - Aadhaar: My body, my rights

Thursday, May 11, 2017


The bad news is, it’s not just about the Aadhaar-PAN linkage.
(Published on May 6, 2017 in Business Standard)

‘Dear Govt.. Can i have my left hand back please.. Need to scratch my head.’ (sic)

This one tweet beautifully mocked two arguments made in the Supreme Court by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi. The AG said that a) citizens do not have an absolute right over their bodies, and therefore can be compelled to give their fingerprints and iris scans to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI); and and b) that you “cannot import conceptions of privacy” into India, because, he said, on a train in this country, people will tell you their life stories within five minutes.

The facileness of these statements is breathtaking, even from a government as super-nosy as this one.

A vigorous anti-Aadhaar campaign is being conducted by people driven by precisely those two ideas: Bodily integrity, and privacy. They represent a very large number of Indians who value their bodily integrity and autonomy, and privacy, very much indeed. We value it because we’re free adults—a fact that escapes the tiny-minded officials who constantly censor our books and movies, and tell us, among other things, whom to love and where, and what to eat and why.

The case in the Supreme Court will determine whether or not taxpayers must mandatorily link their Aadhaar numbers with their PAN cards in order to pay their taxes. Petitioners challenging the government’s order say it can’t be made mandatory since Aadhaar is a purely voluntary system, targeting subsidy beneficiaries. The arguments have been rivetingly live-tweeted for days. The Centre refused to allow arguments based on the idea of privacy, since the court is separately deciding whether Indians have a fundamental right to privacy. The petitioners therefore argued for informational self-determination and bodily integrity, saying that you cannot extend the doctrine of Eminent Domain to the body, nor coerce people into parting with their most personal, irreplaceable, unchangeable data.

The Aadhaar-PAN linkage is a matter of tax law. On most days I would rather stab myself repeatedly in the heart than think about tax law. But I am riveted, because it scares me to to death that we have to argue tax law in terms of our fundamental constitutional and bodily rights, and that we’ve gotten to this point so awfully fast. The question of linking Aadhaar with PAN numbers is only the tip of a very large conceptual iceberg. As the petitioners’ advocate Shyam Divan put it, “If we fail here, the impact it could have on civil liberties in the country could be huge.”

The impunity of the government, and its assumptions, are staggering. How dare a democratically-elected government treat its citizens with such contempt that it can argue that they have no right to privacy? How dare it treat its citizens’ bodies as commodities that can be sold to private companies? How dare it perpetrate such a colossal bait-and-switch, advertising a purely voluntary subsidy targeting mechanism, and delivering something that coerces people into letting it into all parts of their lives—and sneaking these coercive laws in on the back of the Finance Bill? How dare it brand honest critics of Aadhaar as anti-nationals with something to hide, even as it draws shrouds of opacity over political funding, and renders the Right to Information toothless?

It is my view, and that of many other Indians, that the central government is systematically eroding constitutional liberties and working to institutionalise the dreary, joyless, regimented, unequal societal order beloved of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. It is my view that everything it says and does springs from the assumptions of majoritarianism, and that it does not understand or like individual rights. It is my view that it has an uneasy relationship with choice and freedom, preferring structure and predictability. It is my view that it has an intrusive, micromanaging attitude that treats citizens like sheep to be supervised, herded, and monetised. 

But even if you take a less sinister view of things—the best view, in fact—the way that Aadhaar is being shoved into all the nooks and crannies of a citizen’s life suggests, as the petitioners’ advocate Arvind Datar put it, that the whole project “is like building a bridge and then looking for a river. It is hunting for problems to make itself relevant.”

Choice and consent are at the heart of self-determination and dignity. Many Indians recognising the coercive nature of Aadhaar are waking up to the full import, meaning, and emergent need of that famous feminist and human rights cry: My body, my rights. (Better late than never.) The government wants to remove choice and consent in the matter of the Aadhaar-PAN link. It may sound like a silly detail, but it will set the tone for many of our civil liberties.


They are currently in the hands of the court.