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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Sunday, August 6, 2017

11724 - Aadhaar has Wrecked Welfare, Then Why is NDA Claiming the Opposite? - news Click


Hearings in the Supreme Court to decide if Indians have a fundamental right to privacy ended on August 2. 
Newsclick Report 05 Aug 2017

Hearings in the Supreme Court to decide if Indians have a fundamental right to privacy ended on August 2.

The judgement is expected by August 28, as that’s when the term of Chief Justice of India JS Khehar — who’s heading the 9-judge Constitutional Bench deliberating the question — ends.
The apex court’s decision — whether privacy is indeed a Constitutionally protected fundamental right or a common law right (which, according to experts,can be taken away by any enacted law) — will have far-reaching consequences for the civil liberties of Indian citizens.

It will also bring to climax a roughly 9-year-old fight, inside and outside court, between a heterogeneous group of activists and the state — irrespective of the ruling governments in that time — over the project of Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometrics-linked Unique Identification (UID) number to be issued to all residents.

If the 9-judge bench rules that privacy is a fundamental right, a five-judge bench will decide whether Aadhaar violates such a right. There are at least 20 petitions in the Supreme Court challenging Aadhaar on various grounds, including it being made mandatory for provision of essential state services for citizens—despite SC orders that it cannot be made mandatory except for six schemes.

The brainchild of tech billionaire Nandan Nilekani, the UID project has been dubbed variously as “the world's largest mass surveillance project ”, “the biggest social project on the planet ”, and the like.

It has also been pushed along, mostly illegally, by the state since 2009 — the UPA and the current NDA, of course, setting precedents for much in the country.

Why did first-world countries that took up similar projects abandon them?

The United Kingdom, for example, had a biometrics-linked National Identity Card project to create a centralised register of sensitive information about residents similar to Aadhaar, which was scrapped in 2010.

The reasons were the massive threat posed to the privacy of people, the possibility of a surveillance state, the dangers of maintaining such a huge centralised repository of sensitive information, and the purposes it could be used for,  and the dangers of such a centralised database being hacked. The other reasons were the unreliability of suh a large-scale biometric verification processes, and the ethics of using biometric identification.

In India, the government has resorted to all kinds of arguments and claims to make the case against the Constitutional guarantee of privacy, and to knock down the last obstacle against Aadhaar.

The government has called privacy an “elite” concept, pitched the Right to Privacy against Right to Food that they claim can be fully realised only through Aadhaar, and even made the claim that it is “impossible” to track citizens using Aadhaar.

Whose interests will the UID database serve? The poorest of the poor, claims the government. Not so, says the opponents. It is a surveillance measure in the guise of welfare.

Hurting welfare
The premise on which the Congress-led UPA (then opposed by the BJP) and now the BJP-heavy NDA have pushed the UID project is welfare — as the instrument to ensure smooth, efficient, ‘targeted’ implementation of the Public Distribution System (PDS) as well as all other social welfare schemes in the country.

The state has maintained that Aadhaar will eliminate corruption and “leakages” in delivery of benefits, weed out “ghost” beneficiaries by way of de-duplication of identity, resulting in huge savings for the government exchequer, and of course, end poverty. 

Now, the importance of ‘identification’ cannot be overstated for ensuring that benefits reach those they are meant for, especially in a country like India. A substantial part of the population has an unrecognised, informal existence and subsistence—many without a single official documentation of their identity, which bars them from accessing government benefits. The UPA used this argument as basis for Aadhaar,  but was opposed by the BJP, worried primarily over illegal immigrants  being given a UID number as well.  

But with the NDA now, the focus seems to have shifted to fighting “ghost” beneficiaries and saving big money .

In the Supreme Court, the Attorney General KK Venugopal, returned to the inclusion argument, and said that Aadhaar was essential for the Right to Food, claiming that “Aadhaar has ensured that food reached 270 million persons who live below the poverty line through social welfare schemes.” He then went on to argue that the Right to Privacy for a small elite group of people could not override the Right to Food, which is part of the Right to Life.

This drew a vehement response from the Right to Food Campaign , which issued a statement highlighting the massive exclusions that have taken place by linking Aadhaar to everything from PDS, pensions, mid-day meals, MGNREGA wages, and nearly all other social welfare schemes and benefits.

The campaign said, “According to data put out by state food departments, in Rajasthan 33 lakh families are unable to access their Public Distribution System (PDS) ration entitlement each month due to the linkage of the PDS with Aadhaar. Similarly in Jharkhand, 2.5 lakh families are deprived of their grain entitlements on a monthly basis.

In June 2017, in Ranchi District, only 67% were able to buy their grain through Aadhaar-Based Biometric Authentication.”
Speaking to Newsclick, Dipa Sinha of the Right to Food Campaign said, “Aadhaar has created problems for beneficiaries at all stages, from failure in biometric enrolment to the monthly verifications. The most common reasons are finger prints not matching, poor internet connectivity that is required for Point of Sale machines to work and verify, etc.”

“The UIDAI admits an error rate of around 5%. Even that is a very large number in terms of everyday transactions. But we have found an error rate of 25-30%. Now imagine how large a number that is of people being denied their basic entitlements like food, pension, wages, etc. And these are the most vulnerable sections of society, the poor, the old, the daily wage workers, the impoverished disabled, among others,” she said.
Over the past few years, there have been numerous studies and reports of the devastation that Aadhaar linkage has caused to the welfare schemes, including by civil society group Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and economist Jean Dreze .

Dreze has also refuted the claims of Aadhaar exposing “ghost” beneficiaries getting mid-day meals, for instance.

Economist Reetika Khera told Newsclick, “The government tried to tell the Supreme Court that the right thing life is above the right to privacy and that Aadhaar was essential for the realisation of the right to life. This is so far from the truth. The application of Aadhaar in the PDS, NREGA, pensions, etc has in fact endangered the right to life of lakhs of people by denying them their right to food and work.”  

# Percentage calculated based on number of beneficiaries as on 04/06/2017: 99,77,909

The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) analysed the Rajasthan state food department data for monthly Point of Sale (PoS) machine transactions for wheat in all 33 districts.


In Rajasthan, Aadhaar was made mandatory for getting supplies from PDS from September 2016. The pilot linking of Aadhaar to PDS was started in January 2016.