The UIDAI has taken two successive governments in India and the entire world for a ride. It identifies nothing. It is not unique. The entire UID data has never been verified and audited. The UID cannot be used for governance, financial databases or anything. It’s use is the biggest threat to national security since independence. – Anupam Saraph 2018

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 scholarUsha Ramanathandescribes 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

In the Supreme Court, Meenakshi Arora, one of the senior counsel in the case, compared it to living under a general, perpetual, nation-wide criminal warrant.

Had never thought of it that way, but living in the Aadhaar universe is like living in a prison. All of us are treated like criminals with barely any rights or recourse and gatekeepers have absolute power on you and your life.

Announcing the launch of the#BreakAadhaarChainscampaign, culminating with events in multiple cities on 12th Jan. This is the last opportunity to make your voice heard before the Supreme Court hearings start on 17th Jan 2018. In collaboration with @no2uidand@rozi_roti.

UIDAI's security seems to be founded on four time tested pillars of security idiocy

1) Denial

2) Issue fiats and point finger

3) Shoot messenger

4) Bury head in sand.

God Save India

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

13733 - If Jharkhand's Direct Benefit Transfer Experiment Isn't Working, Why Is It Still On? - The Wire

A government social audit conducted in April has found that 96.9% of people in Nagri block want to go back to the old public distribution system rather than continue with the Aadhaar-link benefit transfers.

People carrying posters against the DBT scheme during a march on February 27, 2018. Credit: Jahnavi Sen


New Delhi: Even though a Jharkhand government social audit has confirmed widespread dissatisfaction with the Aadhaar-linked direct benefit transfer (DBT) pilot experiment in the public distribution system (PDS) in Nagri block, the project continues as before.

The pilot project was rolled out in October 2017, and by early this year it was clear that it was not working for the people. Under the new system, instead of going to the local ration shop and buying rice at Re 1/kg, people first had to wait for the government to transfer Rs 31/kg they were entitled to into their account, add Re 1/kg to that, and use that money to buy rice.
On February 27, more than a thousand people marched from Nagri block to Ranchi, demanding that PDS delivery return to the old system. The Wire had reported then that the new system was creating a host of problems for the people, to the extent that they would much rather go back to the imperfect older system. To check if the money had come, they would need to make several trips to the bank. Then there were more trips to the Pragya Kendra (a local business correspondent) to withdraw the money since the transactions were too small for banks to carry out. Some people were even receiving the DBT as Airtel Money – which they had no idea how to retrieve. Several were using their own money to buy rice at Rs 32/kg, since warning notices were sent to those who did not pick up their ration, saying their cards would be cancelled. Even the ration dealers were unhappy with the new system – stocks would lie with them for days on end while people waited for their DBT money.

Around the same time, the Right to Food Campaign had conducted a survey in Nagri on the DBT experiment. They found that an overwhelming 97% of respondents wanted to go back to the old system. The food minister, Saryu Rai, and food secretary, Amitabh Kaushal, had then met with representatives from the Campaign and agreed to conduct their own social audit, based on which they would decide whether the experiment was worth continuing.

That audit was conducted in April, but the results were not immediately made public by the state government, despite repeated requests from activists. The report is now available online, on the website of the government’s Social Audit Unit.

Executive summary of the social audit report. Credit: Jharkhand Social Audit Unit website

According to the report, 8,370 ration card holders across 13 gram panchayats were surveyed for the audit – and 96.9% of them wanted to go back to the old PDS system.

“The survey on ease between pre-existing subsidised food grain distribution system and DBT has overwhelming favour to the pre-existing food grain distribution from PDS at Rs. 1 per kg. 96.9% of respondent favoured the previous system whereas only 2.4% feel that DBT is a better option.”

The report also says that in as many as 36 of Nagri block’s villages (out of 38 surveyed), the gram sabhas made it clear that they did not support the pilot project under any circumstances and did not want a DBT system. The other two gram sabhas said the DBT system would be acceptable only if it was completely reformed. The government’s results, then, align directly with those of the Right to Food Campaign.
The report also confirmed what the villagers were saying about the increased amount of time they had to spend trying to access their ration dues: on average, the respondents spent 13.1% trying to withdraw their most recent DBT instalment. In addition, while respondents had withdrawn their DBT payments an average of 3.6 times in the last six months, they had purchased rice on an average of 4.1 times – showing that they were using their own money, and so spending Rs 31/kg more than they had to, in certain months.
Only 16.8% of the audited ration card holders said they received the DBT all six times in the last six months. In addition, 13% said they hadn’t received it even once.
An officer at Jharkhand food department secretary Amitabh Kaushal’s office told The Wire that the audit report has been sent to the Central Food and Public Distribution Department, and a response is awaited. “Policies cannot be cancelled just like that,” he said. “The Centre has to take a call, we have given them the information.” When asked about what precisely the letter said, and what the state would be doing for those who had suffered under the new system, the officials said those cannot be made public.
Even before the Centre was sent the audit report, the state government told activists from the Right to Food Campaign that they wrote to Centre asking for permission to discontinue the DBT experiment on May 28. The reason they gave was that the experiment violated the National Food Security Act, 2016. That leads to a range of other questions: If the state government knew the project went against the NFSA, why did it roll it out at all? In addition, despite the large protests, why did it take eight months for the government to make this recommendation?
Jharkhand’s PDS has come under question ever since Aadhaar-based biometric authentication was made necessary (and later revoked). Activists and families have alleged that a number of recent starvation deaths are due to the problems associated with Aadhaar linkage, though the government has denied this and come up with different reasons for the deaths. The fact that the government is continuing with the DBT experiment – despite people saying that it is making everyday lives much more difficult – is yet another symptom of its apathy, activists have said. In a statement released on Thursday, the Right to Food Campaign said,

“The government’s indifference towards people’s food insecurity is also revealed by its foot-dragging in the withdrawal of the “Direct Benefit Transfer for food security” pilot in Nagri block of Ranchi. By all accounts, the results of the pilot are disastrous. However, the Food Department is yet to roll back this pilot or compensate ration cardholders who are denied their legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrain in this ill-conceived initiative.

…The Right to Food Campaign demands immediate withdrawal of the “Direct Benefit Transfer for food security” pilot. It also demands the universalisation of the PDS in rural areas and inclusion of pulses and edible oil in the PDS – a promise made by the Food Minister himself. The government should also immediately remove the mandatory requirement of Aadhaar from PDS – and all other public services – and strengthen the grievance redress system to be established under the National Food Security Act.”

When The Wire reached out to Union food secretary Ravikant for a comment, his office said he is travelling and was unavailable. His comment will be added as and when it is received.