Zakia Jafri gets copy of Gujarat riots case report


NDTV Correspondent and Agencies | Updated: May 07, 2012

Ahmedabad A Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was appointed by the Supreme Court, has handed over the copy of its closure report to the main complainant Zakia Jafri . An Ahmedabad court had directed the team to provide copy of the report to Ms Jafri.

The court in Ahmedabad noted last month that the SIT’s final report in the 2002 Gujarat-riots-related Gulberg Society massacre case has found no evidence against any of the 62 accused; that list includes Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The court had observed that since the SIT has filed a closure report, Ms Jafri, the main complainant, in keeping with Supreme Court orders, must be given the report and supporting documents filed by the SIT before May 10.

Ms Jafri’s case relates to the killing by a riotous mob of 69 people, among them her husband and former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri, on February 28, 2002 at the Gulberg Housing Society in Ahmedabad where the Jafris lived. Ms Jafri has alleged that Mr Modi and several senior ministers and officials did nothing to prevent the killings. She had claimed that when the mob attacked the housing complex, her husband made frantic calls to the police and even to the Chief Minister’s office, for help but to no avail. For many years now, Ms Jafri has taken her legal battle against the Chief Minister and others from court to court

Growing Mistrust of India’s Biometric ID Scheme


 

MAY 4, 2012 | BY REBECCA BOWE,
In India, a massive effort is underway to collect biometric identity information for each of the country’s 1.2 billion people. The incredible plan, dubbed the “mother of all e-governance projects” by the Economic Times, has stirred controversy in India and beyond, raising serious concerns about the privacy and security of individuals’ personal data.

The plan is moving ahead at a clip under the auspices of the National Population Register (NPR) and the Unique ID (UID) programs, separately governed initiatives that have an agreement to integrate the data they collect to build the world’s largest biometric database. Upon enrollment, individuals are issued 12-digit unique ID numbers on chip-based identity cards. For residents who lack the necessary paperwork to obtain certain kinds of employment or government services, there’s strong incentive to get a unique ID. While the UID program is voluntary, enrollment in the NPR program is mandatory for all citizens.

The NPR program’s stated objectives are to streamline the delivery of government services such as welfare or subsidies, prevent identity fraud, and facilitate economic development, but some critics contend that the plan has its roots in an agenda focused on national security. Indian journalist Aman Sethi argues in a New York Times Op-Ed that the NPR originated with a 1992 government campaign to deport undocumented Bangladeshi immigrants, and that the creation of a comprehensive identity database was intended “exclusively to assist law enforcement.” And while UID was originally created to target India’s poorest 200 million citizens to facilitate service delivery, it has since been expanded to cover the country’s entire population.

The UID program is administered by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), an executive body created to oversee the issuance of unique ID numbers for the stated purpose of facilitating access to benefits and services. At the helm of UID is Nandan Nilekani, a billionaire who made his fortune in the tech industry before ascending to his current role as chairman of the UIDAI.

While the NPR program has been moving ahead since 2004 with a relatively low level of public opposition, the more recently introduced UID project has sparked controversy. UID took center stage during a political feud last December when Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance rejected a bill establishing the National Identification Authority of India, which would have granted the UID program statutory mandate. Although the bill was submitted in 2010, the UIDAI had already begun processing individuals and issuing numbers pending Parliamentary approval of the legislation, operating under the authority of the executive branch. The committee rejected the reasoning that they had the authority to do so, calling the program’s legality into question.

In late January, a compromise deal was struck between the NPR and the UID program administrators following a political turf war, when officials announced “the NPR and UID projects would proceed side by side to ensure that all Indian citizens have a unique number by June 2013.” Project administrators from UIDAI and India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, which oversees the Indian Census and the NPR program, announced that they would collaborate to de-duplicate the data to eliminate overlap for integration purposes.

Collecting Biometric Data

To date, some 170 million individuals have been registered in the UID program. To perform the data collection, the UIDAI has executed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with partners — including states, union territories and 25 financial institutions — to act as registrars for implementing the scheme, according to a Parliamentary committee report.

The registrars, in turn, contract with tech firms such as Wipro, a company that has issued at least 6 million UID numbers in Maharashtra. Agents gather the data by going from village to village to set up processing camps, toting laptops and scanning equipment along with them and scrambling to process as many individuals as possible each day. In addition to demographic information, individuals’ biometric information is collected with iris scanners, fingerprint scanners, and face cameras that employ facial recognition technology. Morpho, a technology company, is a primary UID contractor that develops and maintains systems to crosscheck new applications by sifting through the biometrics database and prevent actual or fraudulent duplication.

The UID program is known as Aadhar, which also refers to the unique 12-digit number citizens are issued upon enrollment. According to recent news reports, a pilot program will link Aadhar with financial and banking services in 50 districts in a move that the UIDAI program director says will “change the financial landscape of the country.”

Nilekani has championed the UID program as a tool that can aid low-income sectors of India’s population by streamlining the delivery of public services and creating a system that is more inclusive to the poor. Yet R. Ramakumar of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai pushes back against this point in an op-ed in The Hindu, charging, “the UID would be an alibi for the state to leave the citizen unmarked in the market for social services.”

And if the interviews with Delhi’s poorest residents in this report is any indication, there’s also a danger that some marginalized individuals could slip through the cracks altogether.

An issue of greater concern, however, is that the biometric database could open the door to significant violations of personal privacy. The Aadhar system became mired in controversy last December surrounding the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance’s rejection of legislation that would have given it statutory mandate. In a report, lawmakers based their disapproval on concerns about security, data theft and the fact that that a national data protection law has yet to be enacted.

“The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information of individuals without statutory amendment appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation,” committee members wrote.

They also seized on the risk, uncertainty, and potential for privacy violations that would be ushered in under the massive scheme:

“Considering the huge database size and possibility of misuse of information, enactment of a national data protection law, which is at a draft stage, is a prerequisite for any law that deals with large scale collection of information from individuals and its linkages across separate database…The committee is afraid that the scheme may wind up being dependent on private agencies…”

Despite these concerns, the UID program continues, while at the same time, biometric data collection for the NPR moves ahead on a separate track. Mandatory registration for all citizens in the NPR went into effect with the 2004 amendment of the Citizenship Act, providing that“the Central Government may compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue National Identity Card[s].”

Civil Society Responds

The Center for Internet and Society (CIS) has criticized the system due to design flaws that pose security and privacy concerns.

“We don’t need Aadhar because we already have a much more robust identity management and authentication system based on digital signatures that has a proven track record of working at a ‘billions-of-users scale on the Internet with reasonable security,” CIS Director Sunil Abraham noted in a Business Standard op-ed. “The UID project based on the so-called ‘infallibility of biometrics’ is deeply flawed in design. These design disasters waiting to happen cannot be permanently thwarted by band-aid policies.

“Biometrics are poor authentication factors because once they are compromised they cannot be re-secured unlike digital signatures. Additionally, an individual’s biometrics can be harvested remotely without his or her conscious cooperation. The iris can be captured remotely without a person’s knowledge using a high-res digital camera.” (For more detailed information on CIS’s work on India’s UID program, see hereherehereherehere, and here.

Delhi-based NGOs have also condemned UID as an affront to civil liberties that violates citizens’ basic constitutional right to privacy.

In his Op-Ed, Ramakumar echoes Indian economist Amartya Sen in arguing that the system could open the door to abuse by law enforcement:

“There is a related concern: police and security forces, if allowed access to the biometric database, could extensively use it for regular surveillance and investigative purposes, leading to a number of human rights violations. As Amartya Sen has argued elsewhere, forced disclosure and loss of privacy always entailed ‘the social costs of the associated programs of investigation and policing.’ According to him, ‘some of these investigations can be particularly nasty, treating each applicant as a potential criminal.’”

Meanwhile, famed activist Arundhati Roy voiced scathing criticism against India’s biometric collection scheme, saying, “The UID is a corporate scam which funnels billions of dollars into the IT sector. To me, it is one of the most serious transgressions that is on the cards. It is nothing more than an administrative tool in the hands of a police state.”

It is irrationally excessive to collect this sensitive biometric data in a centralized nation-wide ID scheme. The massive collection of biometric information in a centralized ID scheme is not necessary nor proportionate in a democratic society.

EFF has documented (herehere, and here) the function creep risks that this data collection poses to privacy and security, including in those countries with data protection laws like the European Union. Informed analysis of the long-term consequences of the misused and secondary uses of this data collection and its impact in people’s lives should have been given to all citizens before the collection even started. There is still time to ask the Indian government to dismantle that colossal database, like the UK did.

Rotten Apple- Demand a clean cloud


logos

Demand a clean cloud.

The media officer fo greenpeace  informs me that due to unavidable cricumstances their protest outside the Apple office in Bangalore, has been postponed, but they are engaging with people on streets of banaglore on the issue .Write to Apple now.

petition

Massive data-centres power the ‘cloud’ which stores all our data online. Tonnes of polluting coal is burnt to power these data centres.

Last year, pressure from people all over the world made Facebookcommit to renewable energy. Over 200,000 people from across the world have written to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, asking him to quit coal. Join them and get Apple to clean our cloud.

You should write to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and ask him to use renewable energy to power Apple’s technology because coal is a polluting source of energy.

petition

We need to make Apple feel the pressure. The number of emails, reaching the CEO’s inbox, need to increase to achieve this.

Google, Yahoo! and Facebook are already taking steps to go renewable. It’s time Apple took responsibility for its technology. Ask them to act now!

Rotten apple – we demand a clean cloud

Thanks a billion!

Mrinmoy Chattaraj
Greenpeace India

P.S. Want to support our campaigns? We don’t take money from any corporation, government or political party! We never have, and we never will. Do help Greenpeace remain fiercely and proudly independent. We will send you Greenpeace organic-cotton grocery bag as a thank you for your contribution. Click here to chip in.

Greenpeace on the web:

UIDAI: Finance Ministry gives cold shoulder to Aadhaar project


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ET Bureau | May 7, 2012,

NEW DELHI: The national project to give unique identity numbers to all Indians, and enable welfare payments electronically, is now facing a snub from the very part of the government that funds it, and has been its most staunch supporter so far: The finance ministry.

Two moves initiated by the banking division in the finance ministry over the past three months appear to duplicate and bypass the work being done by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in enabling payments using itsAadhaar number and biometrics.

First, the department of financial services (DFS) has initiated its own pilot project for biometric authentication in Mewat district of Haryana. Secondly, it has advocated a model for electronic delivery of payments through banking correspondents that is identical to what the UIDAI is currently testing, but it has allowed banks to build and manage their own architecture rather than ride on UIDAI’s.

If banks take this route, and India‘s largest bank SBI is open to this idea, this could lead to a massive duplication of biometrics and authentication systems, and drastically reduce Aadhaar’s role in cash transfers. According to the UIDAI website, it had spent 1,067 crore on both enrolment and authentication systems till February 2012.

DFS secretary DK Mittal, the man behind both moves, declined to go into specifics, but said, “From time to time, we make suggestions to banks. It is up to them to accept.” But a senior UIDAI official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told ET: “This is a pure anti-Aadhaar play.”

Previously, the home ministry had expressed reservations over UIDAI’s way of doing enrolments, and wanted its own National Population Register (NPR) to handle this function in its entirety; the prime minister intervened to work out a settlement whereby both the UIDAI and the NPR did enrolments.

Then, two other ministries – rural development, and food and civil supplies – said they would bypass Aadhaar to build their own authentication system. Both argued the UIDAI’s system of online, real-time, biometric authentication was unfeasible because of poor mobile Internet connectivity in rural areas.

But, the UIDAI official said, the system the DFS pilot is testing, and that banks and banking-correspondent (BC) companies will soon reshape, is identical to what UIDAI recently finished testing in eight pilots and will soon scale up through larger pilots in 50 districts. It is, he added, online, real-time (a person’s fingerprints are authenticated instantly) and it enables inter-operability (a person can transact through any BC, as in the case of ATMs).

One of the entities working on the Mewat pilot is the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which creates routing systems for payments. When asked why the NPCI, which has been working on the UIDAI payment system too, is testing a rival payment system sans Aadhaar, its chief operating officer M Balakrishnan said he could not talk about the pilots till they are “successfully completed” and that “we are testing a range of payment options and this is one of them”.

Several players in the banking system are unsure about the UIDAI system at this point of time. This includes KC Chakrabarty, RBI deputy governor in-charge of financial inclusion, who feels banks should do authentication because Aadhaar is not ready. “Aadhaar was to give ID to people without cards, but it is giving to those who don’t need one,” he said. “Even if it signs up 500 million people in the next five to six years, and they are all people like you and me, it will not serve any purpose.”

The Mewat pilot gains additional importance in the context of the request for proposals (RFPs) public sector banks are starting to issue to meet the new rules for BC companies. The DFS has, said Mittal, “suggested” PSU banks that India be split into 20 clusters, largely along state lines. Each cluster will have a lead bank, which will appoint one BC for that cluster. The model so far allowed multiple BCs.

SBI issued the first of these RFPs for Maharashtra on April 10. A senior manager in the State Bank of India, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that RFPs for the other 19 clusters are likely to be issued by May 10. The SBI RFP specifically said the technology solution can be based on an authentication system “other than the UIDAI”.

The head of rural banking in a large public sector bank, who declined to be named, said Aadhaar’s systems are a work-in-progress. “In some time, they might take over. But right now, they are not ready,” he said. Even banks will have to start from scratch, but this official feels they will be able to reach everyone in villages with a population of above 2,000 in two years.

The SBI manager adds that Aadhaar authentication does not currently have a legal framework. “We are waiting for a communique saying that it is ok for us to accept what Aadhaar says. Till then, it will not be accepted,” he said.

“This is just a bogey,” said the UIDAI official quoted earlier.

“This is just a bogey,” says the UIDAI official quoted earlier. “We have a unique transaction code and a non-repudiable, encrypted, digitally-signed packet saying this authorisation happened. It is a far more robust system than what the banks have at present. If banks are comfortable accepting Aadhaar for opening accounts, what is the problem with letting someone take out Rs 100 using Aadhaar?

Where converts do not find a place at Dalit graveyard


P. V. SRIVIDYA, Naggapatinam May 6, 2012, The  Hindu

On Saturday, as 105-year-old Nagammal journeyed to her grave, her right to a decent burial in a yard meant for Dalits was scuttled, after caste Hindus opposed her burial as she was a convert to Christianity. Finally, her body was made to travel over 45 km to Velankanni for burial.

Two years ago, in February 2010, the body of another Dalit convert was subject to two sets of rites, one as per Christianity and was finally cremated under Hindu mores following opposition to burial from caste Hindus.

The three-cent plot of a graveyard, marked out solely for the use of Dalits of Kovilkuthagai in Katripulam village here in Vedaranyam, is the bone of contention — not among Dalits, but by caste Hindus.

The space marked out for Dalits was meant to cater to 12 families, and seven of these families had converted to Christianity over a decade ago. However, with the first of the deaths in 2010, the issue of burial came to fore, with the caste Hindus opposing the practice of burying bodies with a crucifix. They, however, do not have any objection to cremation under Hindu rites.

According to Veeramani, ex-president, and spouse of the President of Katripulam Panchayat (who spoke on her behalf), the concern was just about maintaining ‘social calm’. “We have nothing against Dalits, but if they start burying their dead, then it might pose problems for other Dalits. We prefer not to encourage new practices in the village.”

Also, the family’s request to have the burial in their own patta land was also rejected on the premise that the owners of neighbouring sites would oppose the burial. The issue was more of trying to retain ‘samudaya kattupaadu’ (social control) over these people, and religion was their sole umbilical connection to retain this control, says Birla Thangadurai, member, district monitoring committee for bonded labour. “There is evidence of burial even among us Hindu Dalits, and in the vicinity of houses,” says Thangadurai. According to him, “this is to sustain the bondedness by birth sanctified by religion.”

The bereaved family said they would not want to seek out trouble. In February of 2010, the Dalits concerned had petitioned the former Collector, and it was promised that alternative arrangements would be made. However, two years on, the issue remains unresolved.

 

Anti Nuke Protesters decide to return their Voter IDs to GOI #Koondakulam


Idinthakarai Update

May 7, 2012
“Let’s leave an Earth where our children and grandchildren can all play without worries.”
–          Yoko Kataoka, a retired baker from Japan
At 3 PM on May 6, 2012, the Struggle Committee, the community elders, women and youth met at the Committee Room near the St. Lourdes Church at Idinthakarai.
After long deliberations and discussions, we decided to return all of our Voter ID cards on May 8, 2012 protesting against the callous attitude of the Government of India and the Government of Tamil Nadu. When they do not respect the hunger strikers’ lives and our people’s interests, we do not want to vote for these selfish and anti-people mainstream politicians and political parties. We intend to return the cards to the Radhapuram Tahsildar (county administrator).
We request all our supporters in Tamil Nadu and the rest of India to return their Voter IDs to the local Tahsildar and express their opposition to the governments and show their solidarity with our campaign. Indians living abroad can return their Voter IDs to the Indian embassies in their respective countries.
 
The situation of the women hunger strikers is very grim as many of them are fainting one after the other. A medical team of 3 doctors and 5 nurses came to check the strikers’ health. As the strikers get weaker and weaker, the communities are becoming more and more concerned. But our governments care little as they care more for the interests of Russian, American and French nuclear companies.
In the meantime, the political leaders and nuclear officials continue to fool our people. The Central minister at the Prime Minister’s Office said the Koodankulam reactor would be commissioned in 40 days’ time. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has said that power generation will start at Koodankulam reactor 1 within ten days (from May 5th). But the NPCIL officials say that the operation may start much later.
Interestingly enough, no one is telling the truth because the capacity factor in the Indian nuclear power plants is only 40 percent. One nuclear official told us personally in a TV debate that it could be 60 percent at Koodankulam. This means Koodankulam reactor 1 will produce only 400-600 MW and not 1,000 MW. And the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister wants all of it from Koodankulam. The Kerala Chief Minister, who did not even know if the Koodankulam reactors had started functioning when we met him a few months back, wants 500 MW. Koodankulam is going to be a big international joke.
The Struggle Committee
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)

Aamir’s Satyamev Jayate- Copied ? You Decide


, TNN | May 7, 2012

Aamir Khan‘s TV debut yesterday, which was preceded by months of publicity, culminated in a controversy with the band Euphoria alleging that the chorus of the show’s 22-minute anthem, Satyamev Jayate, had been lifted from the band’s decade-old song Satyameva Jayate. While Euphoria’s lead singer Palash Sen said all the TV show’s team had to do was ask him for their song to be used, composer Ram Sampathrefused to comment.

I was shocked: Palash

For the last few days, Palash Sen has been receiving calls from many of his fans who told him that the tune of the anthem of Aamir’s show, Satyamev Jayate, was the same as Euphoria’s song, which was also called Satyameva Jayate.

“The trailers and the anthem of this show have been running on television for quite a while, but I had not seen the videos. When I heard it, I was shocked. In 2000, Euphoria released its second album Phir Dhoom, and one of its songs was named Satyameva Jayate. And the chorus of composer Ram Sampath’s version of Satyamev Jayate is exactly the same as the chants in our song. They’ve basically used the same refrain. Jo baaki ka gaana hai, that has different words and tune. But the mainstay of the song – the chorus – is ours. Which is why I’ve sent a legal notice to them,” says Palash.
He adds, “It was the first Indian non-film song that was composed on the thought and phrase of ‘satyameva jayate’. We used to play that song extensively at our concerts about a decade ago. That song is not as popular as Maaeri (from the same album) because we did not make a video for it. But I believe that is the point – if one takes a 12-year-old song and picks up its chorus, most people won’t know about it, barring a few passionate fans who instantly recalled it and called me up.”

I’d have given permission

“They could have asked me and I’d have agreed at one go. I wouldn’t have asked for money. I would have just asked for a small credit to the band for the song,” says Palash.

“A lot of times, I see Euphoria’s tunes, catch-phrases, etc, in many Bollywood songs, but since that was not full-fledged copying, I didn’t raise any objection. I admire and respect Ram, and I remember how he fought for copyright issues when his own song was lifted and used in Rakesh Roshan’s Krazzy 4, hence the shock is even greater. The problem is that today, in the industry, copying is so frequent that people don’t even care about the original contributor’s objections.I want the audience to hear Euphoria’s Satyameva Jayate and decide on their own,” says Palash.

In 2008, Ram was involved in a similar copyright controversy, but back then, he was the one accusing the Roshans of not giving him credit for the music of Krazzy 4. He ultimately won the case and got 2 crore as compensation.


No comment: Ram Sampath

When contacted about Palash’s allegations, Ram Sampath, composer of the anthem for Aamir’s TV show, said, “I don’t have any idea about what you are saying. Nobody has said anything of this sort to me yet. So, I refuse to comment.”

Ditto: channel

When we spoke to Star India, they refused to speak on the matter. “No comment”, said the official spokesperson. Another official, though unwilling to be quoted, told us, “We don’t deny that we have received a legal document on this. But before we take any action or revert on this, we’ll check the authenticity of the allegation. We will not simply accept what someone is shouting from one corner of the world. We need some time.

YOU WATCH BOTH VERSIONS AND DECIDE

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Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

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