Challenges / Problems of Aadhaar / UIDAI Systems in India #UID


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April 1, 2013 · http://freepress.in/

 

 

 

The Central Government is doing a direct Cash Transfer into the hands of the Poor Indian Citizens using UIDAI based Aadhar Payment Gateways / Biometric Payment systems / ATM. The key problem areas that we identified through our interactions with block-level and district-level officials, a few recipients, and BCs

 

are as follows,

 

 

Frequent connectivity issues – There were days when the BC was unable to consummate even a single transaction due to lack of connectivity.

 

 

Authentication failure – Another common complaint was failure of fingerprint authentication. Field officials gave examples of some recipients who were not able to verify their identity at the micro ATM even after multiple attempts and finally had to visit the bank branch to get the cash.

 

 

Banks are Reluctant Partners Without Service Oriented Goals

 

 

 

None of the recipients we interacted with had a bank passbook despite an express provision that all account holders will be provided with a passbook. This gives the beneficiaries no scope to check whether their money received matched the credit in their accounts. In addition, lack of passbooks makes the BC a compulsory channel for payments.

 

 

Business Correspondents Commission Payment ir-regular

 

 

 

These intermediaries have to be paid their commissions and incentives on time if the BC-operated, micro-ATM-enabled payment system has to work successfully and with integrity. We found instances of long delays in payments of incentives to the BCs. Further, surprisingly, there lack of clarity on the chain of command. The BCs were not sure whether the bank or the company that had the responsibility of creating the BC network was responsible for their payments.

 

Overall, our interactions suggested a favourable disposition towards the AEPS, mainly driven by ease of payments at the doorstep instead of a long travel required earlier.

 

 

#India – Why is mainstream media silent on the ( IL)LEGALITY of #UID #Aadhaar


Uid- I am not a criminal
by-PoliticallyIncorrect ,http://centreright.in
Why is the Mainstream Media Silent on the (il)legality of the UID Project?- II
In my last post on the UID project of the UPA government, I had raised a few issues about the manner in which the UPA went about implementing the project by circumventing constitutional protocol. In this post, I will address specifically the fundamental legal infirmities of the campaign. In doing so, I will keep this post as lucid as possible without inundating it with legalese.
As stated in the last post, when the Ministry of Planning was asked to clarify on the legality of constituting an executive body such as the UIDAI without there being a specific legislation in place which sanctioned the collection of information under the UID project, the Ministry cited the Attorney General’s opinion who seems to have relied upon Article 73 of the Constitution.
Now what does Article 73 envisage and permit? Below is the relevant portion of the Article which the Attorney General appears to have relied upon to justify what he calls “Executive Authorisation”:
Article 73: Extent of the Executive Power of the Union
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive power of the Union shall extend
To the matters with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws
Let’s interpret this Article step by step. The provision starts with a contingent clause i.e. a “Subject to” clause. This means that all other relevant provisions of the Constitution shall act as a limitation on the executive power of the Central Government (“Union”) to deal with matters with respect to which the Parliament has the right to legislate.
Simply put, if there is any other provision in the Constitution which prevents the Central Government from issuing notifications in the absence of a specific legislation made by the Parliament, such notifications would be patently unconstitutional.
The UID, without a doubt, deals with the private details of individuals, and consequently falls within the realm of “privacy”. The Supreme Court has time and gain clarified that privacy-related issues fall within the ambit of Article 21 since right to privacy has been interpreted as being integral to “right to life” under Article 21.
Therefore, the question is, does the Constitution permit intrusion into privacy through mere executive orders such as the UIDAI notification? Or does the Constitution mandate passing a legislation which is fair and reasonable before private details can be collected?
Article 21 states,
Protection of Life and Personal Liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law
Clearly, Article 21 frowns upon intrusion of privacy except “according to procedure established by law”. Therefore, if the UID notification does not fall under the category of “procedure established by law”, the UPA government cannot invoke its “executive powers” under Article 73 to lend legal sanctity to the UID project.
In as early as 1950, in what is still one of the most celebrated decisions of the Supreme Court on the power of the State to summarily abridge the rights of an individual, the Apex Court in A.K.Gopalan v. The State of Madras held that the reference to “law” in “procedure established by law” in Article 21 is to a formal statute/legislation. In other words, there must be a specific statute which must be invoked to impose restrictions on the life and liberty of any person. This applies to restrictions on and intrusions into the privacy of any person (not just citizen).
Keeping with above requirement of a formal legislation, when information is sought by passport offices, they do so under the Passports Act, 1967. When Road Transport authorities seek details for issuing driving licenses and permits, they do so under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and Central Motor Vehicles Rules. In stark contrast to these legislations, there is no parent legislation which governs the UID notification. This ground alone is sufficient to strike down the UID notification as being unconstitutional. But the story doesn’t end there…
Let’s take a look at what the UID Authority is empowered to do:
(i)    Generate and assign UID numbers
(ii)    Define mechanisms and processes for interlinking UID with partner databases on a continuous basis.
(iii)    Frame policies and administrative procedures related to updating mechanism and maintenance of UID data base on an ongoing basis.
(iv)    Coordinate / liaise with implementation partners and user agencies as also define conflict resolution mechanism.
(v)    Define usage and applicability of UID for delivery of various services.
(vi)    Operate and manage all stages of UID lifecycle.
(vii)    Adopt phased approach for implementation of UID especially with reference to approved timelines.
(viii)    Take necessary steps to ensure collation of NPR with UID (as per approved strategy).
(ix)    Ensure ways for leveraging field level institutions appropriately such as Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in establishing linkages across partner agencies as well as its validation while cross linking with other designated agencies.
(x)    Evolve strategy for awareness and communication of UID and its usage.
(xi)    Identify new partner / user agencies.
(xii)    Issue necessary instructions to agencies that undertake creation of data bases, to ensure standardization of data elements that are collected and digitized and enable collation and correlation with UID and its partner data bases.
(xiii)    Frame policies and administrative procedures related to hiring / retention / mobilization of resources, outsourcing of various tasks and budgeting and planning for UIDAI and all State units under UIDAI.
The sheer magnitude of powers vested in an executive authority such as the UIDAI in relation to an issue which affects privacy of individuals, in the absence of a governing legislation which provides for safeguards, is atrocious and outrageous.
Where is the safeguard to prevent the use of skewed metrics to profile the population, and that too to facilitate anti-national policies of the Government of the day? Where is the attribution of liability for goof-ups and blunders committed by the authorities? When illegal migration is a raging issue, where is the caveat against legitimizing illegal immigrants by providing them with Aadhaar cards?
Excessive delegation of such vast powers to the executive authority is a strict no-no under Indian law. Here’s what the Supreme Court had to say in Devi Das Gopal Krishnan and Ors.Vs. State of Punjab and Ors. (1967) on the issue of excessive delegation:
“The Constitution confers a power and imposes a duty on the legislature to make laws. The essential legislative function is the determination of the legislative policy and its formulation as a rule of conduct. Obviously it cannot abdicate items functions in favor of another. But in view of the multifarious activities of a welfare State, it cannot presumably work out all the details to suit the varying aspects of a complex situation. It must necessarily delegate the working out of details to the executive or any other agency.
But there is a danger inherent in such a process of delegation. An overburdened legislature or one controlled by a powerful executive may unduly overstep the limits of delegation. It may not lay down any policy at all; it may not declare its policy in vague and general terms; it may not set down any standard for the guidance of the executive; it may confer an arbitrary power on the executive to change or modify the policy laid down by it without reserving for itself and control over subordinate legislation. This self effacement of legislative power in favour of another agency either in whole or in part is beyond the permissible limits of delegation..”
This was the observation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a case where there was already governing parent legislation in place. In the case of the UID project, I repeat there is no parent legislation at all. Therefore, this caveat against vesting an executive authority with unchecked powers applies all the more to the UID authority.
In light of the above, I can’t help asking this question- How on earth have the Congress-led UPA government in the Centre and a few State Congress governments gotten away with the blatant implementation of the UID project for 4 years since 2009. Where are the bleeding heart liberal voices and mombattiwallahs who arrogate to themselves the exalted status of being the sole guardians of civil liberties? Hypocrisy much? I’d say so…

 

#India – summary of the National Food Security Bill, 2013


March 24, 2013
 Jean Dreze

1. Preliminaries

The Bill seeks “to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity and for matters connected therwith and incidental thereto”.

It extends to the whole of India and “shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette appoint, and different dates may be appointed for different States and different provisions of this Act”.

2. Entitlements

Public Distribution System (TPDS)

Priority households are entitled to 5 kgs of foodgrains per person per month, and Antyodaya households to 35 kgs per household per month. The combined coverage of Priority and Antyodaya households (called “eligible households”) shall extend “up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population”.

The PDS issue prices are given in Schedule I: Rs 3/2/1 for rice/wheat/millets (actually called “coarse grains” in the Bill). These may be revised after three years.

Children’s Entitlements

For children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years, the Bill guarantees an age-appropriate meal, free of charge, through the local anganwadi. For children aged 6-14 years, one free mid-day meal shall be provided every day (except on school holidays) in all schools run by local bodies, government and government aided schools, up to Class VIII. For children below six months, “exclusive breastfeeding shall be promoted”.

Children who suffer from malnutrition will be identified through the local anganwadi and meals will be provided to them free of charge “through the local anganwadi”.

Entitlements of Pregnant and Lactating Women

Every pregnant and lactating mother is entitled to a free meal at the local anganwadi (during pregnancy and six months after child birth) as well as maternity benefits of Rs 6,000, in instalments.

[Notes: (1) “Meal” is defined in the Bill as “hot cooked meal or ready to eat meal or take home ration, as may be prescribed by the Central Government”. All “meals” have to meet nutritional norms specified in Schedule II. (2) The entitlements of women and children are to be delivered by state governments through schemes “in accordance with the guidelines, including cost sharing” to be prescribed by the Central Government. (3) Every school and anganwadi is to have “facilities for cooking meals, drinking water and sanitation”. (4) For purposes of issuing ration cards, the eldest woman in the household (not less than 18 years of age) shall be considered head of the household.]

3. Identification of Eligible Households

The Bill does not specify criteria for the identification of households (Priority or Antyodaya) eligible for PDS entitlements. The Central Government is to determine the state-wise coverage of the PDS, in terms of proportion of the rural/urban population. Then numbers of eligible persons will be calculated from Census population figures. The identification of eligible households is left to state governments, subject to the scheme’s guidelines for Antyodaya, and subject to guidelines to be “specified” by the state government for Priority households. The lists of eligible households are to be placed in the public domain and “displayed prominently” by state governments.

4. Food Commissions

The Bill provides for the creation of State Food Commissions. Each Commission shall consist of a chairperson, five other members and a member-secretary (including at least two women and one member each from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes).

The main function of the State Commission is to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the act, give advice to the states governments and their agencies, and inquire into violations of entitlements (either suo motu or on receipt of a complaint, and with “all the powers of a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908”). State Commissions also have to hear appeals against orders of the District Grievance Redressal Officer and prepare annual reports to be laid before the state legislature.

The State Commission may forward “any case” to a Magistrate having jurisdiction, who shall proceed as if the case has been forwarded under Section 346 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.

5. Transparency and Grievance Redressal

The Bill provides for a two-tier grievance redressal structure, involving the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO) and State Food Commission. State governments must also put in place an internal grievance redressal mechanism which may include call centres, help lines, designation of nodal officers, “or such other mechanisms as may be prescribed”.

Transparency Provisions

Mandatory transparency provisions include: (1) placing all PDS-related records in the public domain and keeping them open for inspection to the public; (2) conducting periodic social audits of the PDS and other welfare schemes; (3) using information and communication technology (including end-to-end computerisation of the PDS) “to ensure transparent recording of transactions at all levels”; (4) setting up vigilance committees at state, district, block and fair price shop levels to supervise all schemes under the act.

District Grievance Redressal Officers

DGROS shall be appointed by state governments for each district to hear complaints and take necessary action according to norms to be prescribed by state governments. If a complainant (or the officer or authority against whom an order has been passed by the DGRO) is not satisfied, he or she may file an appeal before the State Food Commission.

Penalties and Compensation

The Food Commissions have powers to impose penalties. If an order of the DGRO is not complied with, the concerned authority or officer can be fined up to Rs. 5,000. The Commission can authorise “any of its members” to act as an adjudicating officer for this purpose.

In case of “non-supply of the entitled quantities of foodgrains or meals to entitled persons”, such persons will be entitled to a food security allowance from the state government, as prescribed by the central government.

6. Other Provisions

PDS Reforms

In Chapter VII, the Bill states that central and state governments “shall endeavour to progressively undertake” various PDS reforms, including: doorstep delivery of foodgrains; ICT applications and end-to-end computerisation; leveraging “aadhaar” (UID) for unique identification of entitled beneficiaries; full transparency of records; preference to public institutions or bodies in licensing of fair price shops; management of fair price shops by women or their collectives; diversification of commodities distributed under the PDS; full transparency of records; and “introducing schemes such as cash transfer, food coupons or other schemes to the targeted beneficiaries in lieu of their foodgrain entitlements” as prescribed by the central government.

Obligations of Government and Local Authorities

The main obligation of the Central Government is to provide foodgrains (or, failing that, funds) to state governments, at prices specified in Schedule I, to implement the main entitlements. It also has to “provide assistance” to state governments to meet local distribution costs, but on its own terms (“as may be prescribed”). The Central Government has wide-ranging powers to make Rules.

The main obligation of state governments is to implement the relevant schemes, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Central Government. State governments also have wide-ranging powers to make Rules. They are free to extend benefits and entitlements beyond what is prescribed in the Bill, from their own resources.

Local Authorities and Panchayati Raj Institutions are responsible for proper implementation of the act in their respective areas, and may be given additional responsibilities by notification.

7. Schedules

The Bill has three schedules (these can be amended “by notification”). Schedule 1 prescribes issue prices for the PDS. Schedule 2 prescribes “nutritional standards” for midday meals, take-home rations and related entitlements. For instance, take-home rations for children aged 6 months to 3 years should provide at least 500 calories and 12-15 grams of protein. Schedule 3 lists various “provisions for advancing food security”, under three broad headings: (1) revitalization of agriculture (e.g. agrarian reforms, research and development, remunerative prices), (2) procurement, storage and movement of foodgrains (e.g. decentralised procurement), and (3) other provisions (e.g. drinking water, sanitation, health care, and “adequate pensions” for “senior citizens, persons with disability and single women”).

 

#India- The Politics of Death Penalty


death-penalty

Rajindar Sachar

 

 

One had always heard perjorative remarks about politics and morality being distant neighbors, notwithstanding the life long struggle by Gandhiji to have some kind of connect between these. This was demonstrated with a telling thud in the way Central Government has dealt with the case of Afzal Guru a resident of J & K who was held guilty in attack on Parliament and sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in 2005. The lower court thereupon fixed 20th October 2006 as date of execution. However the wife of Guru filed a mercy petition before the President who after giving personal hearing to her, asked for some clarifications from the Home Ministry, which was never sent.

 

Guru had also in 2006 sent petition through the jail to the President. He never   received   any   reply   to   this  application, but nevertheless was

hanged on the morning of 9th February, 2013. Excepting for few officials, none including the family of Guru knew of the impending execution. I am personally against the death penalty, being follower of Gandhiji, J.P., Dr. Ambedkar.  But even if we have death penalty, the manner in which hanging has been carried out in this case certainly outrages principles of humanity.

 

I am also concerned with the low in politics where hanging of one person becomes the subject of slinging match between two major political parties Congress and B.J.P. For the last so many years BJP has ad-nauseam made the issue of hanging of Guru as one of its major political strategy and to seek to project the delay by the Congress government as antinational, unpatriotic and most mischievously as a Muslim appeasement question. Congress was upto now explaining the delay as an administrative question. But it would appear that core group of Congress has now decided that it was necessary to hang Guru to counter the challenge of B.J.P., because of the proximity of General Elections to Parliament in 2014, and may be to advance the date of Election  at  convenient date  in  2013.  So since a month back Digvijaya Singh Congress General Secretary, suddenly and without any provocation invited questions on TV on Guru and making a very pointed statement demanding Guru’s hanging.

 

Having so decided UPA Government went about Guru’s hanging in the vilest of human Rights violations. No where in the world, where a modicum of rule of law exists, can the government hang its citizen without informing his family prior to it and allowing them to meet him. Human dignity of Guru was violated by denying him this right. Government’s clumsy claim that a speed post was sent on 7th February from Delhi to the family of Guru in J & K and since the family did not contact the government, they went ahead with hanging. Such a convoluted explanation will immediately invite the taunt “Tell that to the Marines”. Admittedly letter was received by the family on 11th February, when Guru had already been hanged on 9th February. Can one even imagine the deep permanent scar left on the family especially the wife and small child.

 

I have no doubt that there was premeditated decision by the Home Ministry not to allow the family to meet Guru (because this would become public knowledge) and presumably it will naturally result in some demonstrations especially in J & K and Delhi. Admittedly Mr. Shinde, Central Home Minister telephoned Omar Farouk Chief Minister of J & K a couple of days earlier informing him of the decision to hang Guru and asking for his reaction – Omar is stated to have raised no objection, but asked only to be told earlier to the date of hanging. The further news report suggests that Home Minister a few days later himself talked on phone to Omar and in the accepted style of conspirators told him in code language that “the event he had told him earlier will be done in a day or so”. What more proof is required to show complete disregard for well established norms by the government.

 

This hush on the plea of security is laughable. No doubt there would have been some demonstrations and protests, but so what – it is a normal feature in democracies, unless it is the governments plea that its security machinery is so incompetent that it could not deal with demonstrations   by   angry    supporters    of     Guru    and  that  it also apprehended a Navy Seal Expedition like done by USA government to kidnap Osama Bin laden in Pakistan.

 

Bonafide of governments intention to hang immediately is also being questioned, considering that government knew that Supreme Court is still examining the question that if there is delay of over 2 years in disposing of the mercy petition, no execution should take place – in Guru’s case delay is over 7 years – was not that enough reason to suspend hanging of Guru in the meanwhile.

 

The killers of Indira Gandhi were allowed to meet their family members before hanging. Has the functioning of Central government become so sullied that their own precedents have no relevance.

 

Even now with all this inhuman and defenseless exercise, the central government is refusing to return the body of Guru to the family. Both in law and morality, the family is entitled to the body of Guru so that it can be buried with all the usual religious ceremonies at a place of their choosing, so  that  they can visit the grave like others can. No silly prison rule to refuse the body to the family on the puerile excuse of public disorder can be pleaded in defense. The government in order to conceal its own illegalities, insensivity and violation of Human Rights has got caught in its own web and succeeded in projecting Guru in death larger than in life.

 

The Central government should not muddy the situation any further. It has already allowed itself to be cornered by B.J.P. in the communal cauldron, inviting a legitimate comment that in the matter of belief in secularism, the difference between B.J.P. and Congress is that between tweedledum and tweedledee – the former being openly anti-secular and the later being also the same but concealing it under a thin ice which dissolves at the altar of electoral strategy.

 

As an epilogue, should we not consider that instead of governments repeating in future such nauseating violation of the Human Rights,  India should follow the course of at over 140 countries which have agreed to abolish the death penalty and have put a moratorium on any more hangings.

 

Dated: 20/02/2013

New Delhi

 

#India- Between thirst and darkness in Maharashtra


Rivers are diverted for generating electricity, while the government plans water trains for its people. Baba Umar reports on an impossible situation in the state
Baba Umar

January 31, 2013, Issue 6 Volume 10

Parched earth Eight districts in the Marathwada region of the state are expected to run completely dry by March, Photo: Getty Images

THIS SUMMER, people in southern Maharashtra can enjoy either electricity or water, not both. Until recently, the state had prioritised use of water for industrial purposes over agriculture. But now the government finds itself at odds to explain the diversion of water to hydel projects when water activists claim that the diverted water can be used to meet the requirements of eight drought-hit districts, which are expected to run completely dry by March.

Activists say the state government diverts massive quantities of water from the drought-hit regions of southern Maharashtra to hydel projects in the water surplus western regions of the state, eventually ending up in the Arabian Sea. But stopping the diversion may also mean shortage of electricity in an energy-starved state.

“If the government is serious about quenching the thirst of millions of people, then it has to stop diverting water from east flowing rivers to the west, which is a water surplus area and receives over 3,000 mm rainfall annually,” explains water resources expert Himanshu Thakkar a water rights activist.

Maharashtra diverts 1,413 MCM of water annually to three hydel projects from the Krishna river basin, while the Koyna dam in Satara district diverts 1,911.4 MCM of water from the Krishna basin to five hydel projects. Currently, these projects have 2,835 MCM of water in live storage. And this water is sent to Konkan areas where it ends up in Arabian sea.

“The water available in live storage capacity of these dams today is sufficient to provide 100 litres per capita per day for about 7 crore people for the entire year, provided it’s not diverted,” Thakkar says.

According to him this water, besides the additional flow into these dams through the rest of the year, can be useful for the drought-prone areas if no more water from any of these dams are allowed to drain into the Konkan rivers until monsoon arrives.

The three hydel projects in the Krishna- basin collectively produce 297 MW of electricity, while the five hydel projects based around the Koyna dam collectively produce around 1,956 MW of power. The eight projects add up to 8.5 percent of the state’s total installed power capacity.

“A decision should have been taken as soon as it became apparent that the monsoon is a failure and the state is in dire need of all available water,” says Thakkar. “We are already at least five months late in taking a decision on this. When people are facing severe water scarcity, it is high time the diversions were stopped.”

Currently, water is being supplied across the region by tankers. Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government has already spent Rs 414 crore to combat the situation, of which Rs 248 crore was released for erecting cattle shelters for nearly 70,000 cattle head in the drought-hit villages and hamlets. According to reports, the government has also finalised plans to send water-filled train carriages to the droughthit region.

Earlier this month, a high-level committee that studies which states affected by natural calamities need the Central government’s help approved assistance of Rs 778.09 crore to Maharashtra. But people living in the districts of Aurangabad, Nanded, Latur, Jalna, Beed, Parbhani, Osmanabad and Hingoli, which are the worst-hit in the region, are yet to see the crisis subsiding.

“The state government must work on long-term solutions. Sending water by tankers is a only short-term effort,” says Shrikant Katre, a local journalist. In Jalna, people are taking their cattle to government shelters “because they can’t afford to provide the animals with water and fodder”, he adds.

A media report suggested that stopping water diversion was discussed during a meeting at the water resources ministry, but the option was rejected.

“Stopping diversion would also mean hampering energy production in the already distressed state,” a senior official in the water resources ministry told TEHELKA on the condition of anonymity. “The government, I think, would continue to remain in limbo. We can’t see power cuts in the state, neither can we see people dying of water. It’s a double-edged sword.”

In the past five years, the state’s peak electricity demand deficit has risen from 17 percent in 2005-06, to 22 percent in 2011-12.

But water expert Thakkar says: “In times of crisis, such decisions need to be considered. Maharashtra is already facing the possibility of conflicts and clashes, with the people and cattle in the Krishna basin facing dire water scarcity. When there is talk of running water-tanker trains, shouldn’t this option too be explored?”

WATER RESOURCES Minister Sunil Tatkare couldn’t be reached for his comments. His public relations officer, however, referred TEHELKA to Dr Patangrao Shripatrao Kadam, minister for rehabilitation and relief works saying, “His ministry is managing the present drought condition.” But Kadam’s staff denied access saying, “He is busy in a meeting and can’t comment right now.” An SMS sent to Kadam elicited no response.

Suniti Su Ra of the National Alliance of People’s Movements says the water from these dams have been flowing into the sea for more than 60 years and in all these years the government could have developed a mechanism to stop this water from going waste.

“The state needs to overhaul its water policy. Water for industries has all along been prioritised over water for agriculture and drinking purposes. Water meant for farmers and drinking purposes is guzzled by industries across the state,” she says.

While the government is struggling to help people survive the drought, Thakkar says the only option left is to stop the diversion of water from ending up in the sea.

But is the government listening?

babaumar@tehelka.com

 

Include Aadhaar in degrees, birth certificates: Sheila Dikshit #UID


By IANSNEW DELHI

10th January 2013 05:30 PM

  • The chief minister announced here that Delhi would achieve 95 percent Aadhaar enrolment by Feb 2013. |PTi File photo
    The chief minister announced here that Delhi would achieve 95 percent Aadhaar enrolment by Feb 2013. |PTi File photo

Setting an April deadline for implementation of all nine central schemes through direct cash transfer, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit urged the union government to include Aadhaar numbers on degree and birth certificates.

The Delhi government launched four centrally-sponsored schemes through Aadhaar Enabled Direct Cash Transfer scheme in two of its districts Jan 1, when the scheme took off in 20 districts of the country.

The chief minister announced here that Delhi would achieve 95 percent Aadhaar enrolment by Feb 2013.

Dikshit also stated that each Aadhaar number is unique to an individual, and would remain valid for life.

 

Demand for SIT probe into Centre’s child nutrition scheme


Down to Earth
Author(s): Richard Mahapatra
Date: Dec 4, 2012

Supreme Court commissioners report multi-crore scam involving private contractors and bureaucrats in food distribution under Integrated Child Development Scheme

imageRichard Mahapatra

Two commissioners of the Supreme Court in the right to food case have recommended setting up an independent Special Investigation Team, similar to the one for the 2G spectrum scam, to investigate corruption and quality in food procurement for the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Following a comprehensive investigation of the scheme in four states, the commissioners have reported a deep-rooted nexus among bureaucrats, politicians and private food contractors to siphon off funds meant for poor children and women.

In October 2004, the apex court prohibited involvement of private contractors in procurement of food for children and women under ICDS. It ordered that ICDS funds be spent on village communities and self-help groups (SHGs) for buying grains and preparing meals. On an average, this would have pumped in around Rs. 6,000 crore to local communities.

But states have been violating this order blatantly or have tweaked the tender systems for the past eight years to favour private contractors. What’s more, food supplied by contractors was found to be much below the prescribed nutrition level.

Under ICDS, anganwadis (centres for providing healthcare and nutrition to small children and mothers in rural areas) provide morning snacks and hot lunch to children between three and six years. Besides, nutrition mix is given to children between six months and three years, and to pregnant and lactating women. It covers 80 million children in the country under the age of six, and 18 million pregnant and breastfeeding mothers through 1.7 million anganwadis.

The commissioners have submitted a 100-odd pages report to the apex court on November 29 2012. This comes after thorough investigation by the commissioners in four states: Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat.

“It is now (time) for an independent Special Investigation Team to thoroughly probe this nexus and bring to book those who are responsible for stealing food for children of the poorest and most marginalised communities in the country,” recommends the report to the apex court. The report has mentioned how government officials and private contractors have entered into nexus to continue with the old system. The apex court is expected to give its verdict on the recommendations in the near future.

In the past eight years, the apex court gave at least 12 directions to states on violation of its 2004 order. In many cases the court has specifically ordered states like Gujarat to hand over the food contracts to local communities and SHGs.

But as the report finds, states have either outrightly defied this order to tweak the system in such a way that private contractors get to do the same in the guise of SHGs or local community groups. The Central government spends close to Rs 10,000 crore every year on food supply under ICDS.

Ponty finger in this pie

In UP, the state government continues to outsource food supply to private companies, including the one headed by the Gurdeep Singh (Ponty) Chadha, who was killed recently in his Delhi farmhouse along with his brother in a suspected incident of fratricide. His company was severely indicted by the National Human Rights Commission last year for serious malpractices in food supply (Read the report here). On September 24, the government floated a new tender for supply of food under the ICDS. The tender notice does mention SHGs as the preferred agency but has put the condition of Rs 25 crore/year turnover. No local community group can meet this condition, thus making way for entry of private companies. “There has been dissatisfaction about this eligibility criterion for prospective bidders, alleging exclusion of mahila mandals (women cooperatives), SHGs and village committees by setting the financial requirements too high,” says the report.

In Maharashtra, too, the commissioners found that the government obeyed the court order on decentralising the procurement. But it put tough conditions and terms that only private companies could meet. In Gujarat, the state government never took any initiative to implement the court order.

In another interesting finding, the commissioners have found private contractors coming together to monopolise contracts under ICDS, at least in the four states they studied. “Some private contractors have been successful in establishing a monopoly through several states for supply of take home rations for supplementary nutrition provision under the ICDS either through direct contract with the state government or under another cloak,” finds the report.

A massive expenditure of Rs 1,83,778 crore in the 12th Plan to effectively implement ICDS in “Mission Mode”. Would it end as another opportunity for private contractors to amass a fortune at the cost of poor children and mothers needing nutritional care?

 

Letter to Gujarat CM #Narendramodi on #SoniaGandhi #mustread


  • Letter to the Chief Minister of Gujarat by Social Activist Trupti Shah
  • Government of India should not hide the information about personal foreign trip expenses incurred by Central Government if any for Ms. Sonia Gandhi.

  • Information regarding travelling expenses of the Chief Minister of Gujarat and State Ministers during “Women Empowerment Sammelans” of 2007 under sought vide RTI application dated 18-07-2007 not provided and my Complaint No. 74/2008-2009 is pending before the Chief Information Commissioner of

    English: Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Guja...

    English: Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, India, speaks during the welcome lunch at the World Economic Forum’s India Economic Summit 2008 in New Delhi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Gujarat.

Dr. Trupti Shah,
37 Patrakar Colony,
Tandalja Road, Post: Akota,
Vadodara 390 020, Gujarat
Phone/Fax No: +91-265-2320399,
Email: trupti.vadodara@gmail.com
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

By Email & FAX
2 October 2012

To,
Shri Narendrabhai Modi
The Chief Minister of Gujarat
Government of Gujarat
1st Block, 5th Floor, New Sachivalaya,
Gandhinagar – 382 010.

Subject: Government of India should not hide the information about the personal foreign trip expenses if any for Ms. Sonia Gandhi incurred by Central Government. Information regarding travelling expenses of the Chief Minister of Gujarat and State Ministers during “Women Empowerment Sammelans” of 2007 under sought vide RTI application dated 18-07-2007 not provided and my Complaint No. 74/2008-2009 is pending before the Chief Information Commissioner of Gujarat.

Dear Mr. Modi,

I agree with you that Government of India should not hide the information about personal foreign trip expenses incurred by Central Government if any for Ms. Sonia Gandhi. I believe you have no choice but to agree with me that this is equally applicable to you and the Government of Gujarat also.

An RTI application dated 18-07-2007 was filed by me to your office asking the details about expenses of Government of Gujarat for organizing “Women’s Empowerment Sammelans” in 27 places of Gujarat, just before 2007 State Assembly election. Till today I have not received the information about travelling expenses incurred by you and other ministers for travelling to 27 places for these sammelans.

Even after my repeated letters asking for the details about travelling expenses made by you, the Chief Minister and the other Ministers, it was practically denied to me by forwarding these letters not only from one department to another but also several times between the departments. My RTI application was not only forwarded to all the districts but even up to the block level in some cases.

At last I got the letter dated 01-11-2007 by General Administrative Department (GAD) which provided list of 27 places visited by you, the Chief Minister for “Women’s Empowerment Sammelans” between 10-03-2007 to 20-09-2007 but about travelling expenses the letter states that “As per the information provided by the office of the honorable Chief Minister, honorable Chief Minister do not mention the travelling expenses, so as far as travelling expense of the Chief Minister is concern, considered that as Nil.”

This was ridiculous and unbelievable as it is known that you have travelled to most of these places by helicopter.

The GAD’s letter dated 01-11-2007 was replied by me vide letter dated 20-11-2007 stating that since the list mentions the 27 places the Chief Minister had visited it follows that the expenditure on your travel  to these 27 places would have been borne either by some department of the Government of Gujarat and/or sponsored by some private parties and therefore it is incumbent upon you to provide me the names of persons/agencies who had spent/sponsored the travelling expenses and details of the expenses made by them. Then, since there was no response from your General Administrative Department, a reminder dated 18-01-2008 was sent to the department and your office, the CMO. Further reminder dated 17-04-2008 was sent to the General Administrative Department and the Chief Minister office. Your office always forwarded my all letters to other departments and surprisingly kept silence on my RTI application.

As a result of the silence of your office, I was forced to file a complaint under section 18(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 before the Chief Information Commissioner of Gujarat. On 03-05-2008 Complaint No. 74/2008-2009 was filed by me requesting the concerned authorities to provide me the information about the travelling expenses made by you, the Chief Minister and other Ministers who participated in the Sammelans. To date, I have not been provided this information.

In the last hearing dated 26-09-2012 of my Complaint No. 74/2008-2009, the Chief Information Commission orally directed the General Administrative Department (GAD) to collect the information demanded by me from the concerned departments and pass on this information to me before next hearing which may take place in October 2012. During the discussion of the hearing of the case the concerned officer of General Administrative Department (GAD) expressed helplessness by stating that such information is not available with them because though they have requested the office of the Chief Minister and office of the other Ministers for the information, it has not been provided to them. However, they stated that they will once again try to collect this information if available. Looking at discussion before the Chief Information Commissioner and after the hearing of case outside the office, I have a strong feeling that GAD will not be able to collect and send the information to me if the Chief Minister office does not co-operate.

Let me remind you the background of my RTI application as this was not asked just for curiosity by me. These sammelans were organized by you spending crores of rupees in one day programmes in the name of ‘Women’s Empowerment’ when the demand by the women of Gujarat for providing implementation machinery for the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and the PCPNDT Act 1994 was denied by your Government in the name of lack of funds. Till today there are not enough full time ‘Protection Officers’ with effective infrastructure to implement these laws. Yet, the State Government was able to raise and spend more than 5 crores rupees on one day Sammelans across the state. I would also like to remind you that the partial information that I have gathered from various departments through my above mentioned RTI, this 5+ crores does not include the travelling expenses by you, the Chief Minister and other Ministers.

You are conveniently talking about the delay of Central Government for providing the information about travelling expenses for personal foreign trips of Ms. Sonia Gandhi that are incurred by the Central Government, if any. I agree that Central Government should not hide the information. The same should be applicable to you also. Please note, in your case the information was asked in the year 2007 and  5 years have elapsed and till today information about travelling expenses to 27 places for the Government’s specially announced “Women’s Empowerment Sammelans” by you, the Chief Minister and other Minister is not provided to me.

In this context I would also like to mention that no information has been provided to me regarding the expenses incurred by you and your ministers for the Government program called ‘Sadbhavana Mission’ dated 17-18-19 September 2011 for which an RTI application has been filed by me and fellow activist Rohit Prajapati. Since information was not provided to us, we were forced to file a complaint on 20-12-2011 and now our Complaint No. 610/2011-2012 is pending for hearing because of lack of staff and number of information commissioners in the state.

I hope that at least now you will direct your office to collect the information from the concerned Government Departments and provide to me after 5 years, in response to my RTI Application dated 18-07-2007.

Expecting positive response.

                                    Trupti Shah
                        [Dr. Trupti Shah]
Social Activist of Gujarat

UID Authority started work sans homework, says social activist #Aadhaar


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monday, 17 September 2012 14:31
HEMANTA KUMAR PRADHAN | BHUBANESWAR, Pioneer

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had done no homework before starting its job,” said social activist Dr Usha Ramnathan in her speech in a debate on ‘Is there any necessity of UID’ organised by the Lohia Academy here on Sunday. She said the UID project is not governed by any law.

Stating that the National Population Registrar (NPR) which collects bio-metric data is flouting the law and the whole exercise being undertaken in the country is illegal, Ramnathan said NPR is governed by law but it is exceeding what the law envisages. On the other hand, UID is a project which is not governed by any law, she said.

UIDAI in its own report said, the people were anxious while giving their fingerprints in the UID camps. Even the people wondered about the reason of taking their fingerprint and in what way it would benefit them, the report added. The Government has imposed a technology which the people of the country know nothing about. The UID project is more urban-centric, said the participants during the debate.

“We don’t have any Indian bio-metric company in the project. They are publicly saying that they would encrypt the data and it would be safe, but it won’t. Other modern technologies could hack that. The latest technology would break the earlier technology and the hacked data may pass into the hands of some outsiders. Then why we all are putting some imaginations at risk where there is no meaning,” said Ramnathan.

Ramnathan said India in the 90’s had started the process of delegation of power to the people and in the last decade it brought the Right to Information Act which has given a democratic space for the people of the country. But the Central Government again wants to centralise power by using the UIDAI project which would take all the data of an individual, she added.

She also said the companies work hierarchically, but democracy does not. “When you bring a company person, you cannot expect him to understand democracy, he would understand only hierarchy. The people who have worked most of their lives in top positions of a company, how can we expect that they would work taking people’s perspectives into account,” she asked.

Ramnathan lamented that the Government has become very greedy to know every details of every individual. “I have the right to know everything about our State but the State has no right to know everything about me. In that way the State wants to govern us and control us like a colonial State. Now the people who have the power are behaving like colonial rulers, which is neither Constitutional nor a good politics and no democratic country in the world is working in this manner,” said Ramanathan.

Participating in the debate, Gopal Krishna of the Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties at New Delhi said the proposal of merging the Election ID cards with UID makes a mockery of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance on UID Bill. It is noteworthy that all Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have UID as well. Notably Land Titling Bill makes a provision for linking land titles to UIDs of Indian residents, he added.

These acts of convergence would undermine the Constitutional rights and change the meaning of democracy, he said, adding, “It is an act of changing both the form and content of democracy and democratic rights in a new technology-based regime where technologies and technology companies are beyond regulation because they are bigger than the Government and legislatures.”

Koondakulam Anti- Nuke Protesters to be examined by psychiatrists NIMHANS – #WTFnews


Centre to deal anti-nuke mind-set with NIMHANS

Veena Joshi Datta

BANGALORE: Having exhausted all options to end opposition to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, the Centre now plans to get a peek into the protesters’ minds and remove any fears.

For this, it has decided to engage a team of psychiatrists from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore.

In the first week of May, a representative from the Central Government visited NIMHANS to discuss strategies and to chalk out a plan of action.

The Central team wanted to evolve a method to engage with those involved in the Koodankulam agitation.

Following this, NIMHANS has already started working on the project and has formed a team comprising six members to take up the task of counselling protestors.

Some of these members are from the department of social psychiatry.

 

A former director of National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) is expected to lead this project.

 

The institute has already commenced the collection of primary data in this regard and is now gearing up to seek field reactions from villages in Tamil Nadu as the secondary research data for further formulation of multiple strategies to address the problem.

 

Dr P Satishchandra, director, NIMHANS, told Express that this will be a long-term project, which is currently in its infancy.

 

“We will submit a detailed report to the Central Government within a week and depending on the government’s response, further strategies will be planned for this project,” Dr Satishchandra added.

 

NIMHANS hopes to work in tandem with self help groups, NGOs, local administration and other community level workers who can help people understand the importance of the nuclear power plant.

 

The effort will be to allay apprehensions.

 

For instance, the fishing community is apprehensive about safety following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

 

There was also a fear among villagers that once the reactor is set in motion, the condenser water released into the sea could affect marine life jeopardising fishermen’s livelihood.

 

Besides, there was also a fear that mock exercises mean permanent eviction of residents.

 

Considering these factors, the members have planned to chalk out various exercises at the grass-root level to convince protestors that the nuclear power plant is safe and essential for the country.

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