Hindu outfit forces artist to take painting off exhibition #Censorship #FOE

, TNN | Apr 9, 2013,

Hindu outfit forces artist to take painting off exhibition
Painter Eleena Banik had painted Goddess Kali without the usual garland of skulls and another of Goddess Durga wearing a fig leaf cover of strawberries.
MUMBAI: Activists of the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) Saturday forced a Kolkata-based painter to remove two canvases depicting Hindu goddesses in the nude. The Jehangir Art Gallerythat was hosting the exhibition, as well as officers of Colaba police station, urged her to comply in the interest of peace.

Painter Eleena Banik had painted Goddess Kali without the usual garland of skulls and another of Goddess Durga wearing a fig leaf cover of strawberries. “As an artist I retain the freedom to interpret my culture. Those who object to my art, or of M F Husain and Akbar Padamsee, have not read Hindu mythology where our deities are depicted nude. I drew Durga this way to empower women after the Delhi gangrape,” she said.

Banik accused Varsha Thakar of the HJS of “threatening her” and “forcibly taking photographs” of the paintings. “She arrived at the gallery on Saturday and asked why I had painted cherries on the figure of a female Hindu deity. I pointed out that they were strawberries and cited my rights as an artist to draw things the way I see them. I could draw a tree in violet colour and nobody could object,” she said. Thakar telephoned Colaba police station and senior police inspector Vinod Sawant arrived and requested Banik to remove the artworks for public peace. Thakar said, “We are not against artistic freedom but would like to know what connection can be drawn between the gangrape victim and a goddess. Why is it that artists take liberty with certain communities and are careful not to hurt others.” Shivaji Vatkar of HJS said they would move court if Banik didn’t remove the pictures from her website.

Banik countered she had shown the Kali painting in India and in London without incident.

Incidentally Jehangir Art Gallery had urged her to remove a painting on the opening day of the exhibition on April 2. Gallery director K G Menon said, “We are mindful to not display artworks that can offend people’s religious sensibilities.Our staff found the canvas of Durga offensive and because children and senior citizens alike visit the gallery, we urged her to take it down. She chose not to do so, and on April 6, the HJS arrived to object.”

Inspector Sanjeev Mandlik of Colaba said the matter was “sorted out” between the artist and protestors.

“The painter felt she had the right to express herself while the HJS argued that self-expression did not include the right to offend religious sensibilities. We requested her to remove the artworks and she did,” Mandlik said.


Unconvincing #Aadhaar #UID

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

My reason for going to listen to Nandan Nilekani at an Indian Express ‘adda’ last week was because I believe his Aadhaar programme is a huge hoax on the people of India but I have an open mind and am prepared to be convinced otherwise. I see it as a hoax because I believe that taxpayer’s money that could be much better spent on rural schools, roads, hospitals and sanitation is being squandered on a scheme that, in my view, has no obvious benefits and that is too centralised and directionless to make a real difference to reducing poverty if this is its real goal. From long years of reporting in rural India the most important lesson I have learned is that it is locally controlled development schemes that work best. Any scheme that is designed in distant Delhi and controlled from there generally ends up by mostly benefiting corrupt officials. I very much fear that this will happen to Aadhaar once it starts being used to transfer vast quantities of cash for destitute beneficiaries.  But, I have known Nandan since the days when he was in charge of Infosys and so have always been eager to understand why he agreed to lend his name to something that could end up as one of the Indian government’s biggest and most expensive white elephants.

The ‘adda’ was organised on a balmy evening in the Olive Restaurant near the racecourse in Mumbai. We gathered in a courtyard where white wicker chairs had been set in a semi-circle under a tall and beautiful tree. As dusk fell a gentle breeze brought with it the scent of stables and birds nestled in the tree with loud screeches.  Guests from the world of commerce and journalism mingled over glasses of white and red wine and delicious canapés. Nandan was at his amiable best and greeted old friends from his days as a student in the IIT in this city. I chose to avoid mingling and concentrate instead on finding a place as close to the stage as possible so that I could be better positioned to ask Nandan a question or two. This turned out not to be such a good strategy because Nandan spotted me while he was expounding on the benefits of his Aadhaar scheme and informed the gathering that everyone thought Aadhaar was a good idea ‘except Tavleen’ thereby ambushing me before I could get to asking my question.

Mister India
Shekhar Gupta was in conversation with Nandan and gave me my chance to ask my questions soon enough. I asked Nandan to explain what he believed would be the main benefit of the Aadhaar scheme, when we should expect to see it happen and why he thought biometrics could work in rural India on such a massive scale when they did not work atLondon airport on a much smaller scale. The Iris machines at Heathrow are supposed to allow you in without needing to have your passport examined by an immigration officer but it has been my experience that they are nearly always out of order or fail to recognise me when they work. Nandan answered only the biometrics part of the question by saying that 300 million people had already been enrolled so this meant that the biometrics were working already. He said a million people were being registered for an Aadhaar number every day. He did not answer the rest of the question and I thought it would be churlish to point this out but the day after the ‘adda’ I went to the Aadhaar registration centre in Colaba to see if it was functioning any better than it did when I last went there some months ago.

At that time I made two efforts to register and somehow always ended up on a day when the centre was closed. So this time I sent someone to get the registration form for me in advance and was astonished to see that it was a two-page document on paper of such inferior quality that it would not survive a single year in a government file.  I wrote out my name, address and telephone number and last Monday went personally to the Colaba centre. It is in the dank, smelly basement of a municipal school and as far from modernity and biometrics as you can imagine. The small army of officials that man the centre work with rudimentary tools amid a scattering of cheap chairs and tables. A small wrought iron gate, that is permanently closed, separates them from the applicants queuing in the street outside.

Kafkaesque queues
When I joined the queue there were about fifty people ahead of me and they said they had been waiting a long time and did not think they would manage to register that day because there were signs that the centre was about to close. The man in front of me said, ‘I have come and queued here before and I have seen that they close fifteen minutes early and open fifteen minutes late. That is how it is every day.’ I asked why he wanted an Aadhaar card and he said it was because he had been told it was compulsory. When I talked to other people in the queue they confirmed that they were registering only because they had been told that if they did not then they would not be able to get cheap rations at government ration shops. They added that they had heard that it would not even be possible to get a passport without an Aadhaar card. They were people who seemed too poor to ever be able to travel to another country but what worried them was the possibility that they would lose their identity as Indian citizens.

In my own case I never got to hand in my registration form that morning because the centre closed before I could so I went back the next day and to my surprise found the centre closed. When I asked why it was closed two women officials said that the next date for accepting forms would be on Sunday at 10 a.m. Nobody explained why and so ended my fourth visit to this Aadhaar centre without having been able to take the first step towards getting my unique identification number. If my own experience is anything to go by it could take another two decades to register a billion Indians and by then people will have stopped wondering what the purpose of the scheme was in the first place.




#India- Your Aadhaar data is being misused by banks #mustshare #privacy #UID

Couple in Colaba were shocked when a bank sent a letter to their 10-yr-old daughter, without their knowledge or consent, saying an account had been opened in her name with details taken from UID

January 24, 2013
Naveen Nair

Heading out to enroll for a unique identity? Think twice before you provide your personal details while filling out the forms: the possibility of your personal details being leaked to a third party cannot be ruled out.

1: Applicants submit personal information of their family in the UID application form

Take for instance this couple based in Colaba, who were alarmed when a letter (see pic) arrived at their doorstep last week from the Indian Overseas Bank (IOB). It was addressed to their 10-year-old daughter, and claimed that a Savings Bank (SB) account had been opened under her name.

2: UID centre forwards the information to banks

The family is now racked with anxiety, having no clue how their personal data reached bank officials without their knowledge or consent. While the bank officials claim that the data is directly sent to them by the central government, UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) officials say that no such information is forwarded to the banks without the consent of the applicant.

3: Bank uses the information to open accounts and then informs the customer about it. Graphics/Amit Bandre

Surprise package
Reshma Puri and her daughter Anamika (names changed on request) had applied for Aadhaar cards around eight months ago. Both already had existing accounts with banks other than IOB. Imagine their shock last week when the mailman delivered the letter from IOB. The letter, posted from the Nariman Point branch of IOB, claimed that an SB account in Anamika’s name had been opened on October 13, 2012, based on her Aadhaar details. The letter further requested her to visit the branch within 15 days armed with her Aadhaar ID card, to complete the procedure and activate the account.


A worried Reshma said, “The current accommodation we live in is provided by the government, and is thus transferable. My husband and I were both present when we applied for our daughter’s Aadhaar card, and we made sure that all the details were entered correctly. We are sure that we did not give any consent for an account to be opened for our daughter in any bank.”

She added, “We are surprised to see that our personal details have reached IOB officials, and they have forcefully opened an SB account. How can the UIDAI decide to share our data with a random bank and what if the provided data is misused? Aren’t we risking our personal security by providing our personal details during enrolment?

It is a kind of spam wherein the government and its subsidiaries are misusing our private information.” The final paragraph of the letter from IOB letter further requests the applicant to furnish the names, addresses and occupations of friends and relatives, particularly those staying abroad, so that the bank may contact them.

Spam or data theft?
Acknowledging the concerns raised by the Puris, Vijay Mukhi, a cyber expert, said, “I don’t believe that the government directly provides such data to any banks, it is lower rank officials working at private agencies to whom the UID data collection work is outsourced. It is the sole responsibility of the government to ensure that it is not leaked.”

Asked if the use of private information for marketing activities would fit the definition of spam, Mukhi said, “Spam is a smaller issue, this is a clear-cut case of data theft and should be looked into more seriously.” He suggested that the government implement measures that prevent others from copying such information from the database.

Reshma further explained that since their current residence is transferable, any such letter addressed to her daughter may arrive at the address in future in their absence, and a stranger may use the letter and operate the account facilities using forged documents.

Bank clarifies
H Mahadev, regional vigilance officer (RVO), IOB, said, “The central government started this process of opening accounts linked to a person’s Aadhaar details about five months ago. The sole purpose of opening these accounts is to channelise the subsidies provided by the government to the Aadhaar cardholder. These accounts are generated directly and accommodated into our system and then bifurcated to respective branches based on the applicant’s residential address.”

He added, “The accounts are generated based on the consent provided by applicants at the time of his Aadhaar enrolment. If the applicant does not wish to operate this account, he or she should submit a letter mentioning the same.” Asked why details of friends and relatives were requested in the same letter, Mahadev said, “This is not part of the instruction provided by the central government. The respective branch may have included these requests as a part of their promotional activity.”

An official from the Nariman Point branch confirmed issuing a letter to Puri, saying, “We have received nearly 6,000 sets of data from our regional office and have randomly circulated letters to all the residents in our ward. Usually the account is expected to be opened in the name of the family’s head in order to avail of the government subsidy. Nearly 2,000 accounts have been activated and most of them are for local fishermen, who are likely to get their first subsidy by the year end.” Asked how a minor was sent the letter, the officer blamed it on system error, saying they are computer generated.

UIDAI’s take
Gurudutt Ray, assistant director general, UIDAI, said, “The central government does not directly open any accounts in a random nationalised bank. We do direct the banks to open an account linked to the Aadhaar details, if the applicant provides his consent for the same. In this case the applicant may have selected the option for opening a bank account linked to his Aadhaar number and IOB being in their vicinity, could have been directed to open the account.” Ray denied that personal data related to applicants is being provided to banks. He claimed that applicants have no obligation to activate the account.

Lawyers explain
No bank can unilaterally set up an account for you. In the case of minors, the guardian’s consent is necessary. If there is no consent, either express or implied, there is no way that an account can be set up that is basic contract law.
Aditya Ajgaonkar, Advocate

There are know your customer (KYC) norms framed by the Reserve Bank of India which clearly say the customer has to open a bank account. Moreover, how can they open up a bank account which has no initial deposit in it?
Jabbar Shaikh, Advocate



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