Parliamentary Panel asks govt for fresh law to give legality to UIDAI #Aadhaar #UID


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By PTI | 22 Apr, 2013,

 

 

 

NEW DELHI: Concerned over the functioning of UIDAI in its current form, a Parliamentary Panel today asked the government to come out with a fresh legislation to provide legality to the Authority.

 

 

“The Committee strongly feel that in the absence of legislation, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is discharging its functions without any legal basis,” the Standing Committee on Finance headed by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said while presenting a report in Parliament.

 

 

The Committee in its earlier reports had urged the government to reconsider and review the UID scheme to bring a fresh legislation before Parliament.

 

 

The Committee said it is also concerned that during the last three financial years (up to January, 2013), a huge sum of Rs 2,342 crore has been spent on the scheme and Rs 2,620 crore has been allocated in BE 2013-14, out of which Rs 1,040 crore is earmarked for ‘Enrolement Authentication and Updation’ pending legislative sanction of the scheme.

 

 

The Committee has asked about cost per card incurred by the government to generate Aadhaar cards by UIDAI.

 

 

That apart, the report said, despite an average growth rate of 7.9 per cent in the 11th Five Year Plan, there was no substantial increase in employment opportunities.

 

 

“The Committee are of the view that skill development is a highly serious area of concern and need to be given priority … The mismatch in terms of demand and supply of skilled workforce is widening rapidly.”

 

 

It said the government needs to more than double its existing skill training capacity of 45 lakh to achieve the ambitious target of skilling 5 crore people in the 12th Plan (2012-17) including 90 lakh in 2013-14. “The Committee also recommend that like Right to Education there should be compulsory skill development programme,” it said.

 

 

The Committee was, however, satisfied that 173 of centrally sponsored schemes (CSSs) at the end of 11th Plan will be restructured into 70 schemes. It will help streamline, restructure and rationalise such schemes to enhance their productiveness, it added.

 

Also, the Committee supported the 12th Plan’s goal for faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth. It said that to achieve the goal of sustainable growth, various schemes in field of health, education, water and protection of environment should be reviewed. It added that more funds should be allocated for treatment of cancer.

 

 

Among others, the Committee observed that the targets in the field of electricity generation, coal production and gas production could not be met during the 11th Plan. “The Committee also desire that an Action Plan may be formulated for giving thrust to renewable energy as an alternative source of power,” it said.

 

 

It also observed several deficiencies in implementation of Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana ( RGGVY) aimed at providing electricity to all rural households. It said that in certain states, even the minimum required hours of supply of six to eight hours of electricity could not be met.

 

 

“The Committee, therefore, recommend for the comprehensive review of the Scheme and rectification of deficiencies to ensure…improvement in supply of electricity.

 

 

 

 

Maharshtra – Aadhaar centres to function only on govt premises #UID


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, TNN | Apr 21, 2013, 02.02 AM IST

 

MUMBAI: The state government has now said that no Unique Identification (UID) card enrolment centres will be allowed on private premises, like housing societies or offices, because there are too few resources to register the huge number of people who remain to be enrolled in the city. Instead, UID – or Aadhaar – card centres will be only allowed in government premises, like schools, offices etc, so that the middle-and lower-middle-class population can be enrolled first.Civic officials said members of the middle and lower-middle classes need the UID card first as they are the beneficiaries of various government schemes for which the card will be mandatory.So far, 68% of the 1.25 crore population of Mumbai has been enrolled, which means approximately 70 to 80 lakh of the population has been covered and 45 to 55 lakh remains to be covered. The official deadline for registering the entire population is December 13.

“Now, with the enrolment drive picking up and resulting into a huge backlog due to the limited number of resources, the state has decided not to allow UID camps on private premises,” said a civic official. The state government had allowed setting up UID enrolment centres on private premises earlier so as to cover as much of the population as possible. At that time, the BMC had allowed camps in housing societies and private offices so that people residing or working there could be enrolled.

A UID card that is linked to a bank account would soon be required to avail of several government schemes, including getting a cooking cylinder subsidy, disbursement of provident fund for government employees and receiving free educational items for civic schools.

Currently, there are 145 BMC centres where enrolment is being conducted in the city. All are on government or semi-government premises. Over the next one month, the BMC is going to increase the number of centres to 470, as new vendors have come forward and the BMC has identified spots where new centres can be set up.

A centre in Kherwadi is being touted as the largest centre in the country, with 25 machines working simultaneously and enrolling 2,000 people a day.

The UID project is the brainchild of technocrat Nandan Nilekani. The card is expected to ensure that citizens get access to all schemes of government and local bodies. The government claims that the card will be important in the years to come as, for any dealing with the government, the card would be required to validate identity.

 

 

 

#India – Why is #Aadhaar being shoved down our throats? #UID


 

Why is Aadhaar being shoved down our throats?

 

At Tembhli village in Nandurbar district, a day before the launch of the UID in 2010.The village received the first numbers under the project.

At Tembhli village in Nandurbar district, a day before the launch of the UID in 2010.The village received the first numbers under the project.

by  Apr 15, 2013

 

Electoral logic is driving the UPA towards a patent illegality: forcing people to part with sensitive private information such as biometric data or finger-prints without having any law to protect privacy in place.

As things stand, getting yourself an Aadhaar card issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is voluntary; you are not legally bound to part with this information to anyone, leave alone the UIDAI. A report in The Times of India today also flags off privacy concerns and emphasises that citizens are essentially being “coerced” to get themselves an Aadhaar number.

Is Aadhaar effective? Image courtesy UIDAI

Is Aadhaar effective? Image courtesy UIDAI

 

At last count, nearly 320 million Indian residents have been enrolled under Aadhaar – and all of it despite a warning from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance which wanted the scheme shut down.

Driven by its own electoral compulsions, the Centre is pushing states to make Aadhaar the norm for every kind of entitlement so that it can proceed with its direct cash transfers (DCT) scheme before the next elections. Aadhaar is supposed to provide foolproof identification of subsidy beneficiaries and weed out duplications and bogus entries.

The UPA thinks DCT is a vote-winner and a game-changer. This is why late last year the Congress announced that scheme would cover the whole country by the end of 2013 after starting out with only a few schemes in 51 districts.

To convert Aadhaar into a voter ATM scheme, you need to roll it out really fast, since elections could happen either later this year or in April-May next year. To make sure that cash is given out to people using Aadhaar, you need bank accounts to be linked to this ID number, and also marry it with data from the ministries advocating these schemes.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram has already announced that cooking gas (LPG) subsidy is next on the list for coverage under Aadhaar and direct cash transfers, but the linkage to bank accounts is taking time. Banks, in fact, are not chary of depending too much on Aadhaar, and The Economic Times today reports that if money is transferred on the basis of this identification, anything going wrong should be the UIDAI’s responsibility.

Why this tearing hurry?

Cooking gas subsidy is a big ticket DCT initiative because of the amounts involved: subsidies amount to Rs 430-440 per cylinder at current international crude prices. Since each family is entitled to nine subsidised cylinders a year, a shift to DCT would mean putting nearly Rs 4,000 into the bank accounts of beneficiaries annually.

While the political advantages of giving money to voters in the name of economic efficiency is understandable, the UPA has completely lost sight of one simple thing: there is currently no legislation in place to make the Aadhaar scheme’s collection of private biometric data legal; even though the scheme is being promoted through administrative fiat, the fact that so much personal data will be obtained using private agents is giving privacy advocates sleepless nights.

In fact, there is a good reason to stop Aadhaar in its tracks—it is already supposed to have covered 320 million residents—before the project is put on a legal footing. Reason: there is simply no protection if your biometric data falls in the wrong hands and your ID has been commandeered by someone else.

A public interest litigation in the Supreme Court has challenged the constitutional validity of the UIDAI headed by former Infosys scion Nandan Nilekani. As Firstpost reported earlier, the petition alleges that “There is no regulatory mechanism to ensure that the data collected is not tampered with or remains secure. When there is no legislation, there is no offence in parting with this information. And when there is no offence, there can be security issues.”

Ankit Goel, one of the lawyers for the PIL, has gone on record to say that “the state is asking for biometrics of an individual. The mere asking of biometric data is encroaching into someone’s privacy. It is tantamount to phone tapping. Whereas in phone tapping there is legislation, there is no legislation here… In the absence of a law passed by Parliament there can’t be any collection of private information. This is against the law laid down by the Supreme Court.”

The parliamentary standing committee on finance headed by Yashwant Sinha, which looked at the National Identification Authority Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha, also came to the same conclusion: “Despite the presence of serious differences of opinion within the government on the UID scheme…the scheme continues to be implemented in an overbearing manner without regard to legalities and other social consequences.”

The committee rejected the bill, and Mint last December quoted Gurudas Dasgupta, MP, as saying that there was no need for it: “We found that the project is not necessary as there are many other ways of identification such as BPL (below the poverty line) card, voter identification card, etc. There is no merit in the project, it is just a wastage of government money.”

The point is this: isn’t it downright irresponsible for the UPA government to ask citizens to share vital personal information when there is such little political support for it and when there is no guarantee of how the information will be protected?

 

 

#India- Do you know why #Aadhaar – #UID is NOT compulsory #mustread


 

Ram Krishnaswamy

APRIL 15, 2013

This is a guest post by Ram Krishnaswamy For the last three years activists opposing Aadhaar/UID have argued that it can lead to communal targeting, can aid illegal migrants, can invade privacy, is unconstitutional, does not have parliamentary approval, is illegal, etc. Yet all such objections and more have been successfully stonewalled by UIDAI and UPA leaders.

Further, Aadhaar is not compulsory and so such allegations are considered invalid. The middle and upper class Indians have remained silent about the UID debate, as it does not affect them in the least. The long lines of persons stretching before UID enrollment centers must be proof, then, of the popularity of this concept.

Nandan Nilekani and UIDAI Director General R.S Sharma have repeatedly told the nation that UID, now called Aadhaar, is not mandatory. Yet, over a period of time, they say, it could become ubiquitous, if service providers insist upon it compulsorily, in order to receive their services. To quote UIDAI Chairman, Nandan Nilekani, “Yes, it is voluntary. But the service providers might make it mandatory. In the long run I wouldn’t call it compulsory. I’d rather say it will be come ubiquitous.”

From the time GOI toyed with the idea of a Unique Identity number for the poor and the marginalized Indian population, the nation has been told Aadhaar is not compulsory.

Ever wondered why?

One question activists have never asked is, “Why is Aadhaar not compulsory?”

The reason is so obvious, and staring us in the face all along, yet no one seems to have picked it up. This question throws more light on what is going on and why.

On the very face of it, both these schemes “UID/NPR and Cash Transfers” echo Mohammad Bin Tughlaq – the wisest fool in India’s history so far. Schemes like these are not the way to build a great nation; indeed they may be exactly the way to create a generation of paupers. Poverty was “good” until the time the poor had the dignity to fight it out and move up the ladder. Pauperization however, would kill the very consciousness and self-dignity critical for a nation of 1 billion plus to survive and march forward.

The history of the human race suggests that master position-holders always wanted some form of identification of their slaves. The slave’s name and family links were not adequate. Galley slaves had the letters GAL burnt into their arms. In imperial Russia the Katorshniki (public slaves) were branded in a grisly manner – the letters KAT being punctured on their cheeks and forehead; and gunpowder rubbed into their wounds. In several countries, slaves had their heads shorn, except for a pigtail from the crown. The shorn head was symbolic of castration, loss of manliness, power and freedom. Slavery is one of the most extreme forms of the relation of domination approaching the limits of total power from the view point of the master and the total powerlessness from the view point of the slave. All power strives for authority.

In the current context in India, the “Master” is the State, which suggests that the poor need just Rs 32 a day to survive, while the bourgeois masters can afford to spend Rs 500 for a meal. The “slaves” are the Indian population living below poverty levels, who are told that, unless you have a number linked to finger prints, you will not be allowed to avail subsidised grain at Rupees 3 a kilo. A slave in India today is a socially dead person who can be identified only by a number issued by the master, and not his/her  paternity, or maternity, or other social links to the world.

The question that many activists have often been asked is, “Why should you worry about privacy, if you do not have anything to hide?” The corollary to this question just hit me today, “People who have something to hide certainly do not want a Unique Identity number which is linked to their biometrics, meaning their fingerprints and iris scan.”

Recent sting operations suggest that many banks in India facilitate money laundering allowing corrupt individuals with black money to convert them into white money without the person’s identity being questioned. It is amazing how easily the bankers assist in converting unaccounted black money to white. Now imagine how the corrupt in India would react to Aadhaar being compulsory. The Aadhaar number and associated biometrics can be used by law enforcement agencies to link and expose all hidden stashes, not only in India but even in Swiss banks and Singapore banks, now that Singapore is the haven for parking illegal funds.

If Aadhaar is made compulsory over time, the associated biometrics could be used to expose all corrupt bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen, making them all vulnerable.  Surely the government does not want to facilitate such a monster. That is why Aadhaar is not compulsory. It is time for all activists to challenge UIDAI Chairman and UPA II government to make Aadhaar compulsory, and help flush out the cancer that is eating the nation from within.

Mr Nilekani, once you asked the question, “What am I? A virus?”

Prove to us you are not a virus, by making Aadhaar compulsory for all Indians, rich and poor, and show us that your Imagining India was a genuine attempt to serve the nation.

Surely you do not want to facilitate a system where all people are equal, except some people are more equal than others, and have the right to decline an Aadhaar. But rest assured, the day UIDAI and GOI make Aadhaar compulsory, the nation, meaning the rich and powerful, will show you their true colours regarding UID.

As a Nation we should join hands and ask UPA II the question:

“Why is Aadhaar not compulsory ?”

Why does Aadhaar discriminate the haves and have-nots creating a new caste system that will further divide an all ready fragmented country?

Aadhaar is not compulsory so that low life criminal elements like murderers, rapists, embezzlers, tax avoiders, income tax fraudsters, corrupt bureaucrats and politicians and even potential terrorists can continue fearlessly, without  Aadhaar & biometrics to elude law enforcement.

Here are a few notable quotes from people opposing Aadhaar: 

  • “NPR & UID aiding Aliens” – Narendra Modi
  • “UID may aid Communal Targetting” – Aruna Roy & Nikhil Dey, NAC Members
  • “Unique Identity Scheme will take away the Privacy of Indian Citizens” – Mathew Thomas
  • “UID Project Will Make Constitution Of India A Dead Document” – S.G.Vombatkere
  • “Aadhaar will institutionalise Poverty” – Ram Krishnaswamy
  • “UID project is full of ambiguity, confusions and suspicions, but no answers” – Usha Ramanathan
  • “Aadhaar is UIDAI’s unsolicited Testimonials to the Biometric Industry” – David Moss, UK
  • “It is a Bad Idea to Marry UID with NREGA” – Reetika Khera
  • “Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government” – Home Minister Chidambaram
  • “Aadhaar is not compulsory — it is just a voluntary “facility.” UIDAI’s concept note stresses that “enrolment will not be mandated.” But there is a catch: “… benefits and services that are linked to the UID will ensure demand for the number.” This is like selling bottled water in a village after poisoning the well, and claiming that people are buying water voluntarily. The next sentence is also ominous: “This will not, however, preclude governments or registrars from mandating enrollment.” – Jean Dreze, Visiting Prof of Economics, Uni of Allahabad, Ex-NAC Member
  • “Aadhaar was meant to deduplicate peoples ID’s and Aadhaar itself is a Duplicate of NPR and needs deduplication” – Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) headed by Secretary Sumit Bose.
  • “Nilekani’s technocratic obsession with gathering data is consistent with that of Bill Gates as though lack of information is what is causing world hunger” – Arundhati Roy
  • “Which is the bigger crime, a poor family double dipping on PDS to stay alive, or Govt wasting mega bucks on a white elephant called Aadhaar?” – Ram Krishnaswamy
  • “In Reality, Aadhaar intrudes into peoples privacy that is hidden under the guise of reaching out” – Srijit Misra
  • “Privacy is not something that people feel, except in its absence. Remove it and you destroy something at the heart of being human” –  Phil Booth, No2ID
  • “The UID is a corporate scam which funnels billions of dollars into the IT sector” – Arundhati Roy
  • “Aadhaar is Built on a Platform of Myths” – R. RamaKumar
  • “If our Government is selling the Country, then we should know at least who they are selling it to” – Veeresh Malik
  • “UID is a ‘Unique Indian Donkey’ that will collapse under the load” – Ram Krishnaswamy
  • The strongest voice opposing finger printing was raised by none other than Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation who said, “Let us begin by being clear… about General Smuts’ new law. All Indians must now be fingerprinted… like criminals. Men and women. No marriage other than a Christian marriage is considered valid. Under this act our wives and mothers are whores. And every man here is a bastard.”


But then, who in UPA II even remembers Mahatma Gandhi today, leave alone what he said in South Africa?

 

Ram Krishnaswamy is an IIT Madras alumnus living in Sydney who has opposed UID/Aadhaar since 2009 and hosts Aadhaar Articles Blog Spot (http://aadhararticles.blogspot.com.au/)

 

Identity crisis on cards as crunch hits #Aadhaar #UID


Vaivasvat Venkat, TNN | Apr 12, 2013, 04.47 AM IST
LUDHIANA: Getting an Aadhar card made has become a problem for many residents in the city as most of them are not even aware of the centres where these Aadhar cards are being made. Absence of requisite staff and the enrolment kits used for making the cards is a major problem plaguing the project.”I have been hearing so much about the Aadhar card and how it is going to be a must in the coming times. However, the biggest problem for me is that I do not know where I should go to get this card made. It’s not only me facing this predicament as many of my friends too are encountering the same problem,” said TP Singh from GurdevNagar.
Advocate Yogesh Dewan, a resident of Model Town, also complained that he has not been able to get his card made as he does not know where it is made. “If at all the government is serious about making these cards, the work should be done in a proper manner. Area-wise centres should be opened at fixed places so that people know where to get the cards made without any hassle.”
When approached on the issue, District Food and Civil Supplies officer Lavkesh Sharma said, “Though we have many problems, work on the cards is being carried out. Wherever there are problems, we will definitely solve them.”

 

#India – The Aadhaar Card – How Safe Is YOUR Data? #UID #privacy


social-media-privacy
Thursday, Apr 11, 2013,
Berges Malu  , DNA , April 11, 2013

Applying for an Aadhar Card is a privacy nightmare.

 

 

 

 

 

The need for me to have an Aadhar card continues to have me flummoxed. But after a lot of cajoling from my parents and friends, I decided to go ahead and apply for a card at an enrollment camp that was set up at the University I study at. What I experienced has left me a wee bit stunned on how and what exactly our government that is well known more for its goof ups than its successes has rolled up their sleeve for Aadhar cardholders and how they plan to keep this entire mammoth machinery running.

 

Thankfully unlike the royal run around I was made to go through for my passport, the process to get my Aadhar card was an absolute breeze.  My companion and I deposited our forms in the morning, got a token number and in the evening we headed over to the enrollment center, stood in a rather short queue and were out with a smile about 15 minutes later. But while the process was a breeze and I had no complaints about the promptness of the entire process, how my data was handle left me questioning the entire identification process.

 

To start with, the agent there, never once took a look at the copies of documents I was submitting as proof of identity. He only checked it, to confirm my father’s name. He never bothered to check if the documents were indeed true copies or just well made out photo-shopped documents, and he never asked to see the originals. He didn’t bother to ask me if I wanted to link my Aadhar card to an existing bank account and thankfully on his own never ticked the part about my information being shared to other authorities.

 

He then went on to dump these loosely stapled bunch of documents into a carton that I have no clue was headed where. Here was a pile of very valuable personal data, that included everything from my date of birth, address, educational qualifications and I had no clue what was to happen of it. One needn’t worry about what the government would do with the data fed into the system, its what could happen to the hard information that was in this carton, almost every bit of our lives was ready for an identity thief to come by and pick up.

 

A recent article in MiDDAY (http://goo.gl/ZL5WG) reported that copies of the compulsory documents that were submitted by residents in a Mumbai colony as proof of identity etc as well as hard copies of the forms, were left behind by the agency that filed the data and no one had picked it up. This after the residents had already received their Aadhar cards.

 

What I also noticed was, of the two agents stationed at the enrollment center, the woman (who managed the enrollment of women) didn’t speak a word of either English or Hindi, she only spoke Telugu, while the enrollment of data is done in English. Now while there is nothing wrong in speaking only the language of your state (and God knows how big a proponent I am of every citizen living in Maharashtra learning Marathi), entering in data of individuals in a language other than your is surely not your best forte, and as was bound to happen, almost every woman who went over was locked in a battle with her trying to get her to correct the umpteen goof ups she made.  Makes me wonder why I shouldn’t be surprised that many Aadhar cards are turning up with images of Trees, dogs and other pets as was reported recently? (http://goo.gl/tCUgG)

 

Which left me wondering, if my data at primary source is being dealt with in such a lackadaisical manner, what would happen once it reaches the government and how careful will they be with all of this?

 

 

#Mumbai – Illegal permission granted to a jain community to generate #aadhaar cards. #UID


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RTI-INDIA TEAM,
Recently, on 6th of March’13, we came to know that the Shri xxxxxxx (ParelMumbai) had organized an unauthorized / illegal Aadhaar enrollment center in Parel .Since they claimed to our local residents that they had taken a special permission from the concerned departments, for this enrollment for their Jain community only, which was opened up to 2230 hrs, so some local residents got suspicious about their moves, after proper investigation we found out that they were charging Rs.200/- per head for the same, when approached and demanded the permission letter, they were not in a position to produce, so we had to inform the police authorities, who arrived and seized their gadgets/ deleted all the data and registered a complaint against them.
The UIDAI had launched this Aadhaar program to provide a unique ID number to all citizen of India, where this enrollment is free of cost, this is totally against the law under the Planning Commission, Govt. of India.
Sirs, if such unauthorized organization are given powers as the Planning Commission Dept or their nominated agencies,surely there will be duplications and fake identities.
Appreciate, if our crusaders can guide me to get this incident noticed to proper departments through your valuable support.
Await for your favorable response to ahead with this matter.
Pleased to hear.
Rgds / Arnold Lobo
Member of RTI – INDIA

source- http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/110810-illegal-permission-granted-jain-community-parel-mumbai-generate-aadhaar-cards.html

 

 

 

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 the UPA Reluctant to debate and Legislate ? #UID #Aadhaar


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By- Politically Incorrect at  http://centreright.in/

What is so wrong about the UID project? It isn’t like the Government is asking for details that are not publicly available or which we haven’t furnished to tax authorities or for getting a driving license. In these days of social media where all our details are there for everyone to see, don’t you think we are being unnecessarily suspicious of a project which merely seeks to create an identity database?“…

This is the standard reaction whenever anyone questions the legitimacy of the UID project. And the problem is most people; even the educated ones find these questions fair enough to not probe the issue any further. They draw a sense of security from the fact that these details are sought, not by a private player who wants to pester you with constant calls about insurance plans or housing loans, but by the Government.

Despite all the scams and scandals that have plagued the UPA regime, people do not seem to be asking a few basic questions:

  1. I don’t care what you need my details for, but what is your power to ask for these details? Quo Warranto?
  2. Why are these details being sought through a simple notification? Why is there no legislation to govern this exercise?
  3. Assuming I am satisfied that you have the power to seek the information through a notification, what use will the information be put to? Is the use/objective a specific one, or is it as vague as it gets?
  4. Is there enough co-relation between the amount of information sought and the objective it is sought for?
  5. Are the means for collection of the information reasonably fool-proof? Or are you relying on hearsay to verify/authenticate my details?
  6. Is the technology used to verify my identity, robust enough to distinguish between me and an inanimate object?
  7. How are you going to keep the information safe? Do you have enough technological and legislative safeguards to protect my privacy?

Before I proceed to address some of these issues, here’s bit of history on the UID project. The concept of national identification is not the brainchild of the UPA. This was conceived of by and under the NDA regime, and was christened the Multipurpose National Identity Card (MNIC) scheme as part of the BJP’s IT vision. The BJP’s proposed method was to amend the Citizenship Act to make it mandatory for citizens to have the ID card as proof of citizenship.

Clearly the object was to stem the rot of illegal immigration into the country and prevent the creation of a lebensraum. Little did the BJP realize that the very same project would be employed by the UPA to further the cause of illegal immigration and consolidation of vote banks? How exactly does the UID aid this patently anti-national agenda will be discussed, among other things, as part of this series of posts.

Based on the material available publicly, it appears that once the UPA smelled yet another opportunity to increase the numbers of its most pampered vote bank, it went about the issue of national identification in the most surreptitious way possible, which only the UPA is capable of.

In stark contrast to the BJP’s proposal to amend the Citizenship Act to provide for a national identification scheme, the UPA chose to constitute an executive body called the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) without mooting a legislation or debate. To lend respectability to the UIDAI, Mr.Nandan Nilekani was appointed as the Chairman of the UIDAI (who will probably be the fall guy if things go wrong with the UIDAI, which I expect them to.)

The UIDAI was expected to function as an extension of the Planning Commission, and was charged with the duty of drawing up policies and plans for the UID scheme, implementing the scheme and was to “own and operate the UID database and be responsible for its updating and maintenance on an ongoing basis“.

The question is why was the executive route opted for without a thought being spared for parliamentary processes which ought to be the option of first choice on topics which have serious implications for privacy, demographics and consequently national security?

When the same question was put to the Ministry of Planning by the Parliamentary Standing Committee chaired by Shri Yashwant Sinha, following was the response from the Ministry:

“Based on the proposal that formation of the UIDAI under the Planning Commission would ensure better coordination with different departments, it was decided that initially the UIDAI may be notified as an executive authority under the Planning Commission and the issue of investing the UIDAI with statutory authority and the reconciliation of such statutory role with National Registration Authority (NRA) can be considered at an appropriate time.”

What on earth is this supposed to mean? Are considerations, such as ease of administration and coordination, supposed to prevail over fundamentals such as the need for legislative approval and statutory safeguards to protect identities of the citizens?

What surprises me is the sequence of events:

  1. The UIDAI is constituted on January 28, 2009 under the stewardship of Nandan Nilekani, and the process of issuing “Aadhaar” numbers/Unique ID numbers was kick-started.
  2. In December 2010, almost 2 years after the UIDAI was set up, the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 (NIDAI Bill) is introduced in the Rajya Sabha.
  3. During the pendency of the Bill, Aadhaar numbers continue be issued. In fact, the scope of the activity was expanded from Below Poverty line families to include all residents and categories of individuals.

If the intention behind introducing NIDAI Bill was to seek the Parliament’s imprimatur, where was the need to continue issuing Aadhaar numbers, considering the Bill could be rejected by both houses of the Parliament? What about the taxpayers’ money that was being spent on an exercise which could ultimately be held unconstitutional by the Parliament, and hence rejected? Also, what was the legal basis for setting up of UIDAI and issuance of Aadhaar numbers?

When these questions were posed to the Ministry of Planning by Shri Yashwant Sinha, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, the buck was passed on to the legal clearance given by the Ministry of Law and Justice through the Attorney General of India. Below is the opinion of the Attorney General:

“The competence of the Executive is not limited to take steps to implement the law proposed to be passed by Parliament. Executive Power operates independently. The Executive is not implementing the provisions of the Bill. The Authority presently functioning under the Executive Notification dated 28th January, 2009 is doing so under valid authority and there is nothing in law or otherwise which prevents the Authority from functioning under the Executive Authorisation.

The power of Executive is clear and there is no question of circumventing Parliament or the Executive becoming a substitute of Parliament. On the contrary, what is sought to be done is to achieve a seamless transition of the authority from an Executive Authority into a statutory authority.

All the expenditure which is being incurred is sanctioned by Parliament in accordance with the financial procedure set forth in the Constitution. If the Bill is not passed by any reason and if Parliament is of the view that the Authority should not function and express its will to that effect, the exercise would have to be discontinued. This contingency does not arise.

The present Bill being implemented without Parliament’s approval does not set a bad precedent in the Parliamentary form of Government. On the contrary, the fact that the Authority is sought to be converted from an Executive Authority to a statutory authority; it underlines the supremacy of Parliament.”

Let’s demystify the response. The Attorney General was of the opinion that the UIDAI could legitimately function under “Executive Authorisation” without legislation. Assuming this is the correct position of the law (which I will explore in detail in the next post), where was the need to introduce the NIDAI Bill? Simply put, if the Government was of the opinion that it was well within its rights to create the UIDAI without having to approach the Parliament, then why introduce a Bill subsequently?

The opinion of the Attorney General is inherently contradictory. On one hand, he categorically states that UIDAI’s creation and functioning under “Executive Authorization” was within the bounds of the Constitution. And on the other, he states- “If the Bill is not passed by any reason and if Parliament is of the view that the Authority should not function and express its will to that effect, the exercise would have to be discontinued”

How can both these views hold water simultaneously? Clearly, something is wrong somewhere and the mandarins in the Ministry of Law and Justice did not think this through.

As for the expenditure, the answer is really baffling and cryptic. What did the Attorney General mean when he said “This contingency does not arise”? Was he saying that the NIDAI Bill was so watertight that the Parliament would not reject it? What was the basis for such confidence? If he was cognizant of the possibility of the Bill being rejected, doesn’t this mean the expenditure incurred in the UIDAI’s functioning and issuance of Aadhaar numbers was a total waste, which could and ought to have been avoided?

Extracted below is the observation and recommendation of Shri Yashwant Sinha on the Bill:

13. In view of the afore-mentioned concerns and apprehensions about the UID scheme, particularly considering the contradictions and ambiguities within the Government on its implementation as well as implications, the Committee categorically convey their unacceptability of the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 in its present form. The data already collected by the UIDAI may be transferred to the National Population Register (NPR), if the Government so chooses. The Committee would, thus, urge the Government to reconsider and review the UID scheme was also the proposals contained in the Bill in all its ramifications and bring forth a fresh legislation before Parliament.”

 

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