Press Release- Questionable and illegal UIDAI completes four years #UID #Aadhaar #mustshare


 

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200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere, VSM tell President that UID is extra-legal, unethical, coercive

 

 

 

New Delhi, 28 Jan, 2013: Prime Minister headed Cabinet Committee on UID related matters (CCUIDRM) which also deal with National Population Register (NPR) has ensured that Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) continues to complete its four years of existence without any legal basis and without disclosing that UID database and NPR database is being merged with the electoral database. UIDAI was created by a notification of Planning Commission dated January 28, 2009.The notification is attached.

 

 

 

As of as on January 2, 2013, Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of India related issues includes Prime Minister, Sharad Pawar, Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Food Processing Industries, P. Chidambaram, Minister of Finance, Sushilkumar Shinde, Minister of Home Affairs, Mallikarjun Kharge, Minister of Labour and Employment, Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Kumari Selja, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development, Ajay Maken, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Ashwani Kumar, Minister of Law and Justice with Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission and Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, UIDAI as Special Invitees.

 

The notification refers to an ‘approved strategy’ which has not been disclosed to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance and the Parliament. It appears that the fake rift that was created for media consumption, for citizens and dissenting States like Gujarat remains a part of the strategy. The terms of reference in the notification is revealing.

 

Documents of key industry bodies available in public domain indicate that this strategy comprises of converging National Intelligence Grid that has been set up as an attached office of the Ministry of Home Affairs in April, 2010 to link databases for constructing actionable intelligence accessing about two dozen categories of data sources including UID, NPR, Census and electoral database besides property database.

 

If citizens, Parliament, Courts and State legislatures scrutinize the ‘Strategic Vision on the UIDAI Project’ that was prepared and submitted to the processes committee of the Planning Commission (set up in July 2006) by Wipro Ltd (consultant for the design phase and programme management phase of the pilot UIDAI project), they may get sufficient reason to dismantle the project. This vision document is missing. It was not shared with the Parliamentary Committee on Finance which rejected the UID project and Bill. The last clause of the National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill, 2010 for UID revealed how UID related initiatives and plans are meant to make democratic institutions redundant or rubber stamps.

 

As per the website of Cabinet Secretariat, the function of CCUIDAI includes, “All issues relating to the Unique Identification Authority of India including its organization, plans, policies, programmes, schemes, funding and methodology to be adopted for achieving the objectives of that Authority.” Source:http://cabsec.nic.in/showpdf.php?type=council_cabinet_committees

 

It appears that CCUIDRM member, P Chidamabaram and his colleagues in this Committee have managed to outsmart all the political parties including likes of Narendra Modi and Yashwant Sinha and left government in Tripura both in his role as Home Minister and now in his role a Finance Minister.

 

Another 15-page document of Wipro, titled ‘Does India need a Unique Identity Number?’, cited the example of UK’s Identity Cards Act, 2006 on page no. 6 to advance the argument on UID number in India.  Now that UK’s new government has abandoned its National Identity Cards Scheme and has announced it in the British Parliament.

 

Is it the case that when UK implements national identity cards scheme, it should be cited as an example, but when it abandons the programme, it becomes irrelevant and illogical?

 

Why are Wipro, UIDAI, the Planning Commission and the prime minister silent about their UK example?

 

Is it not conflict of interest that after submitting the ‘Strategic Vision on the UIDAI Project’ (which is missing), Wipro has been getting contracts from UIDAI for ‘Deployment of 7 project managers, supply, installation, commissioning for hardware – software for data centre at Bengaluru & NCR, deployment of 32 resource personnel and monitoring tools and hiring of data centre space (2,000 sq ft) & facilities for UIDAI at Delhi/NCR.’ From December 2010 till May 2011, it has got four contracts amidst reports of irregularities.

 

It is noteworthy that besides Supreme Court, writ petitions are pending in Mumbai, Chennai and an appeal is pending in Karnataka too questioning the legality and constitutionality of UID related projects.

 

Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) demands that  CCUIDRM must disclose its ‘approved strategy’ & ‘Strategic Vision on the UIDAI Project’ document.

 

Some 38 contracts have been awarded to various companies including US and French biometric technology companies but these contract documents are not in public domain. There is documented circumstantial evidence that appears to show contracts succeed or precede UIDAI officials being awarded in places like Milan, Italy in the way Pakistan’s concerned officials have been awarded by World Identification Summit/Congress sponsored by US entities like AB Notes Corporations, the agency that prints currency and French entities like Safran Group housed in Hindustan Times Building, New Delhi. The latter has got several contracts from UIDAI. Interestingly, publications from this building have openly declared themselves to be supporters of UID-Aadhhar.

 

In a related development, in a letter to the President of India Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd) expressed grave objections against mandatory UID Aadhaar scheme which is extra-legal, unethical and coercive.

 

 

 

Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere has raised questions about biometrics, data security and privacy saying, “It remains unclear, even doubtful, whether biometry-information technology – the technological cornerstone of the project – is capable of the gigantic task of de-duplication in a billion-plus population. This is true in view of UIDAI’s Biometrics Standards Committee itself having noted that retaining biometric efficiency for a database of more than one billion persons “has not been adequately analysed” and the problem of fingerprint quality in India “has not been studied in depth”. Further, it is well established that fingerprints of people who do manual work are often worn out or even missing, as with rural agricultural workers or urban domestic workers. These people, who are in enormous numbers and declared beneficiaries of the UID Aadhaar scheme, will not be able to receive social and other benefits even if they succeed in enrolling into the UID Aadhaar scheme.”

 

 

 

In his letter, he observes, “The security of biometric data and other information acquired by UIDAI is in question for the following reasons: 2.2.3.1 The UID Aadhaar system can provide the link between various data bases and it will inevitably be at the core of a system which will enable profiling and tracking any citizen, to serve the clandestine purposes of India’s security or intelligence agencies, or to corporate business interests.”

 

 

 

He says, “If biometric data and other information of people falls into the hands of unauthorized agencies, personal privacy is unequivocally compromised. The fact that UIDAI has no answer to the security hazards pointed out to it, and is silent or evasive on the subject, does not inspire confidence in the capability of UIDAI or the UID Aadhaar system to maintain personal privacy rights. This is quite apart from the plethora of scientific data available that shows how fingerprints are not reliable indicators of unique identity. In view of all the foregoing, I fear for violation of my personal right to privacy by enrolling into the UID Aadhaar scheme.”

 

 

 

He has urged the President of India saying, “I urgently and earnestly request you to 3.3.1 Issue immediate, unambiguous orders to the concerned union ministries and state

 

governments, that making UID Aadhaar enrolment necessary for receiving rightful entitlements like pension and salary, and food-and-water, health, education, civil supplies and other welfare benefits, be stopped with immediate effect.” The UID project or Aadhaar was supposed to be a scheme to eliminate corruption in welfare schemes and provide an identity to the poor. It is now intruding into citizens lives and rights. Several demonstrations have shown that there are intrinsic and extrinsic flaws inherent in biometrics.

 

 

 

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), New Delhi, Mb: 9818089660, E-mail: krishna1715@gmail.com

 

 

 

Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) has been campaigning against unregulated biometric, surveillance and identification technology companies since 2010 and had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee, Finance in this regard. CFCL has consistently underlined that the silence of the States which are quite vocal about threats to federal structure from Union Home Ministry‘s National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) that integrates 21 sets of databases in the matter of the creation of UID’s Centralized Identities Data Register (CIDR) disregarding the fact that Planning Commission’s CIDR and Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR) is inexplicable.

 

 

#India- Its All Quid, neither pro nor quo #Aadhaar #UID #privacy #Law


It is odd that an initiative like UIDAI, with its vast implications, should be uncontrolled by any legislation

 

Gautam Patel, Mumbai mirror

Posted On Friday, January 25, 2013

Important message for Savings Account holders having Aadhaar / UID number issued by UIDAI” says the message on my bank’s online banking page. I follow the link. “You can now link your Aadhaar / UID Number to your Savings Account to avail the benefits of Government subsidies/payments directly into your bank account,” I am told. How nice. Problem is I don’t “avail of Government subsidies/payments”.

So why would I need an Aadhaar card? And what are the chances that someone who is entitled to a government subsidy would be able to get online to see this message in the first place? The Unique Identification Authority of India is not a corporation, not a government body. It is just a scheme of the Planning Commission. And it has, with quite unusual zest and zeal, set about the gargantuan task of “mapping” everybody in India, providing every single person with a unique identification number. But, as we all know, this is much more than a casual mapping. It is a full-fledged biometric database with fingerprints, photographs, addresses and more.

In some State-level variants, you can link your bank accounts to this database. The general idea, a brainchild of Mr Nandan Nilekani, is to cut through India‘s Byzantine bureaucracy and deliver government subsidies and grants to those intended, side-stepping all the money-grubbing talons en route. That sounds sensible and fair and, and perhaps in an ideal world, one in which we might be able to trust each other and those we put in power, transformative. Mr Nilekani’s vision is utopian; reality? Not so much. That an initiative so vast in its implications, its spending and its ambition should be uncontrolled by any legislation is more than a little odd.

There is no statute to control how this information can be used or by whom and under what conditions. There is no legislation, and there is also no parliamentary or judicial supervision. What is the remedy to a citizen who finds his information has been misused? Who is to be held responsible, and how, and under what law? How is it even possible to start the implementation of something along these lines without some formal structure? The UID enrolment scheme, though said to be ‘voluntary’, is aimed squarely at becoming non-optional. When banks and financial institutions start insisting on Aadhaar cards, we will be left with no choice.

This is one material distinction between, say, a passport or a driving license and an Aadhaar card. You can swan through life without a passport or a driving license. Proponents of the UID/Aadhaar scheme tell us that there is no cause for worry; passport-issuing authorities and transport officials collect pretty much the same information. Indeed they do, and passports even have a unique file number from which every bit of information can be retrieved.

The difference lies in points of access; who can access this information. The stuff that’s in government files isn’t open to banks and isn’t accessible except under regulated conditions. This is why so much information needs to be replicated. Once all this information is made available in a centralized database to a whole slew of agencies and, worse, private operators (not just banks; there’s no reason your path lab or favourite fast joint shouldn’t have it too – it is, after all, “only an id”) then we’re in the world of Eye-See-You.

An even simpler question. We give the UIDAI all this information. In return for what? What is the quid pro quo? This scheme only makes sense if you’re eligible for subsidies, grain, anywhere in a public distribution system. What if you’re not? And I already have sufficient ‘identification’.

Do I need one more card? And where does it say that this one card will replace them all? The one thing that the scheme greatly enables is the government snooping on citizens. When researchers and scholars like Usha Ramanathan point to these – and a myriad other – problems with the scheme, they are not being merely alarmist or obtuse. They are raising very fundamental issues of the meaning of liberty in the context of our polity.

Whether or not this spying is actually happening is not the point; the UID system facilitates it, and in the hands of an errant government is capable of the most egregious abuse. On the rare occasions we are moved to speak of liberty, we only do so by calling it a right. It is much more. Like the air we breathe, it is essential to survival, an undefinable hard won, easily lost, and under constant threat.

The deadliest assaults are the ones that come up in stealth, disguised as progress and achievement and the pledge of universal prosperity. The brightness of these promises blinds us to what lurks darkly beneath: that dreadful gaping, fanged maw of the state, a creature with an insatiable appetite for control and dominion. Nobody doubts Mr Nilekani’s intentions, ideals or integrity; all are beyond reproach. But as Cervantes tells us, idealists are not the wisest of men. For all their inefficiency and replication and nuisance, those free-standing silos of information we now have do not demand of us the much too heavy price of such idealism.

 

#India- Urban poor to be identified on vulnerabilities


By , TNN | Jan 14, 2013, 04.36 AM IST

NEW DELHI: The urban poor will now be identified on the basis of social, economic and occupational vulnerabilities as the housing and poverty alleviation ministry has decided to junk the Planning Commission‘s income benchmark.

As of now, families earning below Rs 4,824 a month are put in the bracket of urban poor.

The move comes as the ministry is finding it difficult to identify beneficiaries in metropolises and other cities, where few families earn below the BPL cutoff while many of them live in vulnerable conditions.

It has also been noticed that income certificates are forged or are being procured after bribing officials.

As the socio-economic census is going on across the country, the ministry is working on a mechanism according to which urban poor will be defined according to people’s vulnerabilities. Under the mechanism, families will be divided into two groups — those automatically included the other automatically excluded — in the poverty bracket.

Those automatically included in the poverty bracket will be the homeless and jobless. Automatically excluded will be families with a pakka house, motor vehicle or electronic appliances such as air-conditioner or refrigerator.

Those included will be graded by the ministry on the basis of economic, social, occupational and housing vulnerabilities. Based on data from the caste census, families will be graded and assigned points according to their needs.

“The formula will help in identifying poor in terms of vulnerabilities and government schemes will target the vulnerable group. It will result in better targeting,” housing and urban poverty alleviation minister Ajay Makentold TOI, adding that the identification of urban poor will be based on the recommendations of the Hashim committee.

“Those living in slums will automatically be eligible for benefits under the slum-rehabilitation scheme,” the minister said.

The new mechanism is also aimed at ensuring distribution of benefits of government schemes to city-specific “vulnerable” basket as per the specific needs in a particular city.

If a family scores very high on the housing vulnerability index, it would be given priority under slum upgradation schemes and Rajiv Awas Yojana, an official said.

Once the census is complete, the city-specific urban poor basket will be ready. “We will take it up with other ministries also to adopt the new criteria,” Maken said.

 

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Draft Twelfth Five Year Plan 2012-17 Planning Commission GOI, can be downloaded


DRAFT  Twelfth Five Year Plan 2012-17 Planning Commission  Government of India, you can download now
http://planningcommission.gov.in/plans/planrel/12thplan/welcome.html

NDC meeting on 12th plan on 27 Dec

Plan document says the govt’s cash transfer programme will be a major step towards improving efficiency
Kirthi Rao , livemint.com
First Published: Wed, Dec 05 2012. 

The government envisages ‘adoption of a target to move major subsidies and major beneficiary payments to a cash basis linked to Aadhar by the end of the 12th Plan period. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
The government envisages ‘adoption of a target to move major subsidies and major beneficiary payments to a cash basis linked to Aadhar by the end of the 12th Plan period. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: The 12th Plan document moved a step closer to approval by the apex decision-making authority of the country, the National Development Council (NDC), with the draft being posted on the plan panel’s website for discussion.
The NDC meeting is to be held on 27 December, the link on the plan panel website said. Media reports had earlier said the document would be discussed on 29 December.
The document targets 8.2% growth in the five years from 2012 to 2017 based on the direct cash transfer programme that the government espouses that “adoption of a target to move major subsidies and major beneficiary payments to a cash basis linked to Aadhar by the end of the 12th Plan period would be a major step towards improving efficiency.”
With the draft 12th plan document titled Faster, Inclusive and More Sustainable Growth put up for discussion on the plan panel’s website, it has moved a step closer to approval by the apex decision-making authority of the country, the National Development Council.
The NDC meeting is to be held on 27 December, the link on the plan panel website said. Media reports had earlier said the document, which targets 8.2% growth in the five years from 2012 to 2017, would be discussed on 29 December.
Total resources for the central plan are estimated to be Rs.43.33 trillion, down from the Rs.47.69 trillion estimated at the time of the Full Planning Commission meeting in September as the resources of Public Sector Enterprises turned out to beRs.4.3 trillion lower than estimated then.
The share of rural development and panchayati raj sectors in the centre’s gross budgetary support has been lowered from the 25.01% realised in the 11th Plan to a projected 18.86%. Projected share of health and child development sector, however, has been raised from the 7.09% realised in the 11th Plan to 11.45%.
On direct cash transfers for subsidies, the draft document suggests setting 2017 as a target for implementation all over the country.
“Adoption of a target to move major subsidies and major beneficiary payments to a cash basis linked to Aadhar by the end of the 12th Plan Period would be a major step towards improving efficiency,’ the document said.

Aadhaar-obsessed Indian Government should check ground reality #UID


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200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

NOVEMBER 30, 2012, http://www.taxindiaonline.com/
By TIOL Edit Team
THE Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has put the Government in fast gear on the grandiose project for direct cash transfers (DCT) to beneficiaries of various subsidy-centric and other welfare schemes.
He exuded over-confidence the other day while addressing the first meeting of the National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers (NCDCT).
Dr. Singh stated: “Direct Cash Transfers, which are now becoming possible through the innovative use of technology and the spread of modern banking across the country, open the doors for eliminating waste, cutting down leakages and targeting beneficiaries better. We have a chance to ensure that every Rupee spent by the government is spent truly well and goes to those who truly deserve it.”
He should moderate over-confidence with ground realities, provide answers on ticklish and contentious implementation issues.
He should also direct the Government to simultaneously pursue other options to reduce subsidy leakages and thus make DCT a triple medicine o ensure that benefits reach targeted segments of population, reign in corruption in delivery system and reduce expenditure and fiscal deficit.
Take the case of fertilizer subsidy. A cost-benefit study of Aadhar project undertaken by National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) at the behest of Planning Commission has projected a modest saving of 7% in fertilizer subsidy scheme through DCT.
Savings many times more than estimated 7% can be achieved simply by re-engineering fertilizer subsidy mechanism by weeding out fiscal bias for certain nutrients such as nitrogen and products such as ordinary prilled urea. It would not cost Government anything to bring urea under nutrient-based subsidy scheme!
The Government can easily save a few thousand crore rupees by ordering mandatory production and use of coated urea and urea super-granules and by promoting use of nitrates-based nitrogenous fertilizers that cause lesser losses of nitrogen through air, runs-offs and seepages in the crop field.
A truly nutrient-based and product-neutral subsidy scheme, coupled with mass popularization of drip irrigation should not only cut subsidy bill by half but also ensure efficient use of irrigation water. This is the key to food security and sustainable agriculture.
UPA Government should not neglect such options and create an impression that aadhar is the magic wand for inclusive growth and expenditure reforms. It must decide whether it would cash subsidy to land owners or to the share-cropper (the actual farmer) or to both.
The Government should also disclose whether and how often it would revise cash subsidy taking into account the increase in global prices of fertilizer and raw materials and rapid depreciation of rupee.
Such concerns are equally relevant to kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) that are primarily derived from imported crude. Would aadhar card-enabled DCT provide for automatic increase or decrease in fuel subsidies to reflect global price and forex changes?
And the acid test for the Government would be food subsidy. Would the Government automatically increase DCT/per person to reflect the regular increase in food procurement prices and the resulting rise in open market prices?
Would Aadhar mechanism have built-in mechanism to capture the inflation-caused swings in the number of potential beneficiaries especially who live on the threshold of dubious poverty line?
Yet another issue that can’t be pushed under the carpet is the urgent need to make the definition of poverty realistic and provide for inflation-indexing of poverty line.
As for implementation issues, a country bedeviled with power shortages and frequent breakdown of servers and telecom link can make aadhar-enabled electronic banking a pain in the neck for poorest of the poor.
When banking terminals at times fail in public sector banks in Delhi for hours, what is the guarantee that they would function in villages where power is supplied only for 6-8 hours as per the rural electrification norms.
There also many other challenges on the DCT road. The Government must list all concerns and disclose how it would resolve them. Credible and wholesome communication on Aadhar should replace government hand-outs to the media.
NIPFP study should have factored in all concerns and challenges before coming out with goody-goody projections.
The study claims: “We find that substantial benefits would accrue to the government by integrating Aadhaar with schemes such as PDS, MNREGS, fertiliser and LPG subsidies, as well as housing, education and health programmes. The benefits arise from the reduction in leakages that occur due to identification and authentication issues. Our analysis takes into account the costs of developing and maintaining Aadhaar, and of integrating Aadhaar with the schemes over the next ten years. Even after taking all costs into account, and making mod- est assumptions about leakages, of about 7-12 percent of the value of the transfer/subsidy, we find that the Aadhaar project would yield an internal rate of return in real terms of 52.85 percent to the government.”
The Government should commission a fresh study that should factor in all hidden and unrecognized costs of Aadhar-enabled DCT.

 

Andhra Pradesh fails to allocate funds stipulated for Scheduled Castes and Tribes


The deprived lot

Author(s): M Suchitra, dOWN  TO eARTH
Date: Dec 15, 2012

Andhra Pradesh fails to allocate funds stipulated for Scheduled Castes and Tribes, says Cabinet panel

K R VinayanPhoto: K R Vinayan

Had the Andhra Pradesh government abided by the plans envisaged by the Planning Commission, it would have efficiently spent thousands of crores of rupees meant to uplift the country’s two most socially backward sections. A Cabinet sub-committee, set up by the state government, has found serious lapses in allocation and utilisation of funds meant for the Special Component Plan (SCP) for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) for Scheduled Tribes (STs).

The state government was forced to appoint the sub-committee in April this year after state-wide protests. The protests followed allegations of serious irregularities in allocation and utilisation of funds meant for SCP and TSP. The allegations were made by United Action Committee, created to get funds meant for the sub-plans released. The United Action Committee comprises activists and former government secretaries. On March 26, 30,000 people from dalit and adivasi organisations, civil society and human rights groups and political parties organised a rally that proceeded to the state assembly.

The allegations were not baseless, states the nine-member Cabinet sub-committee, headed by deputy chief minister Damodar Raja Narasimha. The sub-committee submitted its report to Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy in August. “It does not require time-consuming research or analysis to conclude that SCP and TSP in Andhra Pradesh are a mere paper exercise to satisfy reporting requirements to the Planning Comm¬ission,” it notes. The state lacks proper vision, right perspective, plan of action and monitoring mechanism for SCP and TSP, states the report, which is yet to be placed before the legislative assembly.

Plan panel’s guidelines flouted

In 1976, the Planning Commission formed the sub-plans to bridge the development gap between the SC/ST communities and the socially advanced section of society. The first four Five-Year Plans, between 1951 and 1974, had miserably failed to uplift them.

According to the Planning Commission guidelines, funds for the sub-plans were to be channelised from the state’s total plan outlay in proportion to the SC/ST population. As per Census 2001, SCs constituted 16.2 per cent and STs 6.6 per cent of the state’s population. But in the last decade actual fund allocation for SCP did not go beyond 12 per cent of the state’s total budget estimate, the report states. There was shortage of Rs 4,097 crore in fund allocations. For TSP, there was shortage of Rs 568 crore in the past five years. In 2000-2001, elementary education received a negligible 0.020 per cent fund under SCP and 0.011 per cent under TSP.

“In the overall budget, it would appear the state is meticulously allocating 16.2 per cent under SCP and 6.6 per cent under TSP in the last three years. But a deeper examination of the schem¬es and allocations speaks volumes of the deceit and dishonesty associated with the SCP/TSP policy,” the report observes.

image

Schemes which do not contribute to the development of the SC/ST communities get included in the sub-plans. A strong indicator is the state’s budget plan for 2012-13. The sub-committee found as many as 157 schemes which do not qualify to exist under the sub-plans. The schemes include construction of godowns for safe custody of electronic voting machines, construction of buildings for the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Excise Department buildings, commercial tax department buildings and registration and stamps department buildings. The budget outlay for the 157 schemes is Rs 1,206.81 crore under SCP and Rs 486.52 crore under TSP.

Expenditure for the two communities has been minimal in the past few years. In 2007-08, for instance, of the state’s total plan outlay only 0.9 per cent was spent for rural development under TSP. A nominal 0.2 per cent was spent for water supply and sanitation in urban areas and 0.5 per cent on environment under TSP. Energy and transport got nothing under TSP that year. Total expenditure under social and economic services under TSP that year was 2.9 per cent.

The state government has not even issued clear guidelines for implementation of schemes under the sub-plans. “There was no serious effort to either identify the impediments in implement¬ation or to evolve strategies to overcome the impediments,” the report states.

For better implementation

The United Action Committee had demanded setting up a nodal agency to deal with the sub-plan funds and implement the plans effectively, and an Act to ensure that the funds are not misused. The Cabinet sub-committee also suggests an institutional mechanism for the sub-plans’ implementation.

It recommends that the Social Welfare Department and the Tribal Welfare Department, the nodal agencies at present, will continue to be so. However, two separate principal secretaries will deal with SCP and TSP. A group of ministers will monitor the implementation and a council headed by the chief minister will approve the plans and advise the government on SCP and TSP.

The committee suggests the proposed Act should ensure that the secretary of the Planning Department informs all the departments about the expenditures for the sub-plan each financial year.

“Why should the secretary of the Planning Department suggest sectors that need to be accorded priority?” asks K R Venu¬gopal, who has served as secretary to three prime ministers and was special rapporteur to the National Human Rights Comm¬ission. The secretary can help in effective planning, but the recommendation can be used to violate the special status and autonomy accorded to the nodal agencies, he says.

A whole new concept to give autonomy to the departments dealing with the SCs and STs is being developed to change attitude of disinterest and neglect towards them, he says. The institutional mechanism suggested by the sub-committee may adversely affect the much-fought-for autonomy of the nodal agencies. He also suggests that the sub-plans should be taken as five-year plans and the plan outlays should be made for five years.

Interestingly, despite observing four decades of gross injustice done to SC/ST communities, the sub-committee does not suggest that the state government should make up for the loss to SCP and TSP. “In the last 20 years, SCP was short of Rs 20,000 crore and TSP was short of Rs 4,000 crore. These are not small amounts,” says Venugopal. “If in a single state such a huge amount can be diverted, what must be the magnitude of funds diverted in the entire country? Should the Andhra Pradesh government not make up for the betrayal?”

 

AADHAAR Project The Flaws And The Pitfalls #UID #Nandanilekani


Publish Date : November 12th, 2012 |  chauthiduniya.com

The Aadhaar Project is a unique identification process which was established in February 2009. The project is implemented by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which is an agency of the Government of India. The project aims to provide a unique 12 digit ID number to all Indians and the UIDAI will maintain a database of residents containing biometric and other data. The ID number will be stored in a centralised database and then it would be linked to the basic demographics and biometric information like photograph, ten fingerprints and iris of the eye of each and every individual of the country. The verification of the number can be done in a very simple way with the help of online connectivity. It also gives a great opportunity for the Government of India to reduce and eliminate the large number of duplicate and fake identities in Government and private databases. The number which would be provided to an individual by the process of random generation will not be based on any caste, creed, religion and geography.
The main objective of the project is to ensure a form of identity for those people who do not have any identity. The project also aims at providing better delivery of services and effective governance. The total budget for the project is a whopping rupees 18,000 crores. In the 2009-2010 Union Budget, Rs. 100 crore was approved for the project for its first year of existence. The project got a huge boost when an amount of Rs. 1900 crore was approved for the term 2010-2011. For the budget year of 2012-2013, Rs 1758 crore has been approved for the project.

The claimed benefits of the project include :

Aadhaar would be the sole source of identity of verification.
People would be released from the problem of providing supporting identity cards on a repetitive basis for obtaining a passport, opening of bank account, driving license etc.
The poor and the underprivileged residents would be facilitated into the formal banking system and other services provided by the government.
Migrants would be provided with the opportunity of mobility of identity.
There would also be a financial inclusion with a deeper penetration of banks and other financial areas.
However, the Aadhaar project is facing a lot of criticism as well, especially as its benefits are still to be proved. The main criticism has come from the Planning Commission — it has questioned the administrative system of the project. As per the Planning Commission the people sitting at the top positions would not be seated forever and thus the influence of people like Nandan Nilekani would be missed. So a system should be made wherein the entire procedure of selecting the administrators would be fixed and the issuance of cards would be easily understood by individuals who come by in the future. The other criticism is the infringement on the right of privacy of information which is a crucial factor in the life of any individual. The criticism is that there could be a misuse of the personal information, surveillance, profiling, linking and matching of data bases and thus the confidentiality of the information would come under threat. Another major criticism is the high cost that has been approved for the project. The costs that have been approved till date might not be covered by the future revenue that would be produced from this project. The budget for the project is a huge amount and not covering the actual cost would mean a loss of a big number which might even hinder the financial position of the country.

The Aadhaar project is facing a lot of criticism as well, especially as its benefits are still to be proved. The main criticism has come from the Planning Commission – it has questioned the administrative system of the project. Amongst other problems, there could be a misuse of the personal information, surveillance, profiling, linking and matching of data bases and thus the confidentiality of the information would come under threat.

Doubts about the reliability of the biometric methods is another criticism which the project is facing. It is an area of concern that the techniques used for biometrics cannot be relied upon as the testing of the technique has not been done fully. So the main basis of identification comes into a thick cloud as biometrics is going to define the main identity of an individual. Fingerprints are another major area of concern. It is often seen that the finger prints of individuals are not proper and clear at all points of time and thus there might be times when the finger prints would not be of the quality which the project is looking for. Yet another criticism is the time span in the completion of the project. The project would take a lot of time to cover the total population of
the country as there is such a big population, so it becomes even more difficult to complete this process efficaciously. And finally the issuance of the card would mean that no services can be availed in the country without this card . This would become a big problem as the time that would be taken by the project to complete the entire process of distributing identity cards to all the citizens would be lengthy and thus for those still waiting for cards, life could become extremely difficult.

 

India’s welfare system fails, poor don’t get money


 

 
Thursday, October 25, 2012

BUDHI BAWAL, India: Uddal Singh, a retired army sergeant, is part of an experiment trying out radical changes to the Indian welfare system that the government plans to adopt nation-wide. And he’s furious.

 

He along with the 250,000 residents of Kotkasim, a bloc of Alwar district in western Rajasthan state, were chosen to be part of a pilot scheme to end the sale of subsidised kerosene, a fuel used by the poor for lighting and cooking.

 

Instead of buying it at a heavily discounted rate at the local government shop, those with ration cards were each in theory paid cash by the government and required to purchase the liquid at the market price.

 

“Since one year, no money has come into my account, not one paisa (cent),” the mustachioed 58-year-old said bitterly in the village of Budhi Bawal, a dusty one-street settlement of a few thousand people, mostly farmers.

 

Instead of lighting his kerosene lamps, he says he now makes do with candles at night.

 

Officials “come here to the shop, see the record of our ration card numbers and say the money will come,” he explained outside the grubby Fair Price Shop run by the local government dealer.

 

The Kotkasim trial has been disruptive, tricky to implement, and — depending on who you listen to — either a roaring success in cutting wasteful state spending, or a disaster that has caused hardship.

 

The conclusions are important.

 

In New Delhi, where the trial is viewed as a model for the future, the government is fast-tracking plans to distribute as much of India’s $61-billion welfare budget in cash as possible.

 

India is home to hundreds of millions of some of the poorest people on the planet who depend on government hand-outs for survival.

 

“As long as the money arrives in people’s accounts, the scheme is not a bad idea at all,” village leader Rakesh Kumar told AFP in an interview.

 

But he estimates 70 percent of people in his area have had problems receiving the cash.

 

“We have had to deal with the fall-out of the government’s experiments.”

 

The attraction of paying cash to the poor and leaving them to spend it has been enhanced by two foreign programmes which are broadly seen as successful: Mexico’s Progresa or Oportunidades, and Brazil’s Bolsa Familia.

 

Under the cash model, governments can keep track of the money they spend better, cut out middlemen, and even make the money conditional on beneficial things such as sending children to school.

 

They also bring the poor into the banking system, obliging them to open accounts to receive welfare payments.

 

Nandan Nilekani, who runs the government’s scheme handing out new biometric IDs known as Aadhar, says the system has already reduced fraud.

 

“When Aadhar is used, in some of pilots, there has been a 20-30 percent reduction in beneficiaries by reducing duplicants,” he says, pointing to trials in the states of Tripura, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.

 

Nation-wide 200 million people already have a new unique Aadhar ID and Nilekani’s scheme aims to cover half the population, or 600 million people, in the next 18 months.

 

“On the basis of Aadhaar, we can ensure that the benefit of schemes reach genuine beneficiaries and that there is no mediator,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said last weekend.

 

India subsidises everything from fertilizer and food to kerosene so cutting waste is crucial to the government’s drive to rein in its budget deficit.

 

But a welfare shake-up is politically risky and fraught with danger in a country where an estimated 42 percent of children under five are malnourished.

 

The Public Distribution System is the biggest such scheme in the world, providing subsidised kerosene, wheat and rice to up to a quarter of all households from cob-webbed shops of the sort seen in Budhi Bawal.

 

It is also staggeringly inefficient. An estimated 58 percent of grains purchased by the government fail to meet their intended targets, data from the national Planning Commission showed in 2005.

 

The results in Kotkasim are described by the top local administrator, District Collector Ashutosh Pednekar, as “remarkable”.

 

Figures from his office show kerosene consumption has fallen 82 percent since the cash scheme began, a saving for the government of 1.5 million rupees ($30,000) per month.

 

Before, crooked dealers would siphon off subsidised kerosene at 15 rupees a litre and sell it on the black market for around 30 rupees, where it was purchased as a cheap replacement for diesel to run tractors or generators.

 

Those entitled to discounted fuel also had an incentive to draw their full allotment — up to three litres per month — and then sell it on at a profit.

 

“The diversion of kerosene for purposes other than cooking and lighting has been stopped,” Pednekar told AFP.

 

“The moment you start selling kerosene at a market price, the business collapses for those with a business in ‘leakages’,” added the 34-year-old.

 

Under the next phase of his plan, the sale of subsidised cooking gas cylinders will be phased out in Kotkasim.

 

In five months time, the whole of Pednekar’s district of Alwar, home to 3.7 million people, will move over to the cash transfer system for kerosene.

 

While he conceded people were “not going gaga” over the cash system, “by now, there would have been a hue and cry” if they had not received the money. In the dusty villages of the trial area, AFP spoke to households who said the cash had indeed arrived promptly.

 

But there was also anger and confusion.

 

Some complained of surly bank officials who refused to help them; others said repeated complaints had come to naught; many said they had either stopped buying kerosene altogether or were now paying the higher price from their own pockets.

 

John Blomquist, an economist from the World Bank in New Delhi and expert on welfare programmes, says cash transfers can be an effective strategy to cut fuel and power subsidies.

 

“As countries get more developed, you tend to see fewer in-kind benefits” such as subsidised fuel, he told AFP.

 

“You can design a great cash transfer system, but it’s really about do you have the mechanism in place to implement well? Can you monitor well?”

 

 

#India- Union govt okays free fertility treatment for Parsis


DNA / DNA Correspondent / Friday, October 19, 2012 7:30 IST
The Union government has approved a proposal by the minority affairs ministry to bear the cost of fertility treatment in
order to arrest the decline of Parsi population in the country. A similar proposal by the ministry had been shot down
by the planning commission in 2010 on the grounds that it would spur demands from other communities as well,
thereby disturbing the health ministry’s family welfare programme designed to control rising population.
In the 12th Plan budget, the Planning Commission has allowed the minority affairs ministry to spend Rs2 crore in in
the current fiscal to organise fertilitycamps in areas concentrated by the community in Mumbai, Gujarat and Kolkata.
The amount will also be utilised to create awareness on in-vitro fertilisation or IVF technique adoption to increase
fertility by engaging health volunteers.
Planning Commission member Sayeeda Sayeedain Hamid had in her report on “empowerment of minorities”
highlighted the need to help Parsis lest it becomes an endangered community in India. The ministry of minority
affairs will now present a detailed roadmap to execute the scheme.
The ministry, which conducted a survey before moving the proposal for the fertility clinics, noted that the average
number of births per year in the Parsi community has never crossed 200 since 2001 and as such their number is
further dwindling. It said that while India’s population had grown to 1 billion in 2001, the number of ParsiZoroastrians has fallen 39% from 1.14lakh in 1941 to 69,000 in 2001.
Against the general child-woman ratio of 578 per 1,000 in the country, amongst the Parsis, it is just 85 per 1,000. The
proposal said late marriages, reduced fertility levels and migration were the major reasons for the decline in the
Parsi population.
About 30%of the Parsi population remains single, while another 30%is above 60. And to make matters worse, the
death rate in the community is three times the birth rate.
Dwindling Numbers
The average number of births a year among Parsis has not crossed 200 since 2001
Against the country’s general child-woman ratio of 578 per 1,000, among Parsis, it is 85 per 1,000
About 30% of Parsis remain single while another 30% is above 60. Also, the death rate within the community is thrice the birth rate

 

 

#India-Delhi HC intervenes to see SC/ST students clear an MBBS paper


Jitender Gupta
Pushed around Dr Manish (standing) and other SC/ST students of VMCC
Society: discrimination
The Drona Syndrome
It takes Delhi HC to see SC/ST students clear an MBBS paper
The Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College is considered one of the best medical colleges in India. It is located in the national capital and its teaching hospital is the well-known Safdarjung Hospital. From all accounts, it’s also a place that needs to completely overhaul its prejudices. Twenty-five students of the college, all belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC/STs), have had to move the Delhi High Court in sheer frustration, having repeatedly failed exams because of alleged discrimination. Teachers don’t seem to take the students’ grievances seriously: one teacher told Bhalchandra Mungekar, ex-Planning Commission member and MP, who headed a commission of inquiry into the complaints, that some  failures were because of “typographical mistakes”. Attitudes are unlikely to change soon. “The authorities mock us as ‘court batch’ students,” says Dr Manish, one of those who filed the case. “We continue to face a hostile atmosphere in college.”

Mungekar’s report to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, finalised after a series of meetings between the aggrieved students and the college authorities, held between February and June this year, gives an account of the troubles these students were put through. “Most of the active energy of these students is diverted and wasted in fighting such injustice,” says the report, a copy of which is with Outlook. “It leaves them frustrated, sometimes compelling them to give up studies midway. Occasionally, it even forces them to end their life.”

***

Damned spots!


The report of the Bhalchandra Mungekar (above) finds fault with the principal and other faculty members of VMMC.

***

The report focused on one college, but the bias probably exists in most colleges across India; what is shocking, though, is its existence in premier institutions offering professional courses such as those in medicine, engineering, business management, law and so on. In March, Anil Kumar Meena, an ST student of the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)—just a few minutes’ walk from Vardhaman Medical College—had committed suicide. Inability to cope with English, and also with how SC/ST students were looked upon by teachers and fellow students, was blamed. Tragic examples of this sort are not hard to find in colleges across the country.

The Mungekar report, though, was prompted by what one set of SC/ST students went through at one college. It’s a harrowing ordeal. Of the 35 SC/ST students admitted to the 2004-09 MBBS batch at Vardhaman Medical College, 25 hadn’t cleared the physiology exam even by July 2010, having failed repeatedly. Physiology is a pre-clinical subject, normally cleared in two semesters in the first one-and-a-half years of admission to the course. These students took a supplementary exam in October 2010—and again failed to clear it, despite having passed in other subjects. Failure in the October 2010 test meant they lost another year. The report says SC/ST students made between four and 13 attempts at passing physiology; eight failed despite 4-9 attempts and left the course; 24 have not yet passed despite 2-8 attempts. In contrast, not one general category student failed the physiology exams held in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In the same years, 15, 14 and 25 SC/ST students failed in the subject.

The students had written to the vice-chancellor of the Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, to which the college is affiliated. They had also approached the college authorities, and finding their supplications ignored, used the Right to Information Act (RTI) to find out why they’d failed repeatedly. “All this points to discrimination by design against these students,” says Mungekar, who has also recommended that the students be paid `10 lakh each in compensation for the discrimination they had been made to suffer.

“It must be emphasised that the hostility of the college authorities towards SC/ST students is found to be so strong that the latter always had to approach the information commission with applications under RTI,” says the report. The report also wants Dr Shobha Das, the director, professor and head of the department of physiology, suspended under the Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1978. Das was the one who put forth the “typographical mistake” explanation.

The commission was shocked at the casual manner adopted by the college authorities. An RTI application revealed that one student, Rajeev Kumar Meena of the 2007 batch, had obtained seven marks for the theory part and 11 for the practicals in the July 2010 exam. But the results said he’d scored six and eight marks respectively. He was failed. Das, the physiology department head, claims to have tried to have the error rectified but  the college had already declared the results so it was in vain. No action was taken against Das for the mistake either.

The students had nowhere to go. The college does have a liaison officer to look specifically into the grievances of SC/ST students, but he didn’t care to record their complaints. The report notes that the principal, Dr V.K. Sharma, wasn’t even aware there was such a liaison officer. Sharma himself proved to be of little help; it was when he failed to address the students’ grievances that they approached the court, which ordered the college to allow the failed students to attend class. The college authorities brazenly ignored the order for a year till the students’ counsel reminded them.

The court’s observation is telling: “We’ll be failing in our duty if we do not deal with the submissions of the students, who belong to a different stratum of society, and are facing a hostile atmosphere because they have approached us…” Later, on a court order dated July 8, 2011, the students took a supplementary exam in physiology, conducted by the Army College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, under close supervision of the court and in a supportive atmosphere. Many of the students who had been failing in physiology since 2004 passed this time. The ending was not so happy, actually—for in addition to all the extra-curricular efforts they had to take to fight the discrimination, it must be remembered that the students ended up having to attend classes with a fresh batch, losing a year anyway.

As Mungekar observed, “The casual manner in which the college authorities treated this matter not only shows indifference but also the contempt they have for SC/ST students.” Some of the students, it must be noted here, were even forced to drop out in the face of such behaviour. Sadly, the Mungekar committee’s findings about prejudices against SC/ST students—and a lack of willingness to address special needs any group might have—could well apply to many colleges across the country. However high they may stand in the rankings.

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