From Aadhaar to Niraadhaar – How UID has become a huge mess

From Aadhaar to Niraadhaar – How UID has become a huge mess

October 7, 2013

When the UIDAI was constituted in January 2009 and it was decided that Nandan Nilekani, a man for whom many in this nation had great regard, would head the project, a large section of the society was overjoyed. People expected UID to become a transformational initiative which could impact millions of lives in making sure subsidies do not leak and the poorest of the poor get the benefits from the Government. It was thought that UID will also reduce the involvement of middlemen and bring the system in place.

Four years down the line, looking at the way it has progressed in spite of all the PR blitzkrieg that goes on to show how many millions have been enrolled into the system, there are lots of issues at the ground level which have far reaching consequences.

How safe is UID?
  • Enrolment agencies, sub-registrars, registrars and UIDAI have no legal liability for any theft, fraud, crime, and compromise of your security or privacy that may be perpetuated through Aadhaar
  • The use of Aadhaar by various agencies will now expose all your IDs, information, properties, entitlements etc. to misuse in one go thus exposing you to unprecedented risk
  • You have neither control on who uses your Aadhaar nor any way to know or verify its use by anyone
  • Your entire data and biometric is handled by non-Indian companies

What if people who capture this biometric data decide to play foul and sell this information before uploading into the central server?

They can easily copy all personal information into their own disk. There are so many places in AP where these enrollment centres are being maintained in fake addresses and homes.

How legal is UID?
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Aadhaar card has rejected the Aadhaar exercise. There is no legal sanction or budgetary sanction
  • The Planning Commission has no mandate for such projects
  • The Executive order is bad law under the constitution as it violates fundamental right
  • Under the Citizenship Rules of 2003 it is the Registrar General of India who has to maintain a National Register of Indian Citizens and issue National ID cards

Voluntary or Compulsory?

Ordinary citizens of India need to understand that there is no law in this country that makes UID mandatory. The scheme is a complete infraction of Fundamental Rights under Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty). While the government claims that the scheme is voluntary, Aadhaar has quietly been made mandatory for purposes like registration of marriages and others. Maharashtra government recently said no marriage will be registered if parties don't have Aadhaar cards.

In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar Card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant.
--- Supreme Court Order on September 24, 2013

An article in the Hindu dating almost 2 years back clearly deconstructed the Aadhar project as being built on a platform of myths. In an article in DNA, Usha Ramanathan calls the project a recipe for disaster.

Financial implications of Aadhaar
  • Banks have been directed to open accounts with Aadhaar numbers instantaneously—they can no longer verify if the number links to real and unique individuals
  • Money transfers from Aadhaar accounts will not be audited if there is less than Rs10 lakh transferred in a year. This means subsidy, bribes and black money may go to shell accounts that may never be traced!
  • Money can be moved from Aadhaar-to-Aadhaar electronically without your knowledge

Parting Thought

It is one thing putting in place Six Sigma processes in the controlled environment of an organisation, which Nilekani did successfully at Infosys, but getting those very technology reliant processes to address poverty in a country of 1.2 billion is quite another.

Rolling out massive welfare schemes in remote villages using such wireless devices at India's current state of technology preparedness is a distant dream.

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Comments (3)
Paresh Sinha Reply
October 07, 2013
There are systemic and security flaws in the Aadhar system. The data can be misused by the people registering them. People/agencies can use it without the person concerned person knowing. Since the entire data is handled by non-Indian companies, if there is some misdemeanour by them, can they be prosecuted under Indian law? Also, there have been recent initiatives by the central govt to make sure that govt employees only use official mail IDs, as mails sent & recd using Gmail are stored in non-Indian servers, and hence can be accessed by foreign agencies. So the same precaution should have been applicable here.
Pinky Reply
October 07, 2013
UID is a good idea, but there are issues which should have been thought of earlier. The quicker they are solved the better.
Nidhi Reply
October 07, 2013
My goodness. This article really scared me! Never thought this before!!
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