Narendra Modi’s Government is not worried or concerned about the security and future of the country. If it is, then why is it bent on compromising the security of the country? We didn’t have any hope from the Mahnmohan Government, but if the Modi Government too repeats the same mistakes, then everyone should become alert regarding the country’s future and security. Is it not a matter of worry that foreign agencies keep a watch on our Armed Forces Chiefs and intelligence officers? Is it not a matter of worry that foreign Intelligence Agencies have complete information of the activities of our Ministers, secretaries and all important officials? The surprising thing is this that all this information is being provided to foreign Intelligence Agencies by the Government of India. A clear and imminent danger is hovering over the country and Opposition parties and the media are sitting with their eyes shut.
Has the rule of law ended in this country? The Central Government is clearly violating the Supreme Court’s orders regarding the Aadhar scheme. The Supreme Court’s order says that the Aadhar card cannot be forcibly imposed on the citizens of the country. With regard to the Aadhar scheme the Supreme Court gave three orders in quick succession, one after the other — on September 23, 2013, November 26, 2013 and March 24, 2014, but the Government is continuously bent on ‘committing contempt’ of these orders. It has been clearly said in these orders that the Aadhar card cannot be made mandatory for any of the Government’s schemes. It has also been said that in the case of not having an Aadhar number, nobody can be deprived of the benefits of Government schemes. The Supreme Court has also said that this is a voluntary scheme and for the time being should be kept voluntary only. But the Government of the country is busy making this card mandatory everywhere — from the back door. The matter of the Aadhar card is in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in the orders it has given till now, has made it clear that it cannot be made mandatory. But the surprising thing is that the Modi Government has given it the green flag.
The Aadhar scheme is a scheme of the UPA Government. This scheme is surrounded by questions pertaining to security and law. During the UPA Government’s tenure, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raised questions on this scheme. During the election campaign, the BJP had clearly said that there would be rethinking on this scheme soon after formation of an NDA/BJP Government. The elections ended, an NDA/BJP Government was formed, but, lo, after just one meeting of the Chairman of the Unique Identification (UID) Authority, Nandan Nilekani, with Prime Minister Modi, the BJP’s stand changed. This closed door meeting took place on July 1 this year. At this meeting, Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and Nandan Nilekani were present. Now we don’t know what line the superman of the UPA Government, Nandan Nilekani, gave to beguile Narendra Modi, but on July 5 this year the Prime Minister gave a new lease of life to this scheme. Don’t the country and Parliament have a right to know why the Government gave the green signal to an illegal scheme? Shouldn’t the MPs and media ask why the UID scheme was implemented without the UID Bill being passed and why is the new Government continuing with it?
Not only this, the Prime Minister also set a target of making 100 crore new Aadhar cards at the earliest. Just nine days after the Modi-Nilekani meeting, Arun Jaitley presented the Budget and increased the allocation for UID from 1550 crore rupees to 2039 crore rupees. The amazing thing is that just two days before this Modi-Nilekani meeting on UID, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Communications and Information Technology and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Minister of State for Planning Rao Inderjit Singh had held a meeting with senior officials. The conclusion of this meeting was against UID. Apart from this it also needs to be remembered that immediately after winning the elections, former spokesperson of the BJP, Prakash Javadekar, had said that with regard to the Aadhar scheme the party has two concerns — one was its legal basis and the second was the issue of security.
Prakash Javadekar is now a Minister. There is now a NDA/BJP Government at the Centre. Therefore this question should be asked : with regard to Aadhar, what is that decision that the Government has taken which has resulted in nullification of both the concerns expressed earlier? Has the pending Bill related to Aadhar been passed in Parliament? Has the final decision of the Supreme Court been given? Have we stopped handing bio-metric data of people to foreign companies? Have we separated foreign Intelligence Agencies from companies related to the Aadhar scheme? The Government should reveal what magic it performed that a scheme which was dangerous till yesterday is today no longer dangerous.
Don’t the editors of newspapers and TV channels of the country have time even to read the orders of the Supreme Court? They blindly publish Government press releases as if every press release sent by the Government is an oracle, is the ultimate truth. It is because of this habit that the credibility of journalism is ending. The condition of the Opposition parties of the country is the same. Will no voice be raised in Parliament against this illegal and dangerous scheme? The Congress Party is the mother of the Aadhar scheme, but those
people who are neither in the BJP nor in the Congress, why are they silent? Is it not their duty that for the rights of the people, they raise their voices in Parliament and ask the Government why the work of sending personal sensitive data of citizens to foreign countries continuing?
Don’t the MPs of the country have the courage to ask why civilian use of Aadhar has been linked to military use, whereas during the last Government’s tenure Foreign, Home and Information Technology Parliamentary Standing Committees had warned about the dangers of cloud storage of Aadhar and biometric information. The Supreme Court turned it down. Parliamentary Committees have deemed it dangerous. In other countries of the world this scheme has been stopped. Those with knowledge of this subject and specialists are continuously giving warnings, but still the Aadhar scheme continues and that too in an unlawful manner. Now it remains to be seen whether anybody capable of speaking the truth against the all powerful Government is left or not.
The Congress Government had done the same thing. At that time, a Parliamentary Committee under the leadership of BJP’s Yashwant Sinha had suggested doing away with it. During the elections, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Anant Kumar, had said that after formation of the Government, the BJP would throw away this scheme in the dustbin. But, today the same BJP has kept all rules and regulations at bay to implement the Aadhar scheme. Crores of rupees have been spent on the Aadhar card. How much further expense will be there, nobody knows. Under RTI too how much money will be spent on this scheme could not become known.
The biggest concern is that in the name of the Aadhar card, personal biometric information of people of the country is being collected illegally. Even more dangerous is that all the above mentioned information is being handed over to foreign companies. Such companies which are linked to the Intelligence Agencies of America and France. The Government of the country should be given a prize for this : that inspite of the Constitution and the courts being there, it is successful in implementing a scheme which is not only illegal, but which also poses a danger of information about the people of the country reaching foreign Intelligence Agencies.
Chauthi Duniya has regularly kept warning about the dangers of the Aadhar card. The danger that was there before, that danger is there today too. It is a constant danger. The foreign companies mentioned above will collect and store biometric data of the people of the country through cloud technology. In February 2014 there was a report on cyber security by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology. In this report a warning was given that the Aadhar scheme is not only a compromise with national security, but is also an attack on the sovereignty and the right to privacy of citizens. Because the way in which biometric data of people is being stored under cloud technology, the Government has no right in that regard. The law of the country cannot be applied to it. If information about people is even copied or someone gets it through hacking, thenIndia will not be in position to do anything against that. Now every child knows that that no control of anybody remains on data once it goes out of the country. Making a copy of digital data is not only easy, but takes no time either. What kind of Government is this, which is implementing schemes that are outside the purview of the law and the Constitution? And the Opposition of the country is such that it has only enough intelligence to create a ruckus in Parliament in the name of hate speeches. In a sensitive matter like the UID, all of them become disciplined like school children, no voice emerges from their throats. Should the public now understand that the country’s Parliament and the MPs present in it have become servants of foreign companies? Is this the message that Parliament wants to give : that there is no place for sensitive matters like security of the nation and rights of the people?
Come, now lets see how the UPA Government compromised the security of the country and the rights of citizens and how the Modi Government is strengthening that dangerous compromise. The speciality of this Aadhar scheme is that its work is not being made done by Government agencies. The Government is giving all this work to foreign companies Work from making the card to its operation is with private companies. All kinds of companies are involved. The story of some of these companies is that after entering into an agreement they merged with some other company. This is a different, scary game. But for the time being let us see what UPA’s superman Nandan Nilekani has done. Paragraph 15.1 of the agreement between UID and Accenture company says that as per this contract Accenture Services Private Limited or Accenture Services Private Limited’s team can use personal information of the buyer or any third person or any citizen of India. Meaning that as per this contract foreign companies are free to use biometric data of people of the country.
The President of the country has been made a buyer through UID in this agreement. Now the question is : who gave the right to the UID Authority from the side of the citizens of India to make this agreement? This question arises because with regard to this Authority the Bill that was brought in Parliament has yet not been passed. In paragraph 15.1 of the agreement it was also said that Accenture Company can keep this data with it for seven years. In seven years time so many companies of biometric information of the people of India could be formed that nobody will even be able to tell that the original is with whom. A similar agreement was done with L-1 Identity Solution Operating Company. The website of this company states that its speciality is it has the most experienced people of America’s military and intelligence agencies working for it. A merger of this company has now taken place with a company of France — Safran. Safran also has a link with China. The only saving grace is this that data related to UID is not going to Pakistan. Now look at the deed of the Modi Government. In the Ministries of Delhi, to ensure that officials reach on time, they have made the Aadhar card mandatory from the back door as it were. In the Ministries of Delhi, provision is now being made to register attendance through the Aadhar card. Meaning that all information about current and future top officials has reached foreign countries, and those whose information hasn’t reached, the Government is making stalls for them to collect their biometric data. Officials working in various Ministries are angry. But when the Government doesn’t care about the orders of the Supreme Court, will it have any concern for the anger of these officials? The person implementing this system, Ram Sewak Sharma, was Director General of UID during the UPA Government. As of now he is Secretary, Department of Electronics and Information Technology. He is an expert in matters related to UID. But surprisingly he uses Google email even today. It needs to be understood that it has been made clear by Google that people use Google mail only by surrendering their privacy. The Right to Privacy may not be so important for Ram Sewak Sharma, but for the people of the country it is very important. You are an expert on what, if you can’t make a mail server like Gmail in the country. It is a matter of shame. The result of implementing this scheme is that Ram Sewak Sharma, to operationalise it in organisations related to the army, sent a letter marked ‘urgent’, ‘very important’. Now the question is this: why was it linked to the army? Gopal Krishna of Citizens’ Forum for Civil Liberties says that this scheme was a military scheme from the beginning itself. It was first started by America’s Department of Defense. Later, North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO) adopted it. Through the civilian route this had to reach defense. During the time of the UPA Government Admiral Nirmal Verma had made his Aadhar card and had given his biometric information. Today Admiral Verma is the High Commissioner of India in Canada. Meaning that to keep a watch on the High Commissioner of India, Intelligence Agencies don’t have to sweat much, because all the information about Admiral Verma is with Accenture Company. Is this not a worrisome matter? The Government will have to tell whether the citizens of the country have any Right to Privacy or not. If they have, then through which right did the UID Authority take the decision of sending personal information about people to foreign companies and enemy nations?
If the Modi Government is even a little sensitive with respect to the security and future of the country, then it should reconsider the Aadhar scheme. If not, then at least it should disclose to the people of the country and Parliament under which law this scheme is being implemented. What is the reason behind violating the orders of the Supreme Court? But before that it should be revealed under which law retina scans of people, thumb prints and other biometric information is being collected. The Government should also reveal to which all countries and companies we are handing over the biometric data of people. Alongside, the history of those companies should be told which are being run by people from Intelligence Agencies. The Government should reveal as well how much profit it promised to these companies in the coming 20 years.
It is easy to talk big, difficult to find solutions. Can we not make a mail server in India? Can we not make such a system, in which biometric data of citizens need not be sent to foreign companies or countries? If the Government doesn’t have an answer of all these questions, then the Opposition at least should tell the truth to the people of the country. If the Opposition too doesn’t know, then in the grave misdeed of ending the Constitution and the rule of law in the country, the party in power and the Opposition, both will be equally responsible.
10 QUESTIONS FOR THE PRIME MINISTER
- With regard to the Aadhar scheme the Supreme Court gave three orders in quick succession, one after the other — on September 23, 2013, November 26, 2013 and March 24, 2014. Why is the Government continuously bent on ‘committing contempt’ of these orders?
- During the election campaign, the BJP had clearly said that there would be rethinking on this scheme soon after formation of an NDA/BJP Government. Why did the BJP’s stand change immediately after the Prime Minister’s meeting with Chairman of the UID Authority, Nandan Nilekani?
- Former spokesperson of the BJP Prakash Javadekar had said that with regard to the Aadhar scheme the party has two concerns — one was its legal basis and the second was the issue of security. Have both these concerns ended?
- With regard to the Aadhar scheme, a Bill is pending in Parliament. Then why is this scheme being implemented?
- Is the personal sensitive data of Indian citizens being sent to foreign countries or not?
- Why was civilian use of Aadhar linked to military use?
- Why doesn’t the Government reveal how much money will be spent on this scheme?
- In February 2014 there was a report on cyber security by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology. In this report a warning was given that the Aadhar scheme is not only a compromise with national security, but is also an attack on the sovereignty and the right to privacy of citizens. Is it not so?
- Why is the work of implementing the Aadhar scheme in the hands of foreign companies instead of Government agencies?
- Are many of these companies not being run by foreign Intelligence Agencies?