The Unique Identification Card (UID) is indeed unique on many counts. It is neither legal nor illegal. The UPA says it is a panacea for all evils but experts say it is not feasible. But the way the UPA Government is trying to enforce the UID card on people is shocking. In fact, the Government has lost its direction. Till date, thousands of crores of rupees have been spent. The Congress Government has announced that the cash transfer scheme will be linked with this card. The Congress thinks that this card could be the key to the next general election. All efforts are being made to make it successful. But the irony is that even the Cabinet Ministers of the UPA do not know whether this is a card or a number. How would you define a Government that spends millions over a project and its Ministers say they are confused about it?
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Bill is pending in Parliament. If this Bill is passed, then UID will become legally valid. But the problem is that the Parliamentary Committee has rejected this Bill. It is not yet clear whether this Bill will be passed or whether this Government will survive till this Bill is passed. There is another problem : a retired judge of the Karnatka High Court has approached the Supreme Court with a list of objections. He has raised some serious questions on this card, which are being heard by the Chief Justice of India, Mr. Altmash Kabir. For the last 3 years, Chauthi Duniya has been continuously raising questions on this card and has published stories about the threat and the ‘infeasibility’ of the UID card.
In a recently held Cabinet meeting, UID became a bone of contention. Shockingly, Cabinet Ministers started discussing whether UID is a card or a number. There were Ministers who said it is a card and but some said it is just a number. Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who has been fielded along with Finance Minister P Chidambaram to project Aadhaar-linked benefits, made the point that UID was essentially a number. Those who voiced doubts about UID’s format included Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Kumari Selja, Minister for Heavy Industries, Praful Patel and Railway Minister Pawan Bansal. The debate could not be settled in the meeting so interestingly, a Group of Ministers (GOM) was formed to examine issues related to duplication or overlap between the National Population Register (NPR) and the UID.
The UID scheme involves Rs 5,000 crore in the initial stage. It’s been more than 3 years that UIDAI has been operating; it is shameful that cabinet Ministers are confused over it. The question is : what will this GOM do? Half of the population has already got the Aadhaar card; but still we see the National Population Registrar has begun the process of making the NPR Card. Now, what is the difference between these two cards? Nobody has any idea about it. Nobody is answering these questions. To add to the confusion, the Congress and the UPA Government have announced that the cash transfer scheme can only be availed by those who have the Aadhaar card.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, joined the chorus. He said that Aadhaar is not a card but a number. But the reality is different. Is the Government trying to bluff people? We are putting some proofs before you. Kindly see the picture of the hoarding which is an advertisement for UID. It clearly indicates that Aadhaar is a card. Everyone in this advertisement is holding an Aadhaar card. It is appalling to see that the UPA and its leaders rendered themselves a laughing stock.
The working of the Government is also as unique as the card itself. The Central Government has made the Aadhaar card mandatory for Provident Fund without issuing any legal order. The linking of UID with Employees Provident Fund is a manifest case of linguistic corruption wherein Planning Commission’s Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) continues to claim that enrolment for UID/Aadhaar number is ‘Voluntary’ on its website. The Central Government’s regulations make it quite clear that the Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number has been made mandatory for any Provident Fund transaction under the Employees Provident Fund scheme operated by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation without any legal mandate. Obviously, by doing this it becomes mandatory for anyone who wants to get the benefit of any Government scheme. There is a question here, if Aadhaar card is being made for half of the population and NPR for the rest, then how can this Aadhaar card be made essential for Provident Fund? What will the people of those States do where only the NPR card is being made and not UID?
How would you define a Government that spends millions over a project and its Ministers say they are confused about it?… The Government should answer whether any feasibility test has been done for the Aadhaar card. If not, why is it being imposed? Whether any nation of this world is using such a card? Has this technology been successful in any part of the world? Is there any country in the world where Government schemes have been linked with such a card or number? The truth is that nobody knows how this card works. In fact, these foreign private companies are testing their technology in India and we are just guinea-pigs.
There is a very peculiar point in column number 9 of the Aadhaar card. In UID/Aadhaar Enrolment Form, Column 9 reads: “I have no objection to the UIDAI sharing information provided by me to the UIDAI with agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services”. In front of this column, there is a “Yes” and “No” option. Irrespective of what option residents of India exercise (which is being ticked automatically by the enroller in any case as of now), the fact is this information being collected for creating a Centralised Identity Data Register (CIDR) and National Population Register (column 7) will be handed over to biometric technology companies like Satyam Computer Services/Sagem Morpho, L1 Identities Solutions and Accenture Services of all shades who have already been awarded contracts. Chauthi Duniya has exposed earlier that these companies are associated with officials of a US intelligence agency. It makes this issue serious. The Government has not made clear before the media or Parliament why tenders have been given to these private companies when these companies have a tainted background.
Why is the Manmohan Singh led Government secretive about Nandan Nilekani and UIDAI? Why have they been given so much importance? What is the secret? As per the communication from UIDAI dated July 2, 2010, “The decision for appointment of Chairman was conveyed by the Cabinet Secretariat”. The Planning Commission’s notification (which was to be published in the Gazette of India) dated July 2, 2009 reveals that “the competent authority has approved the appointment of Nandan Nilekani, Co-Chairman, INFOSYS as Chairperson, Unique Identification Authority of India, in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister. Nilekani will hold appointment for an initial tenure of five years”. It only means that Nandan Nilekani was made the Chairman of UIDAI while he was Co-Chairman of INFOSYS. It is also inexplicable as to why Shri Nilekani who has not taken the oath of secrecy mandatory for a Cabinet Minister is being handed over the sensitive personal information of citizens and workers. How will he be held liable and accountable if he and his appointees hand over the UID/Aadhaar database to foreign Governments and private ‘agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services’?
All the claims Nandan Nilekani and the UPA Government made about the UID have been proved wrong. Nandan’s biggest claim was that no one can make a duplicate of this card. But he has been proven wrong. Several complaints came in this regard which proved that this card is neither foolproof nor secure. Now, Nandan should answer why he made false promises to the people of this country. However, the UIDAI ordered an investigation in this matter. Till date, 300 operators have been blacklisted in Maharashtra alone of whom 22 are Mumbai based. In December 2012, UIDAI cancelled 3.84 lakh Aadhaar numbers because they were found bogus.
While it came to Jan Lokpal, the Government said laws are not made on the road. Parliament is supreme and we have a procedure for making laws. Why were no rules or laws followed in case of UIDAI? The operation of UID is not legal as the Bill is pending in Parliament. Moreover, a Parliamentary Committee has rejected UID and declared it baseless. The Parliamentary Committee has raised the same question which has been raised by Chauthi Duniya. Out of 31 members of this Committee, 28 members rejected the UIDAI project. The seven grounds on which the Committee based its report were: lack of feasibility study, hasty approval, threats to national security, being directionless, using unreliable technology, need for privacy and data-protection and lack of coordination among Government agencies involved. The Parliamentary Committee said “The Committee are also unhappy to observe that the UID scheme lacks clarity on many issues such as even the basic purpose of issuing “aadhaar” number. Although the scheme claims that obtaining aadhaar number is voluntary, an apprehension is found to have developed in the minds of people that in future, services / benefits including food entitlements would be denied in case they do not have aadhaar number. It is also not clear as to whether possession of aadhaar number would be made mandatory in future for availing of benefits and services. Even if the aadhaar number links entitlements to targeted beneficiaries, it may not ensure that beneficiaries have been correctly identified. Thus, the present problem of proper identification would persist.” The Committee rejected this project and sent it to the Government for reconsideration.
The Government should answer whether any feasibility test has been done for this card. If not, why is it being imposed? Whether any nation of this world is using such a card? Has this technology been successful in any part of the world? Is there any country in the world where Government schemes have been linked with such a card or number? The truth is that nobody knows how this card works. In fact, these foreign private companies are testing their technology in India and we are just guinea-pigs.
Now, only the Prime Minister and the Home Minister can explain why the Government spent so much money without passing this Bill. This matter pertains to the Home Ministry but the Prime Minister should answer this question because UIDAI chief Nandan is a friend of the Prime Minister. What kind of democracy is this, where despite rejection by the Parliamentary Committee, the Government spends thousands of crores of rupees and still has no idea whether it is a card or a number? If this Bill is not passed in Parliament and if for any reason this project is withdrawn then what will the Government do? How will the money of taxpayers be reimbursed? Will Nandan Nilekani return this money or Mr. Prime Minister repay it? UID need to be investigated and the Government must issue a white paper so that the truth is known to the people of India.
AN IMPORTANT QUESTION
Chauthi Duniya had published a story on UID card in August 2011 and made it clear how this card is dangerous. UIDAI gave a tender to three companies — Acenture, Mahindra Satyam-Morfo and L-1 Identity Solution. Just take the example of L-1. Its various directors have a link with US Intelligence agencies. Its CEO had said in 2006 that he has included George Tenet of CIA in the Board of the company. George Tenet has been the director of CIA and he is the person who had collected false evidence against Iraq in the case of weapon of mass destruction. The question is : why is the Indian Government trying to share information with such companies. On the one hand these companies will make a huge amount of money and on the other hand they can misuse such information.
A MOST DANGEROUS SITUATION
In November 2011, Chauthi Duniya again published a report on the UID card and warned about the misuse of UID information and its impact. It had menftioned a machine named Holerith D-11 placed at the Holocaust Memorial Museum at USA. This machine was built by IBM before the Second World War. This machine was used by Hitler in 1933 for making a census and detecting the Jews population. The nexus between IBM and Hitler resulted in a massacre of the Jews. The Indian Government gave a green signal to the UIDAI project without taking any lessons from the history even though it is clear that such information can be used against some particular religion, caste or area. Is it not a dangerous situation?