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Archives for : January2018

India – There is a Brahminical resurgence’

‘It is not happening in the same manner as it was happening during the time of the Peshwas.’
‘Whatever happened during the Peshwas cannot happen now.’

Image only published for representational purposes.

Bhima-Koregaon near Pune witnessed tension and violence this year when Dalits, like they have done for many years now, congregated at the site of the battle between the East India Company and the Peshwa’s forces exactly 200 years ago.

Aiding the British in the battle of Bhima-Koregaon were the Mahars, a Dalit community who claim the victory against the Peshwa empire as their own and commemorate it every year.

This year, events took on an added edge with Jignesh Mevani, the newly elected Dalit MLA from Gujarat, visiting the site, incorporating a Jay Stambh or victory memorial, to pay tribute.

Violence broke between those marking the victory over the Peshwas and those protesting the commemoration, in which one person was killed.

The Battle of Koregaon on January 1, 1818 marked the last confrontation between the Peshwas and the British, and brought about the end of the Maratha empire.

Dalit intellectual Dr Anand Teltumbde does not share the Dalit perception about the significance of the Koregaon battle for Dalits, or its contemporary relevance.

“Who is the fool who can claim that caste oppression was not there in India!” Dr Teltumbde tells Rediff.com‘s Syed Firdaus Ashraf.

Why is the bicentennial of the British victory over the Peshwas so significant for the Dalit community, and why are they celebrating it?

As a matter of fact, I don’t know. There is nothing that happened. They (the Dalits) fought the war for the ruling powers (the British) and there is nothing significant.

What was that war about?

Every history book records that 1818 marked the last Anglo-Maratha war. That was the last battle they fought.

The Peshwas were reduced to weaklings by that time and they were not in (power in) Pune too.

They were trying to regroup their soldiers and attack Pune again with a big unit.

A small battle was fought there and that was the end of the Maratha empire and the rise of the British empire.

The Mahars were dominant in the Bombay Infantry of the British army, but that does not mean they were in a majority.

Out of 49 men, 22 men were identified as Mahars. So one cannot construe that they fought for caste and this (view) is total distortion.

Was discrimination against the Dalits common in the Maratha empire?

Of course. That was the societal factor.

Discrimination of Dalits was well recorded and caste discrimination reached its zenith under the Peshwas.

But that does not mean that the Mahars reacted in the battle the way it has been coloured.

Can you cite examples of what kind of discrimination the Dalits faced under the Peshwas?
Some say the Dalits had to hang a pot around their neck to spit in and tie a broom around their waist to sweep the ground as they walked to remove the so-called impurities.
Is that true?

These are all folklore. Dalits could not cross streets or sit by the roadside. These things have been spoken about.

I have not gone though any historical evidence about this in any book or papers.

Who is the fool who can claim that caste oppression was not there in India! It was there.

By calling it folkore, are you saying that the discrimination against the Dalits was exaggerated?

It must have been there because it was purely Brahminical rule (under the Peshwas).

Even today that is happening. That is the truth.

They will try to reinforce their rule and power as they were out of power for some time.

These things keep happening, but to say that because of that (discrimination against the Dalits), this (the 1818 war) happened…

Dalit intellectuals whom I read said the arrival of the British was good for Dalits as Lord (Thomas Babington) Macaulay introduced the English language and uplifted the Dalits’ status in Indian society. Is it true?

That (theory) is totally nonsense. All these kind of things are getting distorted in identity (politics).

Lord Macaulay had no business to liberate Dalits, they had to liberate themselves.

Lord Macaulay brought the English language for his colonial logic and colonial gains.

This is a known fact, but I don’t know why people don’t read and understand this logic.

Do you think a Brahminical order is resurgent in contemporary Indian society as witnessed in the Peshwas’ time?

There is a resurgence of some kind (of a Brahminical order).

It is not, however, happening in the same manner as it was happening during the time of the Peshwas.

Whatever happened during the Peshwas cannot happen now.

But there is resurgence. They (Brahminical forces) are trying to recreate the same situation.

What kind of oppression do Dalits face now?

Can’t you see? Lynchings are happening.

Not only Dalits, but any poor person cannot dissent. They cannot stand before (the State). They are suppressed ruthlessly.

http://www.rediff.com/news/interview/dalits-and-the-poor-are-suppressed-ruthlessly/20180102.htm

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Jharkhand -Another Woman Dies Of Hunger after Aadhaar Disrupts Delivery Of Ration And Pension #KillerAadhaar

 

Etwariya Devi, a 67-year-old widow, died of hunger and exhaustion on 25 December in Sonpurwa village of Majhiaon block of Garhwa district (Jharkhand). She lived with her son Ghura Vishwakarma, daughter-in-law Usha Devi and their three children in a dilapidated kutcha house. The family has a hand-to-mouth existence and is routinely unable to access adequate nutrition. Surviving the day on only a meal of rice and salt is not uncommon for it. The shortage of food worsened for Etwariya Devi when the family was denied ration from October to December 2017 and she did not get her pension for the months of November and December.

Denial of ration

Etwariya Devi’s family was denied their monthly entitlement of 25 kg of grain under the National Food Security Act for three months preceding her death. In October, Usha Devi’s fingerprint could not be authenticated in the Aadhaar-based biometric Point of Sale (PoS) machine at the local ration shop and she was told by the ration dealer to come back some other day. When she went back after a few days, she was told that the ration stock had finished. The dealer did not give her ration in November as he claimed that he was not allotted grains for that month. No grain was distributed at the ration shop in December till Etwariya Devi’s death as the PoS machine was allegedly dysfunctional

A general complaint of people of the village is that the dealer does not distribute ration as per the transactions made in the PoS machine. In October, for most ration card holders he transacted twice the monthly entitlement of grain and kerosene quantities but distributed for only a month.

Denial of ration to Etwariya’s family is yet another example of the disruptions in the Public Distribution System (PDS) caused due to its mandatory integration with Aadhaar. Dealers have started tampering with digital records in order to hide accumulated stocks. One way they do this is to separate authentication and distribution – get people’s fingerprints and/or tell them that they would get rations later, and then play hide-and-seek. As per the online records, ration was allotted to the dealer for October-December. But the dealer did not distribute ration to many cardholders claiming that he did not have adequate ration stock. These irregularities show that the introduction of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication has failed to curb leakages in the PDS. In fact, it has created new barriers to the access of rations.

Denial of pension

Etwariya Devi used to receive her monthly old age pension of Rs. 600 a month in her Aadhaar-linked bank account at the local Community Service Provider (CSP) centre (under Jharkhand Grameen Bank). She last collected her pension in October 2017. In November, no pension amount was credited in her account. When she went to withdraw her pension for December, after authenticating her fingerprint in the PoS machine, the CSP operator told her that the authentication had failed. But as per the bank statement of Etwariya’s account, a transaction of Rs. 600 was made on that day (8 December). In the CSP model of banking, the money is electronically transferred from customer’s account to that of the CSP operator once the customer authenticates the Aadhaar-based transaction. Once the money is credited to the CSP’s account, the payment is made to the customer. The CSP operator of Sonpurwa claims that the internet connectivity was disrupted just after Etwari Devi authenticated her fingerprint, because of which her pension amount was not credited to the CSP account.

Continual denial of Right to Life by the government

Etwari Devi’s death due to starvation follows on the heels of another death due to prolonged hunger and exhaustion in the district. It may be recalled that 64-year-old Premani Kunwar succumbed to starvation after she was denied her ration and pension due to linkage of these programmes with Aadhaar. Starvation death of another person in the same district exposes the lack of seriousness in the government towards addressing the issues in delivery of ration and pension.

Disruptions in the delivery of ration and pension in Jharkhand continue unabated. For those living on the margins, denial of such crucial entitlements leads to the violation of mere right to life.

The Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign reiterates its following demands: (1) Immediate dismissal of the ration dealer of Sonpurwa and registering FIR against him for embezzlement of PDS grain and tampering of PDS records; (2) Immediate shift to “offline” delivery of PDS entitlements; (3) Transfer of all ration shop licenses from private dealers to Gram Panchayats or self-help groups; and (4) Introduction of pulses and edible oil in the PDS.

Report of fact finding into the death of Etwariya Devi

(The annexures mentioned in the report can be downloaded from https://drive.google.com/open?id=1_1ZwByy-QV9A-gI9KpALkoCt98sty5Hy)

Place of visit – Sonpurwa village, Sonpurwa Gram Panchayat, Majhiaon block, Garhwa, Jharkhand

Date of visit – 28 December 2017

Members of investigating team – Mithilesh Kumar, Jahur Ansari, Siraj Dutta (on behalf of the Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand)

Summary of finding

Etwariya Devi, a 67 years old widow, passed away on 25 December. She did not get sufficient food and nutrition over a long period of time. She used to live with her son Ghura Vishwakarma, daughter-in-law Usha Devi and their children. The family does not own any land, except a small piece of land on which their dilapidated kutcha house stands. Ghura Vishwakarma works as unskilled labourer under contractors in other states. Usha Devi works as unskilled labourer in local agricultural works. The family routinely faced shortage of food and nutrition. None of the members of the family ate on the night of 24 December as there was no grain in the house.

The family was heavily dependent on 25 kg grains, entitled under the Priority Household card under National Food Security Act. It did not get ration in October, November and December (till the death of Etwariya). In October, Usha Devi’s (who collected the ration every month on behalf of the family) fingerprint did not work in the POS machine. In November, the dealer said that he had not been allotted grain for that month and in December, the dealer said that the POS machine was not working and had to be repaired. In the last three months, the shortage of food was severe for the family.

Etwariya was a pensioner under the Indira Gandhi Old Age Pension Scheme. She last received her pension from the local Pragya Kendra in October. Pension amount of Rs. 600 was credited in her account on 7 December. She went to the Kendra on 4 December and a transaction of Rs. 503 was made in her account. According to the CSP Anil Chowdhary, the internet connectivity broke right after she authenticated her fingerprint and the money was not credited to the CSP’s account. As a result, he did not give her the money. Similarly, on 8 December, transaction of Rs. 600 was made, but she was not given the money as the internet connection again broke. The CSP claims to have received the money in his account on 19 December. When asked why did not give the money to Etwari before 25 December, he said that she did not visit the Kendra again. The CSP deposited Rs. 1200 back in her account on 26 December.

Detailed Report

Details of family

Etwariya Devi, aged 67 years, lived with her son Ghura Vishwakarma (41 years), his wife Usha Devi (32 years) and their three children – Kiran Kumari (12 years), Sandhya Kumari (8 years) and Akash Vishwakarma (4 years).[1] Etwariya Devi’s husband passed away in 2007. Etwari Devi’s family lives in a kutcha house situated on a plot of around 7.5 decimals. They do not own any land, except the plot on which they live.

There are two rooms that are almost bare. Etwariya used to sleep on a bed of straw and some pieces of cloth (Annexure 1). The other room also has only a few clothes and tattered blankets. There are some containers that are used to store grains. According to the family, the containers have been lying empty since ages. In July, the family repaired the roof the house. One of the neighbours Devan Chhatrpati, gave some khapras for free, as the family did not have enough khapras. Wages of some people who had worked in repairing the roof are still pending.

According to Etwari’s family and others in the village, Ghura Vishwakarma is mentally not very sharp. He works as unskilled labourer. In absence of adequate work in the village, he migrates to other states. He was in Rajasthan for the last three months where he earned Rs. 220 a day. Normally, the contractors deposit his wages in his account every 30-45 days. But he has not received his remuneration for the work done in Rajasthan as he had to rush back after his mother’s death. Usha Devi works as unskilled labourer in local agricultural works.

Usha Devi has not repaid a loan of Rs. 3000 taken a few years ago. She paid Rs. 2000 as interest of the loan this year, but has not been able to repay the principal yet. The family had also borrowed Rs. 600 from a neighbor long back that has not been repaid yet. Usha Devi bought some groceries from the local grocery stores (for Rs. 70) this week, but is yet to pay them.

Details of death

Etwariya Devi passed away at around 11:00 am on 25 December 2017. According to Usha Devi, Etwariya Devi collapsed at around 10:00 am and passed away after an hour.  The block Pramukh visited the family and gave Rs. 1000 for performing the last rites. The block Nazir also visited. He told the family that the Block Development Officer said that the family should perform the last rites and that they would get the money for it later.

Availability of food in the family

  • According to the family, they did not have dinner on 24 December. Dinner was not cooked as there was no grain in the house. Usha Devi borrowed 1 kg rice from a neighbour Bihari Sharma in the morning of 25 December, but Etwariya Devi passed away before she could eat the food.
  • The family has a Priority Household card (ration card number 202000051498), under the National Food Security Act, which includes names of all the members, except Akash’s. The family is entitled to 25 kg of ration on their PH card, but did not get any ration in October and November (corroborated by the online transaction list for these two months). Usha Devi went to collect the ration in October, but her fingerprint did not work in the POS machine. The dealer told her “load nahi le raha hai” and asked her to come back later. However, the dealer made an entry of 25 kg for October in her ration card (Annexure 2). When she went back after a few days, the dealer told her that the ration stock was over. In November, the dealer told her that he had not received the ration stock.
  • In the morning of 25 December, Etwariya Devi saw the dealer cross in front of their house and she went after him shouting “ruka na dealer babu”, but the dealer did not stop. Another person of the dealer’s household was also crossing and he stopped after hearing Etwariya’s shouts. She asked him to give her the ration (“rationiya da na babu”), but he said that she would get grains the next day. The dealer visited their house on 25 December after Etwariya passed away and gave 30kg of rice to the family. On 27 December, Usha Devi got 30 kg rice after she authenticated her thumbprint in the POS machine, but the transaction was made for 50 kg (Annexure 3). The dealer also transacted 5 litre kerosene oil on her card, but she did not get oil. She said the family did not have any kerosene oil when Etwariya died and they had to keep the body in the dark for the whole night of 24 December.
  • Usha Devi said that she would normally cook food if she had grains at home, otherwise the family went hungry. In December, she borrowed 10 kg rice from a neighbour Fudan Sharma. She also bought rice for Rs. 400 (around 28 kgs at Rs. 14/kg) from another ration dealer of the village, Antu Prajapati.
  • The family cannot afford to eat dal and vegetables regularly. Usha Devi said that dal had not been cooked since the last few months. Sugar was not used by the family. Usha Devi had borrowed 1 kg sugar from the local kirana store on 27 December for the ritual ceremony of Etwariya. Cooking oil was also bought on a daily basis and at times, the family would eat only rice and salt.
  • According to Usha Devi, the family (with six members) needs around 2-2.5 kgs rice per day. In the last three months, she cooked less than that every day.
  • The neighbours present in the meeting with the fact-finding team also shared that the family was completely dependent on ration under NFSA. They also said that the family used to regularly borrow rice from others. According to some women present in the meeting, Etwariya Devi had grown weak in the last one month.

Access to old age pension

  • Etwariya Devi was a pensioner under the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme. She withdrew her pension from the Pragya Kendra (also functioning as the CSP of Grameen Bank) of her village, managed by Anil Chowdhary. She last received her pension in October 2017. She was not issued a passbook of that account; she had a printed copy mentioning the account details.
  • When she went to withdraw her pension for October, Anil Chowdhary said that she would be able to withdraw money only after getting a new account-receipt. Etwari’s earlier receipt was destroyed by mice. Anil took Rs. 360 to print the new receipt.
  • According to Usha Devi, Etwariya and Usha went to withdraw Etwari’s pension in November, but Anil said that the pension amount was not yet credited in Etwari’s account. They went again in December, but they were told “load nahi le raha hai” after authentication of the fingerprint. They did not go again to withdraw the pension. According to the Aadhaar-based status in Public Fund Management System (PFMS), pension amount of Rs. 600 was credited on 7 December (Annexure 4).

Access of the family to other social welfare programmes

  • When asked whether the family had a MGNREGA job card, Usha Devi produced one that was issued in 2006. As per the MGNREGA MIS, the card was deleted in 2013 and another card was issued to her family in 2015 (that was also verified in 2017 as part of the job card verification drive). But Usha Devi was not aware of this. Even though both she and her husband work as unskilled labourers, they have never worked in MGNREGA. Usha Devi said that MGNREGA works did not open in their village.
  • Usha Devi’s elder two children go to the local government school. They get mid-day meals regularly, but eggs are served only once a week. In place of eggs, they get an apple on Monday and a banana on Friday. The youngest son sometimes goes to the local anganwadi where he gets suji halwa.
  • Recently, some blankets were distributed in every Gram Panchayat, but this family did not receive . The Panchayat Sewak told them that all the blankets were taken by other families.

Access to health services

The family members get medicines from the local “desi” doctor. When Etwariya Devi fell sick a month ago (fever, cough and upset stomach), the doctor charged Rs. 600 for giving her medicines.  The money is still due.  The family also owes Rs. 400 to him for giving medicines to the children a few months ago.

Village-level findings

Public Distribution System

The people present in the meeting said that the dealer did not distribute ration in August 2017. As per the dealer, he was not allotted any grain for that month. They also said that the dealer did not distribute ration as per the transaction made in the POS machine. In October, he had transacted twice the monthly entitlement of grains and kerosene on most of the cards, but had distributed ration and oil only for a month. Many people complained that they did not get ration in November. Similarly, in December too, the dealer transacted twice the monthly entitlement of grains and kerosene on most of the cards, but distributed only half of it (corroborated by the online transaction list for October and December). The people also said that the dealer did not give the printed receipt to cardholders and cut 400-500 grams from each person’s monthly entitlement.

MGNREGA

People said that no MGNREGA work had happened in the village in the last two years. There are many people who work as unskilled labourers in the village and need work, but MGNREGA schemes are not implemented in the village.

Dealer’s statement

The dealer Chandradev Sharma said that he could not distribute ration in November as he was not allotted any ration for that month. He also said that he gave ration to Etwariya’s family in October 2017. When he was told that the online transaction list for October did not corroborate with his statement, he said that it was not possible. Ration could not be distributed in December, as the POS machine stopped working on 22 December. He got the machine fixed by 25 December. When he was asked why he did not use the “exception register” to distribute ration in December, he said that the register was only for exceptional cases and not for everyone. Even though he was aware of the order to maintain an exception register, he did not receive any letter regarding this from the department.

According to the online allotment list, Chandradev Sharma was allotted grain for October, November and December.

Statement of Pragya Kendra operator Anil Chowdhary (over phone on 29-30 December)

Etwaria Devi last withdrew a sum of Rs. 1200 from her account in October. She went to the CSP in November, but her pension for that month was not credited in her account. She went again on 4 December. A transaction of Rs. 503 was processed, but the internet connection broke right after she authenticated her thumbprint. As a result, the money was not credited in the CSP’s bank account and he could not give her the money. It happened again on 8 December when Etwariya Devi failed to withdraw Rs. 600. Both the times, Anil Chowdhary asked Etwariya to come again. Usha Devi visited the Pragya Kendra a couple of times to inquire about the money. The money (Rs. 503+600) was credited to the CSP’s account on 19 December, but Etwariya did not visit Anil Chowdhary to collect the money. Anil transferred the money (Rs. 1200) back to Etwariya’s account on 26 December. He also said that internet connectivity often broke in the middle of transactions. Statement of bank account of Etwariya from 1 November-26 December attached (Annexure 5).

[1] There is significant mismatch in the ages of the family members in various documents. Etwariya’s age is 67 years as per her Aadhaar, 68 years as per pension software (nsap.nic.in) and 88 years as per her ration card. Similarly, Usha Devi’s age is 32 years as per her Aadhaar and 44 as per the ration card.

For further information, please contact Siraj Dutta (9939819763) or Mithilesh Kumar (7979872149) or write at [email protected]

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India – WAKE UP- Aadhaar: Rapidly Disempowering the Old and Needy

The mindless mandatory linkage of biometric Aadhaar numbers to every aspect of our lives—from birth to death, plus telephones and banks accounts—is causing widespread harassment. It has, finally, woken up many who believed the hype that biometric identification was a gift to citizens and a world-beating technological leap. The number of people who are wary about the risks involved in linking Aadhaar to all activities has now risen dramatically, with details of its fallibility being reported every day by the media.
But the continued coercive tactics by phone companies, banks, insurers, cooking gas suppliers and regulators indicate that UIDAI (Unique Identification Development Authority of India) and the government are in no mood to listen, or even wait for the Supreme Court to hear the issue in January 2017.
Meanwhile, three things have worked at making people cautious. First, there is  growing evidence of how inefficient a biometric Aadhaar is; but I will discuss that later. Second, Aadhaar is not merely about acquiring an identification number; there will be a cost/fee involved in every authentication and updation (for those who are not net-savvy). The government has maintained a complete silence on the cost of Aadhaar updation and other mandatory services; but it will happen.
Third, most people are, finally, realising that biometrics change over your lifetime. This means that Aadhaar authentication can fail at any time and would need to be updated frequently (in case of senior citizens, it may have to be done even every year or two).
Sections 6 and 31(2) of the Aadhaar Act make it very clear that citizens’ biometrics change and people will have to “update their demographic information and biometric information and from time to time” in the manner specified by the UIDAI regulations. If you find it frustrating to update bank KYC (know your customer) every couple of years, get prepared for perpetual harassment of multiple updates every time you change your telephone service-provider, bank or insurer; or when your biometrics let you down.
While secure updation is not an issue for the tech-savvy, Aadhaar is a nightmare for vulnerable, less-literate people and it is extremely disempowering for senior citizens who will need to rely on ‘Aadhaar Kendras’ or bank officials to handle updation.
What is stunning is that UIDAI appoints enrollers and mandates linkages, but it provides no recourse to those who are cheated by enrolment agents and banks. If you are a victim, you will end up fighting a legal battle or chasing the police for redress.
Consider another aspect. Like direct debits for loan repayment and standing instructions for credit card and other payments, the effort involved in the Aadhaar updation exercise will make us even more reluctant to change service-providers and put up with shoddy service. This makes a mockery of competition and choice in a free market.
Interestingly, even the Institute of Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has called for caution in use of Aadhaar for government programmes based on a study of implementation in Andhra Pradesh. It says that it is also unclear if, in the long run, the benefits of Aadhaar will outweigh the negatives.
Let us look at how people across the economic spectrum are already affected. On 1st December, Premani Kunwar, a 64-year old widow died of starvation. Her old-age pension was credited into the account of her husband’s  dead first wife who had a valid bank account with updated KYC. It is alleged that Premani and her relative operated two bank accounts linked to the same Aadhaar to which funds were transferred, even 20 years after her death. The case reeks of collusion between bank officials and a nephew, who has been arrested; it also exposes the easy manipulation of records and its devastating impact on the very poor.
At another end of the spectrum is N Vadia, a high net-worth chartered accountant, who had his bank account abruptly frozen by HDFC Bank for failure to update KYC. While Mr Vadia claims that the Bank never informed him, HDFC Bank, which relentlessly spams everybody throughout the day, claims to have sent multiple messages. There is no explanation why it failed to follow RBI rules prescribing graded freezing of the account, or couldn’t have made a call. Instead, it even dishonoured RTGS/NEFT credits. Since the banking ombudsman rarely rules in favour of customers, Mr Vadia will have to battle it out in a consumer court, switch banks or simply accept shoddy HDFC Bank service. In effect, he is only slightly less vulnerable than Premani Kunwar. Failure of biometrics adds another tool of harassment to this situation.
In the previous issue, I wrote about Ravindra, a 64-year old Central government officer, who, harried by repeated failure of Aadhaar authentication, wrote, “I am desperate and sometimes start thinking of ending of my life. It is getting too much for me to handle.” Ravindra’s issue also is the lack of redress, no recourse or empathy and fear of disempowerment. Writing to UIDAI was of no use. Instead he received gratuitous advice to procure a phone in his son’s name, thereby defeating the very purpose of linkage, disempowering the senior citizen and placing a needless burden on his son/relative.
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Now, imagine the plight of the 82-year old in Mumbai, who was curtly told by an Airtel employee that he could not have his SIM (subscriber identification module) card transferred from his daughter’s name to his own, despite having all identification documents including Aadhaar. Why? Apparently because Airtel has an unwritten policy not to issue SIM cards to people over 75 because “they may die soon.”
Dnyanada Deshpande, a journalist standing in the same queue, was a witness to this atrocity. Ironically, she says, he wanted to transfer the phone to his name (from that of his daughter) because it had to be linked to his Aadhaar and, in turn, to his bank account. Neither the government nor the UIDAI has bothered to respond to thousands of such senior citizens posting angry or plaintive complaints on the National Consumer Complaints Forum (https://www.complaintboard.in/complaints-reviews/aadhar-card-l231003.html).
Then there is Airtel Payment Bank, which colluded with its telecom provider, Bharti Airtel, to open illegal accounts for subscribers who linked their Aadhaar to the phone and diverted over Rs138 crore of subsidies to these accounts. It was fined Rs2.5 crore by UIDAI, but the 560,000 consumers who were harassed got no compensation; getting their money back was the only reward. This case raises serious issues about sharing of data between related entities and account opening procedures followed by payment banks; but RBI has been silent so far.
Whether it is the uneducated Premani who lost her life, a helpless Ravinder or the tech-savvy N Vadia, every consumer segment today is equally vulnerable to coercive actions or fraud by bankers and other service-providers in the opaque Aadhaar environment. We are not even talking about data security. a more serious issue.
Forced linkage to Aadhaar, no matter what the government claims, will leave too many people, especially less tech-savvy senior citizens and the faceless and nameless poor, extremely vulnerable to fraud. What is worse, a government, which is in the habit of repeatedly changing its goal-posts and objectives, is not called upon to explain its claim that it will help unearth black money.
Senior citizens, many above 80, are active, independent, and sometimes living on their own while capable of looking after themselves and their needs. But they are unable to face the unique harassment unleashed by our biometrics-based system. Even as new deadlines loom, there is no solution in sight. If the Supreme Court rules in favour of the government, be prepared to be forever vigilant about your savings and to keep jumping through hoops each time the government, RBI or UIDAI issues a new notification or your biometrics fail you.
http://www.moneylife.in/article/aadhaar-rapidly-disempowering-the-old-and-needy/52633.html
 

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India – 14 year-old Idiya with Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder opposes #Aadhaar

Her disease to affect fingerprint, so she opposes Aadhaar

HIGHLIGHTS

Idiya Pal suffers from a rare connective tissue disorder.Idiya Pal suffers from a rare connective tissue disorder.

NEW DELHI: In May this year, 14-year-old Idiya Pal drew a cartoon against Aadhaarand posted it online. The young, home-schooled pianist was a year ago diagnosed with a genetical disease that may lead to her losing her fingerprints and this was her first step towards activism.
Almost seven months later, accompanied by her father and a family friend, she is holding her first public protest. They stand on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg holding a black banner. While Adarish Pal, Idiya’s father, and Gaurav Satyaprakash explain the concept of Aadhaar and argue that it violates the privacy of an individual, Idiya goes around distributing flyers to passersby.

Idiya was against Aadhaar from the time she can remember but the latest trigger was a news report she saw this summer. “I made a cartoon on it. Then my father and I kept looking for a platform to show others my work and to participate in the discussions on the issue. That’s how we found a Facebook page named ‘Say no to Aadhaar/UID’ which had been created by some activists almost five years back,” she recalls.

She suffers from Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting connective tissues. These tissues hold the cells, organs and other tissues together. As these are present throughout the body, it affects every part of the body, and in certain cases, as in Idiya’s, leads to illegible fingerprints, making her ineligible for benefits under Aadhaar

“I know that I will lose my fingerprints, so it is much more important for me to stand up and tell people why it is a problem,” she says. “Voluntary is the word. Whoever wants to get an Aadhaar should get it and whoever doesn’t should not. How can the entire identity of a person rest on a card? We are not anti-government but we are anti-Aadhaar,” she adds.

The three were supposed to be joined by many other activists but they pulled out. “I don’t know why they pulled out,” says Adarish Pal. “Everyone these days believes in armchair activism,” he says.

Pal, an inventor and environmentalist, who has many patents to his name, says he was made aware of the “drawbacks” of Aadhaar by his friends’ daughter. “She is a government employee and does not have an Aadhaar card yet. She explained how it is so easy to tamper with your details and biometrics in Aadhaar and if this happens you will lose your identity,” he says.

Satyaprakash debates the issue with many people and explains to them what they consider to be the demerits of Aadhaar. “Children are denied admission into schools. Have they evaded any tax,” he asks.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/her-disease-to-affect-fingerprint-so-she-opposes-aadhaar/articleshow/62311485.cms

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Former Karnataka HC Judge Justice Anand Byrareddy Joins Challenge Against #Aadhaar

BY: APOORVA MANDHANI…

Former Karnataka High Court Judge, Justice Anand Byrareddy has filed an Impleadment Application before the Supreme Court challenging the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016. .
Another former Karnataka High Court Judge, Justice K Puttaswamy is the main petitioner in the original
aadhaar case. Justice Byrareddy begins by highlighting the fact that the Act does not distinguish between citizens and non-citizens, alleging that this leaves the system open to abuse and poses “serious security threat”. To this end, he contends, “It is most respectfully submitted that the Aadhaar Act and the scheme of the entire mechanism set up under that statute shakes the very legit.imacy of the political unit of the welfare state of India, inasmuch as the same fails to account for and be responsible for the welfare of this country’s citizenry. It is not a trifling matter that the Aadhaar Act fails to distinguish between a citiz.n and a resident/migrant/immigrant (legal and illegal). It is humbly submitted that under the Aadhaar Act, the qualifying criteria for enrolment is that of residence in India for the stipulated period of one hundred eighty two (182) days in the twelvmonths preceding the date of application for enrolment vide Section 2(v) read with Section 3 thereof… …
Therefore, given the state of the Indian economics, it is trite that without remedying the lot of its citizenry if a statutory measure seeks to impart benefits in the form of subsidies and other targeted financial aids to non-citizens the same is blatantly arbitrary and demonstrates an utter non-application of mind.”…
The Application then goes on to allege that the Act violates the Fundamental Right of privacy of citizens, as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, “since biometric and demographic information is collected under the Scheme as a  mandatory condition precedent, while the safeguard mechanisms provided are wholly inadequate, either in practice or in a statutory framework to ensure the security of such sensitive data”…
This differentiation, it says, is also violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, explaining, “…the Aadhaar Act insofar as it is mandated under Section 4(3) thereof shall be the ‘proof of identity for any purpose’ and therefore treats different …lasses of individuals equally. This is crucial to note since most of the State benefits, for effective disbursement whereof the scheme is sought to be introduced, accrue to the citizens alone and therefore a scheme encompassing residents’ is patently arbitrary and against the very professed objective for which the statute is sought to be enacted……
Furthermore, the Aadhaar Act, is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution insofar as it seeks to create a wrongful classification amongst a homogeneous group of entitled persons – (i) the ones with an Aadhaar number; and (ii) the ones without an A..an Aadhaar number, the same is arbitrary. It is to be noted that this artificial classification also has no rational nexus to the objects of the constitutional and statutory obligations contained in the Directive Principles of the State Policy, fundamental rights chapter and statutes and programmes with respect to financial subsidies, benefits and services. Therefore, the Aadhaar Act cannot survive constitutional muster of Article 14 and is liable to be struck down in its entirety.”…

It further points out that although the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is in possession of the data, it has no legal liability for any theft, fraud, crime and compromise of any security or privacy. Besides, the fact that it has been…made compulsory has also been impugned, pointing out that the scheme deprives people of services if they do not link them to Aadhaar….

 

 

The Application, thereafter, contends that the passing of the Aadhaar Bill as a Money Bill “amounts to a fraud on the Constitution of India“, and demands, “In light of the above, it is of crucial importance that this Hon’ble Court declares the Aadhaar Act to be unconstitutional on the aforestated grounds for being deeply invasive of the fundamental right of personal privacy and for the infirmities as more fully elaborated above. Consequently, the further notifications published by the Respondents . are also required to be adjudicated and declared as unconstitutional for falling foul of constitutional protections guaranteed to the citizens of this country, including the Applicant herein….

the menace of the Aadhaar architecture, which imperils the cherished fundamental rights of the citizenry can only be adequately protected if status quo ante is restored, i.e., the collected data of the citizens under either the Aadhaar/UID policy prior to the enactment of the statute or under the patently unconstitutional Aadhaar Act, are destroyed leaving no scope for any continuing imperilment of the rights, liberty and life of the people of this country including the Applicant.“…

Read more at: http://www.livelaw.in/former-karnataka-hc-judge-justice-anand-byrareddy-joins-challenge-aadhaar-files-impleadment-application-sc/..

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PM Modi’s Dec 31st Speech Became A Joke

PM claims Haj credit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Mann Ki Baat” that was aired other day (December 31st Sunday) became a joke of sorts. This is because PM claimed one of his achievements for Muslim women, which sounded like a mere joke, but that’s not his achievement at all.

Every year, many Muslims from India go to Haj Pilgrimage that is carefully looked after by the government. Surprisingly, women cannot go alone on this pilgrimage without the presence of a male companion. Talking about this PM Modi stated that he got shocked after finding such a barbaric rule in place and claimed that after 70 years of Independence he got that rule relaxed to help his Muslim sisters.

In reality, a Woman travelling to Haj should actually be accompanied by a man, a close relative (Mehram) is a rule set by Saudi Arabia. No country could break it because they won’t receive those women without a mehram at airport and deport them back.

But now, after the recent change in the monarchy in the desert country, they are seen moving towards moderate-Islam rather a strict conservative one. In that process, Saudi now relaxed rules and stated that women travelling in a group of more than 45 members to Mecca need not have a male companion. But they should carry an attested copy of a consent letter signed by father or brother or son.

 

Riyadh used to insist that travelling women be accompanied by a close male relative, triggering controversy in 2012 when over 1,000 Nigerian women were asked to return from Jeddah after arriving for Haj without mehram (a male companion).

Saudi Arabia recently relaxed the rule, allowing over-45 women to undertake Haj without mehram if they travelled in an organised group, their Islamic school allowed it, and each woman carried a notarised certificate from her father, brother or son allowing her to travel with that particular group.

It’s therefore possible for countries to have bilateral agreements with Riyadh to facilitate non- mehram travel for over-45 women Haj pilgrims, and India’s minority affairs ministry has decided to do so for Haj in 2018.

On Sunday, in his monthly radio broadcast, the Prime Minister appeared to be suggesting that mehram was an Indian rule that he had revoked, a claim in line with efforts to project him as a messiah for Muslim women since the introduction of a bill criminalising the instant talaq.

“When I first heard about it ( mehram), I wondered how it could be possible. Who would have drafted such rules? Why this discrimination? And when I went into the depth of the matter I was surprised to find that, even 70 years after Independence, we were the ones who had imposed these restrictions,” he said in his Mann Ki Baat address.

“For decades, injustice was being rendered to Muslim women but there was no discussion on it. Even in many Islamic countries this practice does not exist. But Muslim women in India did not have this right. And I’m glad that our government paid heed to this matter.”

On October 7, when the committee tasked to draw up the Haj policy for 2018-22 recommended that mehram be demanded only of women under 45, minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had told The Telegraph this was now possible because of the Saudi relaxation. He had added that 1,300 Indian women had applied to perform Haj without mehram.

On Sunday, Modi said he had told the ministry that women who had applied to travel alone for Haj should be exempt from the lottery in the spirit of women’s empowerment.

Immediately after Modi’s address, Naqvi tweeted: “After PM Shri @narendramodi Ji’s suggestion, I assure that those about 1,300 women, who have applied to go for Haj without mehram (male companion), will be exempted from the lottery system and allowed to proceed on Haj.”

Zakat Foundation’s Zafar Mahmood, the first secretary for Haj at the Indian consulate in Jeddah between 1988 and 1991, confirmed that mehram had been a Saudi requirement that every country had to follow.

“It’s only in the last couple of years that Saudi Arabia has relaxed the rules, and so now countries can avail of the relaxation,” he told this newspaper.

 

Now, what is that PM Modi has done to claim that India will now allow Women Haj Pilgrims to travel without a male companion when Saudi’s new rule is the real thing? Asking the same question, netizens are commenting, “PM Modi told a perfect last joke for 2017”.

http://www.gulte.com/news/63224/PM-Modis-Dec-31st-Speech-Became-A-Joke

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Gujarat – Bal Doctors to ‘treat’ children at school #WTFnews

Ashish Chauhan| TNN | 

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat, which has been witnessing a shortfall of specialist doctors especially in rural areas, has come up with a new concept — that of ‘Bal Doctor’ (Kid Doctor) who will look after children’s health under the school health programme.
Officials of the state health department said that a Bal Doctor named Kajal Bhupatbhai Khant (11) who is a student of class 6 in a government school in Navagam village of Arvalli district, has been nominated as part of a pilot project in primary schools.

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These Bal Doctors will be equipped with stethoscopes and medicines which they will dispense to their classmates. The Bal Doctors will be given a stock of ayurvedic medicines to deal with any health related issue, said officials.

An order of the health department to the primary schools reads: “One Bal Doctor will be appointed in each primary school for which the state education department and the health department will function jointly.”

“These Bal Doctors will give Ayurvedic treatment in cases of minor diseases. They will encourage other students to wash their hands before mid-day meal. They will also monitor Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) Programme (of the National Health Mission) which is held every Wednesday. They will work to make their fellow students addiction-free and give primary information about seasonal diseases,” reads the order.

The Bal Doctor will be given an apron and badge so that he looks like a doctor. “He will be additionally given a torch, Ayurvedic medicine kit, booklets and posters of health-related problems,” said a health official. He will also be trained under a Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) of the health department.

A nodal teacher will be appointed by the health and education department to monitor the Bal Doctor’s activities.

“In every school, we are trying to introduce the concept of Child Doctor so that we can orient young people. We went to a primary school in Navagam village in Arvalli district and identified a Bal Doctor last week with the help of students and teachers. We also gave her a kit with stethoscope and a kit of medicines, including Ayurvedic medications. The kids identified as Bal Doctors might become a doctor tomorrow,” Dr Jayanti Ravi, state health commissioner, told TOI.

However, office-bearers of the Gujarat chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA) did not like the idea of giving the responsibility of doctor to a kid.

“Though I am not aware of the initiative, I can definitely say that this must not happen,” said Dr Yogendra Modi, president of Gujarat state branch of IMA.

“We only believe in allopathic medicines and a person must be considered as a doctor only after he has completed 5.5 years of MBBS. This concept of allowing a school kid to give medicines is not proper,” Dr Modi said

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/bal-doctors-to-treat-children-at-school/articleshow/62300788.cms

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