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Aadhaar – Destruction of Good Governance , end of Swarajya

Aadhaar, a billion strong today, heralds the destruction of good governance and the end of swarajya.
A woman gets her eyes scanned in the pilot phase of Aadhar, the UID project.

According to the UIDAI almost no person issued an Aadhaar needed any ID as they already had at least two other IDs. UIDAI also admits that it does not certify the identity, address, or even the very existence of an Aadhaar number holder. Since the UIDAI has never undertaken any audit or verification of its data there is no possibility that it can certify identity, address or even existence of the Aadhaar holder. No wonder the UIDAI also emphasizes that it is a mere framework assigning a number to demographic and biometric data submitted by private enrolment parties.

For government agencies, despite repeated orders from the Supreme Court to the contrary, Aadhaar became mandatory to deliver subsidies, benefits and services to the common man. It ushered in a class system of those with and without Aadhaar and made PAN cards, Election cards, Ration cards, Passports, Drivers licenses etc. insufficient to access rights to live in India. In a hurry to deliver “good” governance, no one in government even examined if Aadhaar stands the test of being free of fraud, duplicates and stolen identities.

The Aadhaar Bill, passed in a great hurry and controversy, as a Money Bill takes the powers of qualifying you for subsidy, benefits and services from individual Ministries and passes them to the UIDAI. In case your ID is stolen or your authentication fails, you have no recourse. This Bill does not offer any redress all mechanism nor does it allow the courts to take congnizanse of your plight unless the UIDAI asks it to.

Since the Aadhaar number is issued to all residents, it cannot distinguish a citizen from a resident. Residents will enjoy the same subsidies, benefits and services as citizens.

To enjoy these subsidies, benefits and services you must now be authenticated by UIDAI. According to the UIDAI Aadhaar based authentication does not provide any information to any requesting agency. It merely replies with “yes” “no” answers to match data with another database record. With e-authentication, or doing away with the need for physical presence of an Aadhaar holder, anyone in possession with of your Aadhaar number or demographic and biometric details can now be authenticated as you. This allows for your subsidies, benefits and services to be siphoned off. This is a crime that is undetectable. Even if it is detected, no court can take cognizance without the permission of the UIDAI. This also makes you liable for any crimes committed with your Aadhaar number.

The Rajya Sabha had passed amendments to make the Aadhaar voluntary and even allow persons to have their Aadhaar data be wiped out. They asked Aadhaar to be restricted to government use. They requested the CAG and CVC to have oversight over the UIDAI. They even requested amendment that an Aadhaar number information only be accessible in a national emergency. Even without waiting for a few hours to read and sink in the recommendation of the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha rejected them and passed the Aadhaar Bill.

Arun Jaitley told the Members of Parliament that Aadhaar helped save Rs 15,000 crore due to “targeted” LPG subsidy. Research done by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) contests this claim. Their computations indicate that  the benefit from Aadhaar in the scheme through de-duplication of records was at best limited to Rs 12-14 crore in 2014-15 and about Rs 120.90 crore in 2015-16, that, too, before accounting for any additional costs. IISD estimates the costs of implementing Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) Rs. 1,343 crore (USD 200 million) – ten times greater than the fiscal saving from integration into DBT in FY 2015/16. It is also estimated that much of the “saving” is because consumers have been denied subsidy if they did not link bank accounts to their LPG consumer numbers after DBT. With such “targeted”delivery no one will ever know of leakages in the system.

The implementation of this Bill will clearly bode difficult times for citizens. Whether you are with or without an Aadhaar, you may face the indignity of being denied or having to justify your rights to subsidies, benefits and services. Very likely you will also be denied justice as your rights are snatched away by an unequal class. The swarajya of Tilak is clearly dead.

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