Ram Krishnaswamy

APRIL 15, 2013

This is a guest post by Ram Krishnaswamy For the last three years activists opposing Aadhaar/UID have argued that it can lead to communal targeting, can aid illegal migrants, can invade privacy, is unconstitutional, does not have parliamentary approval, is illegal, etc. Yet all such objections and more have been successfully stonewalled by UIDAI and UPA leaders.

Further, Aadhaar is not compulsory and so such allegations are considered invalid. The middle and upper class Indians have remained silent about the UID debate, as it does not affect them in the least. The long lines of persons stretching before UID enrollment centers must be proof, then, of the popularity of this concept.

Nandan Nilekani and UIDAI Director General R.S Sharma have repeatedly told the nation that UID, now called Aadhaar, is not mandatory. Yet, over a period of time, they say, it could become ubiquitous, if service providers insist upon it compulsorily, in order to receive their services. To quote UIDAI Chairman, Nandan Nilekani, “Yes, it is voluntary. But the service providers might make it mandatory. In the long run I wouldn’t call it compulsory. I’d rather say it will be come ubiquitous.”

From the time GOI toyed with the idea of a Unique Identity number for the poor and the marginalized Indian population, the nation has been told Aadhaar is not compulsory.

Ever wondered why?

One question activists have never asked is, “Why is Aadhaar not compulsory?”

The reason is so obvious, and staring us in the face all along, yet no one seems to have picked it up. This question throws more light on what is going on and why.

On the very face of it, both these schemes “UID/NPR and Cash Transfers” echo Mohammad Bin Tughlaq – the wisest fool in India’s history so far. Schemes like these are not the way to build a great nation; indeed they may be exactly the way to create a generation of paupers. Poverty was “good” until the time the poor had the dignity to fight it out and move up the ladder. Pauperization however, would kill the very consciousness and self-dignity critical for a nation of 1 billion plus to survive and march forward.

The history of the human race suggests that master position-holders always wanted some form of identification of their slaves. The slave’s name and family links were not adequate. Galley slaves had the letters GAL burnt into their arms. In imperial Russia the Katorshniki (public slaves) were branded in a grisly manner – the letters KAT being punctured on their cheeks and forehead; and gunpowder rubbed into their wounds. In several countries, slaves had their heads shorn, except for a pigtail from the crown. The shorn head was symbolic of castration, loss of manliness, power and freedom. Slavery is one of the most extreme forms of the relation of domination approaching the limits of total power from the view point of the master and the total powerlessness from the view point of the slave. All power strives for authority.

In the current context in India, the “Master” is the State, which suggests that the poor need just Rs 32 a day to survive, while the bourgeois masters can afford to spend Rs 500 for a meal. The “slaves” are the Indian population living below poverty levels, who are told that, unless you have a number linked to finger prints, you will not be allowed to avail subsidised grain at Rupees 3 a kilo. A slave in India today is a socially dead person who can be identified only by a number issued by the master, and not his/her  paternity, or maternity, or other social links to the world.

The question that many activists have often been asked is, “Why should you worry about privacy, if you do not have anything to hide?” The corollary to this question just hit me today, “People who have something to hide certainly do not want a Unique Identity number which is linked to their biometrics, meaning their fingerprints and iris scan.”

Recent sting operations suggest that many banks in India facilitate money laundering allowing corrupt individuals with black money to convert them into white money without the person’s identity being questioned. It is amazing how easily the bankers assist in converting unaccounted black money to white. Now imagine how the corrupt in India would react to Aadhaar being compulsory. The Aadhaar number and associated biometrics can be used by law enforcement agencies to link and expose all hidden stashes, not only in India but even in Swiss banks and Singapore banks, now that Singapore is the haven for parking illegal funds.

If Aadhaar is made compulsory over time, the associated biometrics could be used to expose all corrupt bureaucrats, politicians and businessmen, making them all vulnerable.  Surely the government does not want to facilitate such a monster. That is why Aadhaar is not compulsory. It is time for all activists to challenge UIDAI Chairman and UPA II government to make Aadhaar compulsory, and help flush out the cancer that is eating the nation from within.

Mr Nilekani, once you asked the question, “What am I? A virus?”

Prove to us you are not a virus, by making Aadhaar compulsory for all Indians, rich and poor, and show us that your Imagining India was a genuine attempt to serve the nation.

Surely you do not want to facilitate a system where all people are equal, except some people are more equal than others, and have the right to decline an Aadhaar. But rest assured, the day UIDAI and GOI make Aadhaar compulsory, the nation, meaning the rich and powerful, will show you their true colours regarding UID.

As a Nation we should join hands and ask UPA II the question:

“Why is Aadhaar not compulsory ?”

Why does Aadhaar discriminate the haves and have-nots creating a new caste system that will further divide an all ready fragmented country?

Aadhaar is not compulsory so that low life criminal elements like murderers, rapists, embezzlers, tax avoiders, income tax fraudsters, corrupt bureaucrats and politicians and even potential terrorists can continue fearlessly, without  Aadhaar & biometrics to elude law enforcement.

Here are a few notable quotes from people opposing Aadhaar: 

  • “NPR & UID aiding Aliens” – Narendra Modi
  • “UID may aid Communal Targetting” – Aruna Roy & Nikhil Dey, NAC Members
  • “Unique Identity Scheme will take away the Privacy of Indian Citizens” – Mathew Thomas
  • “UID Project Will Make Constitution Of India A Dead Document” – S.G.Vombatkere
  • “Aadhaar will institutionalise Poverty” – Ram Krishnaswamy
  • “UID project is full of ambiguity, confusions and suspicions, but no answers” – Usha Ramanathan
  • “Aadhaar is UIDAI’s unsolicited Testimonials to the Biometric Industry” – David Moss, UK
  • “It is a Bad Idea to Marry UID with NREGA” – Reetika Khera
  • “Nilekani’s reporting structure is unprecedented in history; he reports directly to the Prime Minister, thus bypassing all checks and balances in government” – Home Minister Chidambaram
  • “Aadhaar is not compulsory — it is just a voluntary “facility.” UIDAI’s concept note stresses that “enrolment will not be mandated.” But there is a catch: “… benefits and services that are linked to the UID will ensure demand for the number.” This is like selling bottled water in a village after poisoning the well, and claiming that people are buying water voluntarily. The next sentence is also ominous: “This will not, however, preclude governments or registrars from mandating enrollment.” – Jean Dreze, Visiting Prof of Economics, Uni of Allahabad, Ex-NAC Member
  • “Aadhaar was meant to deduplicate peoples ID’s and Aadhaar itself is a Duplicate of NPR and needs deduplication” – Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) headed by Secretary Sumit Bose.
  • “Nilekani’s technocratic obsession with gathering data is consistent with that of Bill Gates as though lack of information is what is causing world hunger” – Arundhati Roy
  • “Which is the bigger crime, a poor family double dipping on PDS to stay alive, or Govt wasting mega bucks on a white elephant called Aadhaar?” – Ram Krishnaswamy
  • “In Reality, Aadhaar intrudes into peoples privacy that is hidden under the guise of reaching out” – Srijit Misra
  • “Privacy is not something that people feel, except in its absence. Remove it and you destroy something at the heart of being human” –  Phil Booth, No2ID
  • “The UID is a corporate scam which funnels billions of dollars into the IT sector” – Arundhati Roy
  • “Aadhaar is Built on a Platform of Myths” – R. RamaKumar
  • “If our Government is selling the Country, then we should know at least who they are selling it to” – Veeresh Malik
  • “UID is a ‘Unique Indian Donkey’ that will collapse under the load” – Ram Krishnaswamy
  • The strongest voice opposing finger printing was raised by none other than Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation who said, “Let us begin by being clear… about General Smuts’ new law. All Indians must now be fingerprinted… like criminals. Men and women. No marriage other than a Christian marriage is considered valid. Under this act our wives and mothers are whores. And every man here is a bastard.”

But then, who in UPA II even remembers Mahatma Gandhi today, leave alone what he said in South Africa?


Ram Krishnaswamy is an IIT Madras alumnus living in Sydney who has opposed UID/Aadhaar since 2009 and hosts Aadhaar Articles Blog Spot (http://aadhararticles.blogspot.com.au/)