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Monday, 17 September 2012 14:31

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had done no homework before starting its job,” said social activist Dr Usha Ramnathan in her speech in a debate on ‘Is there any necessity of UID’ organised by the Lohia Academy here on Sunday. She said the UID project is not governed by any law.

Stating that the National Population Registrar (NPR) which collects bio-metric data is flouting the law and the whole exercise being undertaken in the country is illegal, Ramnathan said NPR is governed by law but it is exceeding what the law envisages. On the other hand, UID is a project which is not governed by any law, she said.

UIDAI in its own report said, the people were anxious while giving their fingerprints in the UID camps. Even the people wondered about the reason of taking their fingerprint and in what way it would benefit them, the report added. The Government has imposed a technology which the people of the country know nothing about. The UID project is more urban-centric, said the participants during the debate.

“We don’t have any Indian bio-metric company in the project. They are publicly saying that they would encrypt the data and it would be safe, but it won’t. Other modern technologies could hack that. The latest technology would break the earlier technology and the hacked data may pass into the hands of some outsiders. Then why we all are putting some imaginations at risk where there is no meaning,” said Ramnathan.

Ramnathan said India in the 90’s had started the process of delegation of power to the people and in the last decade it brought the Right to Information Act which has given a democratic space for the people of the country. But the Central Government again wants to centralise power by using the UIDAI project which would take all the data of an individual, she added.

She also said the companies work hierarchically, but democracy does not. “When you bring a company person, you cannot expect him to understand democracy, he would understand only hierarchy. The people who have worked most of their lives in top positions of a company, how can we expect that they would work taking people’s perspectives into account,” she asked.

Ramnathan lamented that the Government has become very greedy to know every details of every individual. “I have the right to know everything about our State but the State has no right to know everything about me. In that way the State wants to govern us and control us like a colonial State. Now the people who have the power are behaving like colonial rulers, which is neither Constitutional nor a good politics and no democratic country in the world is working in this manner,” said Ramanathan.

Participating in the debate, Gopal Krishna of the Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties at New Delhi said the proposal of merging the Election ID cards with UID makes a mockery of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance on UID Bill. It is noteworthy that all Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have UID as well. Notably Land Titling Bill makes a provision for linking land titles to UIDs of Indian residents, he added.

These acts of convergence would undermine the Constitutional rights and change the meaning of democracy, he said, adding, “It is an act of changing both the form and content of democracy and democratic rights in a new technology-based regime where technologies and technology companies are beyond regulation because they are bigger than the Government and legislatures.”