Friday, November 03, 2017

Gujarat's two top ex-IAS babus join four others, denounce Aadhaar's "unauthorized" use by touts, write to Modi

By Our Representative
Six top ex-IAS bureaucrats, including two belonging to the Gujarat cadre, CK Koshy and , Dr VV Rama Subba Rao, both of whom served as additional chief secretaries, industry and home, respectively, in the Gujarat government, have taken strong exception to making Aadhaar compulsory, insisting that step by step, it is encroaching upon and disrupting the lives ordinary people, denying entitlements, particularly to the poor.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the six former IAS officials have particularly objected to the government adopting what they call "a laissez-faire approach" to Aadhaar, adding, there is complete "absence of effective regulation and control", leading to "unauthorised trading of personal data, rent seeking by intermediaries and touts, issuance of fake cards, targeting of Aadhaar number holders, and such like abuses."
Pointing out that the CEO of the Unique Identity of India (UIDAI), which is supposed to own Aadhaar, "has registered about 40,000 cases for various malpractices", the ex-officials say, "The penal provisions in the Act have not proved to be a serious deterrent."
The four other IAS officials who have signed the letter are -- MK Bezboruah, former Chairman, 3rd Delhi Finance Commission; Surjit Kishore Das, former Chief Secretary, Government of Uttarakhand; Kamal Kant Jaswal, former Secretary, Government of India; and Lalit Mathur, formerly Director General, NIRD, Union Ministry of Rural Development.
"The recent hacking of Aadhaar data by an IIT alumnus has demonstrated how fragile the system is", the ex-officials say, adding, "The unabated seeding of Aadhaar in different databases has introduced new vulnerabilities into the system by providing access to hitherto isolated silos through a common platform."
Pointing out how private entities are allowed to get away with their wrong doing, the ex-officials cite a "campaign of the team led by Sharad Sharma of iSpirit and IndiaStack, entities that are deeply involved with the Aadhaar enterprise". They add, "When these individuals were exposed on social media, instead of being chastised for spreading falsehoods, they were actually congratulated by Nandan Nilekani and other luminaries of the industry for being ‘brave’ enough to apologise!"
"With vested interests of such stature in support, Aadhaar seems to have descended into the realm of post-truth", they say, adding, "It is incredible that no one really knows how Aadhaar has been performing. This is because the UIDAI, which is the sole repository of all information on Aadhaar, has resolved not to disclose any data; it has even refused information under the RTI, on grounds of national security."
Pointing towards how unreliable Aadhaar dependence on fingerprint biometrics, based on "an intrinsically unreliable technology", is, the ex-officials , "The UIDAI’s own proof of concept (POC) trials for fingerprint recognition showed an error of up to 15 percent with the best finger", adding, "The implications are serious and worrisome... With a population of 80 crore under PDS, rejections can be as high as 12 crore", as evident "from reports and surveys in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand."
"According to the State of Aadhaar Report 2016 -17 by IDinsight, in the case of pensions in Andhra Pradesh, the rate of fingerprint authentication failure after three attempts was as high as 17.4 percent. In Telangana, the failure rate under MGNREGA averaged 7.8 percent", the ex-IAS bureaucrats note.
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Click HERE for complete letter

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