Skip to main content

"BJP" MP joins Opposition in attacking aadhaar's mandatory status, as minister talks of its welfare thrust

By Our Representative
Senior minister in the Narendra Modi government Ravi Shankhar Prasad, in charge of law and justice and IT, sought to assure the Rajya Sabha on Monday that no person would be denied welfare entitlements for lack of aadhaar, but refused to say whether any steps would be taken to withdraw the notifications making it mandatory.
A civil society organization, Rethink Aadhaar Campaign (RAC), commented soon after Prasad made his intervention: "No concrete steps or plans to keep aadhaar truly voluntary were given by Prasad. Empty words and rhetoric continue, as pensioners, ration card holders, and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers are pushed further into poverty and exclusion."
Interestingly, the heated short duration discussion on aadhaar began with MP Rajeev Chandrashakhar, close to the BJP, expressing apprehensions about it, and opposition MPs followed suit by criticizing the notifications making aadhaar mandatory for essential services. 
Opposition MPs raised the issue of the violation of the Supreme Court’s orders and exclusions due to Aadhaar in many welfare programmes. The Supreme Court had allowed only voluntary use of aadhaar and that too for only six government schemes, they added. 
Chandrashekhar raised concerns regarding verification of the database. He pointed out that before the Aadhaar Act was passed in 2016, 100 crore people had already been enrolled, but no verification of the UID database had been carried out.
Chandrashekhar also pointed out that the Standing Committee on Finance on Aadhaar had concluded that the database was going to be ineffective even for the purposes of directing subsidies. He reminded the house that the Leader of the House had conceded that privacy is a fundamental right even without the Supreme Court saying so.
Jairam Ramesh (Congress) followed suit by saying that Aadhaar had become a tool of exclusion in the Public Distribution System (PDS), MGNREGS and social security pensions. adding, it is in violation of the orders of the Supreme Court of India. 
In Rajasthan, he said, 10 lakh pensioners had been removed from the list of beneficiaries, adding, 
in Bhim (Rajsamand district) almost 1500 out of 3000 elderly whose names were cut after being declared “dead” or “duplicates”, were found to be alive and were restored their pensions. 
In the PDS the exclusion rate in Rajasthan was 25 per cent, according to government figures, i.e. 25 lakh people had not got rations since aadhaar-based biometric authentication was made mandatory, he said.
Derek O'Brien (Trinamool Congress) pointed out that there was no regulation and no information on the third parties that have access to the UID database. 
"Have you considered how other databases of Natgrid  and health are being linked to aadhaar and raised concerns on data use and data security?" KTS Tulsi, noted lawyer, wondered, adding, he has never seen as poor statutory framing in his life as in the Aadhaar Act. 
A Navneethakrishnan (AIADMK) and D Raja (CPI) also expressed concerns about denial of benefits due to various failures of aadhaar.
In his reply, Prasad said, the CAG report on LPG savings, which debunked government claims, was "judgmental", and instead cited World Bank and UNDP reports in support of the project. 
However, RAC says, "The World Bank’s figures have been challenged", quoting the World Development Report 2016 (p 195) as stating, "This [LPG] is just one of many subsidy programmes in India that are being converted to direct transfers using digital ID, potentially saving over US$11 billion per year in government expenditures through reduced leakage and efficiency gains." 
"In fact", says RAC, the source of this US$ 11 billion estimates states that "the value of these transfers (NREGA, pensions etc.) is estimated to be Rs 70,000 crore ($11.3 billion) per annum." 
According to RAC, Prasad "insisted that the database was secure and safe, but was unable to answer questions on access to the database by third parties, on national security, and on the gross and inhuman exclusion caused in social sector." 

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.