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

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

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.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).