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

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Attack on Gaza: Western media 'went out of the way' to obscure, protect perpetrators

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Stressing on standardisation, efficiency, capitalists 'intensify' workers' exploitation

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension, an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. 

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.

WTO 'loses legitimacy': CSOs shut out of normal participation in MC13 at Abu Dhabi

By Deborah James  Given unprecedented repression of participants, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Abu Dhabi should not continue until historical and international standards and human rights for participation in global governance are restored.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".