The way the Modi government has been trying to push the use of the Aadhaar number, or UID, into all facets of life show a harassment that is discomforting. Aadhaar is giving more trouble than expected. My grandmother’s Aadhaar got deactivated a year ago. Being an old lady, she visited Aadhaar update centers, waited in queues, and submitted data, paid the charges and got acknowledgements (URNs) multiple times for the past year. She is an old lady in her 80s, living her last inning but without Aadhaar she is not even entitled for death certificate if she departs from earth. Currently, we have no clue how to proceed as the Aadhaar centers are saying their machines are not working. While most of the Aadhaar card centers are not working, some of the centers have technical problems. Above all, the government has denied you the peace in life if you do not have this number.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is yet to take a decision on the validity of Aadhaar and whether the State can compulsorily link it to various programs and all financial transactions. The Supreme Court is set to hear petitions related to Aadhaar including those for scrapping the Aadhaar Act, stopping biometric profiling, bank and mobile databases seeding, in the first week of November 2017. A centralised and inter-linked biometric database like Aadhaar will lead to profiling and self-censorship, endangering freedom.
Personal data gathered under the Aadhaar program is prone to misuse and surveillance. Aadhaar project has created a vulnerability to identity fraud, even identity theft. Easy harvesting of biometrics traits and publicly available, Aadhaar numbers increase the risk of impersonation, especially online and banking fraud. Centralised databases can be hacked. Biometrics can be cloned, copied and reused. Thus, BIOMETRICS CAN BE FAKED. High-resolution cameras can capture your fingerprints and iris information from a distance. Every eye hospital will have iris images of its patients. So another person can clone your fingerprints and iris images without your knowledge, and the same can be used for authentication. If the Aadhaar scheme is not stopped by the Supreme Court, the biometric features of Indians will soon be cloned, misused, and even traded.
The developed countries have already denied such cards. US Social Security Number (SSN) card has no biometric details, no photograph, no physical description and no birth date. All it does is confirm that a particular number has been issued to a particular name. Instead, a driving license or state ID card is used as identification for adults. The US government does not collect the biometric details of its own citizens for the purpose of issuing Social Security Number. The US collects the fingerprints of only those citizens who are involved in any criminal activity (it has nothing to do with SSN), and the citizens of other countries who come to the US. Indian government needs to understand the importance of public security.
In the recent past, Maharashtra government’s attempt of online registration for loan waiver implementation has sent the authorities into a tizzy as names of over 100 farmers have been found linked to a single Aadhaar number. The state government had earlier stressed on online registration by farmers with their Aadhaar, which is a unique identification.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had to call an urgent meeting with bankers to address issues like this that crop up in the way of speedy implementation of the scheme. Officials of some banks have also admitted that the data they received from the online registration portal, Aaple Sarkar, varies the data in their records. The names of some farmers are missing and some do not match with the land size or type of loan. In many cases the principal amount and interest are not matching. It leads to suspicion. Unless the state officials have verified the account and its loan amount, we cannot consider that account for loan waiver. The state government had last week released a sum of Rs 4,000 crore under the first phase of the over Rs 34,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme, but implementation has become tedious.
Looks like our life and citizenship is stuck with Aadhaar and Aadhaar Officers.
UK scrapped it seven years ago. Australia could never implement the “Australia card”. USA is yet to implement the Real ID Act of 2005; this after 12 years. We are borrowing their technology. Only Pakistan and India were implementing it until recently. Bangladesh and Nepal may join too. There are many more serious reasons to scrap this unwise project, a colossal waste of public money and a huge hoax. Are you aware that UIDAI knows that demographic data is unreliable? Do you know that UIDAI tried to hide the name, address and country of origin of the foreign companies involved in the project and that they are closely linked to US FBI and CIA? Do you know that the former chairman of UIDAI was deceiving people when he said that UID is similar to US SSN? “Aadhaar” is the name of a private of the former chairman of UIDAI. Everyone who speaks against such stupidity are not “few interested doubters”. Whatever I am saying is backed by incontrovertible documentary evidence.
If the courts don’t intervene and stop this inanity, it will create unprecedented chaos in the banking system. People won’t be able to pay their taxes or withdraw their money from banks or issue cheques. The disruption will be far more intense than that caused by demonetisation, and its economic effects far more sinister. The new rules issued by the finance ministry require existing bank account holders to submit their Aadhaar details to banks by December 31, 2017, failing which the accounts will “cease to be operational”. It was a coup by the backdoor, and the stealthiest of the process was confirmed as the rules were gazetted a full fortnight before the news of it leaked out and a week before the Supreme Court order on linking PAN numbers to Aadhaar.
The reason given by the government on why it is necessary to insist on the Aadhaar number in addition to the PAN card was the alleged vast duplication of PAN cards which made it easy for people to avoid paying tax. But going by the government’s own figures, the number of fake cards is just 0.4 per cent of the total number. While this may not be insubstantial, given that a few crore PAN cards have been issued, it does compare to the discrepancies within UID itself.
Given the much vulnerability in society that an experiment like Aadhaar reveals, it is surprising that so many people with a taste for power should stand so solidly behind it. It can’t be a matter of administrative efficiency or simply of ensuring that the poor get a better deal. Coercion has been used throughout in the Aadhaar project.
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