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Boycott UID/Aadhaar Number

By Gopal Krishna

27 September, 2011

This is to appeal to you and to draw your most urgent attention towards the world's biggest database project unfolding through Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar Number in India without legislative approval since January 2009. It is about a 12-digit identification number which is linked to the National Population Register (NPR), Census and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) under Home Ministry among other initiatives.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia and P. Chidambaram have recommended the cut in the budget of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) because of “unnecessary spending” by it. UIDAI operates under the same Planning Commission that has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in the PUCL vs Union of India & Others wherein it has said that any citizen who spends more than Rs 965 per month in urban India (around Rs.32 per day) and Rs 781 in rural India (around Rs.26 per day) “at June 2011 price level” would be considered not to be poor. It is the same agency that claims that UID scheme is for providing social services to the poor.

The UIDA had asked for Rs 3,500 cr for 2012-13, but the Planning Commission has recommended a figure of Rs 1,400 cr. UIDA was given Rs 3,000 cr for fiscal 2011-2012. The proposal has been forwarded to the Ministry of Finance for final approval.

The Ministry of Home Affairs wants to curb UID/Aadhaar Number’s scope to promote its own National Population Register (NPR), which is tasked to collect information about Indian citizens in a similar manner. At present both UIDAI under Nandan Manohar Nilekani and NPR under C Chandramouli, the Census Commissioner are collecting demographic details along with biometric data. In a classic case of pretending ignorance the Ministry of Home Affairs has questioned the legality of UIDAI. "Until the NIAI Bill 2010, is passed by parliament the UIDA does not become an authority, and should not be allowed to function so independently". The fact is Union Home Minister is a member of the Cabinet Committee on UID Authority and related matters and he was also the member of the Empowered Group of Ministers that decided both the initiative of NPR and UID. Revealing the sad state of affairs even without the passage of any legislation from the Parliament, UIDA has issued 1 crore UID/Aadhaar Numbers and plans to issue 60 crore UID/Aadhaar Number by 2014.

This project has been implemented in Pakistan under its Home Ministry. In India, NATGRID Chief Executive Officer, Capt Raghu Raman has proposed intervention of commercial czars and creation of private territorial armies in a a document titled "A Nation of Numb People".

It may be noted that ASSOCHAM, representing 3 lakh companies and KPMG, a Swiss consultancy have underlined the ramifications of UID number in their report titled "Homeland Security in India".. Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Annual Report, 2010 claims NATGRID will be started in 2011 after "approval from the competent authority (Union cabinet)". When Hard News, a news magazine asked Nilekani about the relationship of UID/Aadhaar Number, his response was "No comments".

It may be noted that we already have at least 15 identity proofs including Voter I card. What creates a compelling logic for a 16th identity proof?

Providing bio-metric data like finger prints of ten fingers, iris scan etc for the identification number to public and private institutions is akin to wearing a radio collar. This is an act of subjecting oneself to constant surveillance which in itself is a dehumanizing act. How can students submit themselves to such indignity unthinkingly.

It is quite alarming that the enrollment for it has started where gullible citizens and even chief ministers are queuing up for it not knowing its dangerous implications. Similar identification schemes have been rejected by in China, UK, Phillipines, Australia and USA. Pakistan has been awarded for the successful implementation of identification project. According to World Bank, it is unfolding in 14 developing countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Uganda.

The National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill, 2010 for UID/Aadhaar Number is pending with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. We have given testimony to it. Its classic case of putting the cart before the horse wherein the project precedes the legislation. The Bill does not define bio-metric data implying that it could include DNA profiling and voice identification. Section 57 of the Bill reveals that the Indian National Congress led UPA government holds Parliament in contempt. It is also linked to several other proposed legislations and initiatives.

Bio-metric identification based UID/Aadhaar Number for residents of India is essentially a surveillance project which will last for centuries to come. It is an assault on the human rights of present and future citizens of India. It is being bulldozed down our throats at behest of US bio-metric technology companies which manifestly work with intelligence agencies. This will neutralize political resistance in India to a huge extent. It will ensure profiling of minorities of all ilk for good.

The entire data base of UID/Aadhaar Number will be stored in a Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) which will be handed over to US based security, intelligence and bio-metric technology companies like Accenture Services Pvt Ltd and L1 Identities Solution Pvt Ltd as per a contract awarded to them on July 30, 2010. It is germane to recollect that Wikileaks' latest disclosure reveals that former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak had transferred the identity database of Egyptians to US Federal Bureau of Investigation. Is it not relevant to this so called e-governance initiative of UPA Government?.

I also wish to draw your considered attention towards the manifesto titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence” brought out by Norwegian gunman and neo-Crusader, Anders Behring Breivik who carried out the heinous attacks on his fellow citizens. This 1500 page manifesto refers to the word “identity” over 100 times, “unique” over 40 times and “identification” over 10 times. There is reference to “state-issued identity cards”, “converts’ identity cards”, “identification card”, “fingerprints”, “DNA” etc. The words in this manifesto give a sense of deja vu.

In a significant development following rigorous deliberations, an Indian development support organization founded in 1960, Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) has disassociated itself from UID Number project which was being undertaken under Mission Convergence in Delhi. Withdrawal of IGSSS that works in 21 states of the country across four core areas India: Sustainable Livelihood, Youth Development, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Urban Poverty merits the attention of all the states and civil society organisations especially those who are unwittingly involved in the UID Number enrollment process.

In its withdrawal letter IGSSS said, “we will not be able to continue to do UID enrolment, as we discussed in the meeting of 10th May 2011.” It added, it is taking step because `it’s hosted under the rubric of UNDP’s “Innovation Support for Social Protection: Institutionalizing Conditional Cash Transfers“ [Award ID: 00049804, Project: 00061073; Confer: Output 1, Target 1.2 (a) & Output 3 (a), (b)]. In fact we had no clue of this until recently when we searched the web and got this information.’

A Statement of Concern calling for halting of UID Number project was issued in September 2010 by 17 eminent citizens led by Justice V R Krishna Iyer, Prof. Romila Thapar, Late K.G.Kannabiran, Prof. Upendra Baxi, Bezwada Wilson, Late S.R.Sankaran, Prof. Trilochan Sastry, Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar, Justice A.P.Shah among others at a Press Conference in New Delhi but corporate media chose to ignore it.

Let me also request you to forward this message to concerned legislators, lawyers, students, teachers and citizens for their perusal and consideration of this grave issue.

I can share more reference documents to enable the fellow citizens to adopt a resolution or issue a appeal calling for UID/Aadhaar Number boycott within our own states and spheres.

Gopal Krishna
Member, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL)
ToxicsWatch Alliance
New Delhi
Web: toxicswatch.blogspot.com




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