Monday, September 30, 2013

Narendra Modi, opposition parties taken for a ride on illegal
biometric data collection

Now Gujarat & other States must withdraw from MoU signed with UIDAI

Illegitimate and illegal biometric identification of citizens like
prisoners should be stopped

Lawyers, students, citizens should boycott biometric identification
against bribing of voters

SEPTEMBER 28, 2013: After Statement of Concern by eminent citizens
like Justice V R Krishna Iyer , adverse report of the multi party
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, the judgment of the
Punjab & Haryana Court, the order of National Human Rights Commission
to the Union Home Secretary Affairs, the admission  of a complaint
regarding illegal, illegitimate and unconstitutional subordinate
legislation for biometric Aadhhar/UID by Parliamentary Committee on
Subordinate Legislation, in a series of statements on Twitter,
Narendra Modi, the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP and Gujarat
Chief Minister has asked the Indian National Congress led Government,
“Were all states on board on Aadhaar?” in the aftermath of the Supreme
Court ‘s order of September 23 rebuking the Government for making it
mandatory.

Modi said, “When the SC raised these points, the PM must tell nation
that did all states and departments approve Aadhar? But you just spent
huge money. You need to answer nation for that. What the Supreme Court
said today, I raised the similar point three years ago. I told him to
convene a National Security Card meeting, consult Chief Ministers, but
he did nothing. Nation wants to know from the PM how much money was
spent on Aadhar card? Who gained from it? What about the questions the
SC raised?” As an immediate follow up, Gujarat Government must
withdraw from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), it signed with
the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

In a letter dated Jun 25, 2011, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties
(CFCL) had written to Gujarat Chief Minister pointing out threats to
national security and civil leberties from the UID number. The letter
had urged him to withdraw from the attached MoU that was signed by
Shri V. N. Maira. IAS. Principal Secretary (Planning), General
Administration Department, Gujarat Government on June 9, 2010. CFCL
urges Government of Gujarat and all the State Governments, especially
the ones ruled by the non-Congress parties to withdraw from the MoUs
they have signed with UIDAI. So far they have failed to apply their
legal minds to it the way they did in the case of National Counter
Terrorism Centre (NCTC). They have failed to appreciate that UID, NPR,
NCTC and National Intelligence Grid is linked and is being linked with
Census and Voters’ database.

Unmindful of threat to federalism most States including Jharkhand,
Bihar, Odisha, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal  have signed a MoU
with UIDAI. Surprisingly, the States which were quite vocal about
threats to federal structure from Union Home Ministry‘s National
Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and National Intelligence Grid
(NATGRID) that integrates 21 sets of databases have been caught
unawares by the creation of UID’s Centralized Identities Data Register
(CIDR) disregarding the fact that Planning Commission’s CIDR and Home
Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR) is going to be
converged. State Governments have chosen to listen to consultants who
are more interested in making a quick sale of their biometric,
identification and surveillance technology products.

In 1906, another Gujarati, Mahatma Gandhi had encountered a similar
Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance proposed by the Transvaal Government
in the August 22 issue of the Government Gazette required all Indians
in the Transvaal region of South Africa, eight years and older, to
report to the Registrar of Asiatics and obtain, upon the submission of
a complete set of fingerprints, a certificate which would then have to
be produced upon demand. Fingerprints were then demanded only from
criminals, and the subjection of women to such a requirement had no
other objective but the humiliation of Indians. Gandhi understood well
that the Ordinance effectively criminalized the entire community and
must be challenged. At a meeting held in Johannesburg, 3000 Indians
took an oath not to submit to a degrading and discriminatory piece of
legislation. This gave birth to Satyagraha. Gandhi later wrote that
the ordinance illustrated hatred towards Indians which, if passed,
“would spell absolute ruin for the Indians in South Africa.”

How is CIDR of Aadhaar and NPR which also generates Aadhaar 'number
different from the ‘register of Asiatics’ opposed by Mahatma Gandhi?
If Indians forget the lesson of this resistance movement it would
“spell absolute ruin for the Indians” of the present and future
generations.

A historic eight-year-long resistance campaign against biometric
identification happened from August 1906 to January 1914 in the
British colony of Natal, and Boer Republic of Transvaal, South Africa.
In August 1906, the Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance was signed into
law in the Transvaal. It was a humiliating and discriminating law
forcing Indians in the Transvaal to register with the ‘registrar of
Asiatics,’ submit to physical examinations, provide fingerprints, and
carry a registration certificate at all times. Otherwise, Indians and
other ‘Asiatics,’ as they were called, could be fined, imprisoned, or
deported. A delegation of Indians sailed to London to meet with
British Secretary of State Lord Elgin. In 1912, Gopal Krishna Gokhale
visited South Africa and expressed his support for the struggle
against biometric idnetification. In early 1914, an agreement was
reached with the protestors and the Black Act seeking biometric
identification was abolished.

Historians rightly say that all history is contemporary history. It
was reported on October 6, 20111 that Gujarat Chief Minister wrote to
the Prime Minister questioning the need for biometric data collection
for National Population Register (NPR) by Registrar General of India &
Census Commissioner, Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Gujarat stopped
collection of biometric data for creation of the NPR. In his letter to
the Prime Minister, Modi raised objections over both the Unique
Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is creating Unique
Identification (UID)/Aadhaar Number and Registrar General of India,
which is creating the NPR, collecting biometric data. In his letter to
Manmohan Singh, Modi wrote, “there is no mention of capturing
biometrics in the Citizenship Act or Citizenship Rules 2009”. He
added, “In the absence of any provision in the Citizenship Act, 1955,
or rules for capturing biometrics, it is difficult to appreciate how
the capture of biometrics is a statutory requirement. Photography and
biometrics is only mentioned in the Manual of Instructions for filling
up the NPR household schedule and even in that there is no mention of
capturing the Iris”. After Gujarat stopped collection of biometric
data, the then Union Minister of Home Affairs, P Chidambaram sent a
letter to Modi in August 2011 pointing out that creation of the NPR
was a “statutory requirement” under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and
“once initialized, has to be necessarily completed”. The Union
Minister of Home Affairs had also requested the CM to instruct state
government officers to cooperate in creation of the NPR.
This was when the entire media, the citizens and the political class
was hoodwinked into believing that there was a rift between Nandan
Nilekani’s UIDAI under Planning Commission and Dr C Chandramouli’s NPR
under Union Minsitry of Home Affairs

But Modi chose to side with UIDAI in an apparent rebuff to
Chidambaram. Modi kicked off UID/Adhaar project in Gujarat on May 1,
2012 by giving his biometric information for his aadhaar/UID number
and enrolled under the UIDAI project. Strangely, Modi did not object
to his biometric identification under UID as he did with regard to
NPR. Modi did so despite the fact that Yashwant Sinha headed
Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance rejected the UID
project and the UID Bill in its report to the Parliament on December
13, 2011. However, it may be noted that one sentence of the PSC report
appears to endorse biometric NPR. Was it a case of Sinha trying to
side with Chidambaram and Modi trying to side with Nilekani? It
appears that Modi has been taken for ride with regard to the
UID/Aadhaar and Sinha with regard to NPR as they failed to see through
the ‘approved strategy’. Now it is clear that the staged rift that was
created between Home Ministry and Planning Commission’ UIDAI on UID
and NPR was motivated and was meant to take legislatures, citizens,
States and media for a ride. Both Modi and Sinha got misled because
Chidambram left the Home Ministry and became the Finance Minister.
Notably, the UIDAI was the proposed by the Ministry of Finance in
2009. Thus, both were outwitted by Chidambaram. Modi’s letter to the
Prime Minister objecting to the biometric data collection sought by
Chidamabram was made irrelevant. Modi’s biometric data is now the
property of UIDAI and because UIDAI and NPR data is to be collated ‘as
per approved strategy’ it is also the property of Registrar General of
India’s NPR to which he had objected.

The Terms of Reference No. 8 of Planning Commission’s notification
dated January 28, 2009 that created Unique Identification Authority of
India (UIDAI) in pursuance of the 4th meeting of the Empowered Group
of Ministers, states, “Take necessary steps to ensure collation of NPR
and UID (as per approved strategy)”.

A Prime Minister’s Office which has been promoting biometric data
collection purportedly to make delivery of social welfare programs
leak proof itself isn’t leak proof. Given a choice between leakage or
theft of citizens database of sensitive personal information and
leakage of public distribution system and delivery social welfare
services what would be be chosen and which can be plugged more easily.
Recently, database of Greece has been stolen as per Reuters and the
database of Pakistan and Egypt has been handed over to US as per the
diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks.

In UID/Aadhaar Enrolment Form, Column 9 reads: "I have no objection to
the UIDAI sharing information provided by me to the UIDAI with
agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services". In front of this
column, there is a "Yes" and "No" option. Irrespective of what option
residents of India exercise (which is being ticked automatically by
the enroler in any case as of now), the fact is this information being
collected for creating Centralized Identity Data Register (CIDR) and
NPR (column 7) will be handed over to biometric technology companies.
At a lecture on November 23, 2012, Nilekani ominously stated that if
you do not have the Aadhaar you will not get the right to rights. UID
is like a financial address for the people. The question is if Aadhaar
is only an identifier of residents of India how does it accord to
itself an inherent right to approve or disapprove rights of citizens
to have rights? Karnataka based groups have informed that the name
Aadhaar is linked to the NGO of Nilekani that worked in the matter of
Bangalore Agenda Task Force from 1999 to 2004.

All claims of benefits are highly suspect from biometric
identification as long as total cost is presented to the Parliament
and citizens. A World Bank paper of 2013 has revealed that linking
biometric identification with cash transfer influences voters’
behavior in favour of the ruling party which does so. After buying MPs
through MPLAD scheme initiated by Narshimha Rao Government to protect
his minority government, it is another attempt to bribe voters.
In the back drop of his phone being tapped by the Ministry of Home
Affairs, Arun Jaitley, the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha
wrote, “This incident throws up another legitimate fear. We are now
entering the era of the Adhaar number. The Government has recently
made the existence of the Adhaar number as a condition precedent for
undertaking several activities; from registering marriages to
execution of property documents. Will those who encroach upon the
affairs of others be able to get access to bank accounts and other
important details by breaking into the system? If this ever becomes
possible the consequences would be far messier.” It is evident that it
has become possible but the opposition party continues to implement it
in the states where it is the ruling party despite admitting gnawing
concerns. In fact all the opposition parties including from the left
and socialists are doing so either in collusion or due to their
gullibility.

When asked “whether or not you think by the year 2050 there could be a
global system … (which) would be a real influence on knocking down the
nation state, which I think needs knocking down.” Nilekani admitted at
a conference, “there is nothing technologically limiting for having
the whole population of the world on the system.” This poses a grave
threat to sovereignty of the citizens and the country. He and his
project appear quite complicit in the unconstitutional act of
surrendering country’s interest in favour of a global system led by
ungovernable and undemocratic business enterprises not by democratic
legislatures.

More than four years have passed; Nilekani has refused to reveal
whether or not he has himself enrolled for biometric unique
identification (UID)/aadhaar number. Can we expect him and his bosses,
Dr Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Pranab Mukherjee and
cabinet ministers to enroll before his terms expires next year?  This
information has been denied under the RTI.

As per the communication from Unique Identification Authority of India
(UIDAI), an attached office of Planning Commission, Government of
India dated July 2, 2010, “The decision for appointment of Chairman
was conveyed by the Cabinet Secretariat”.

The Planning Commission’s notification dated July 2, 2009 reveals that
“the competent authority has approved the appointment of Nandan
Nilekani, Co-Chairman, INFOSYS as Chairperson, Unique Identification
Authority of India, in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister.
Nilekani will hold appointment for an initial tenure of five years”.
Nilekani joined Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) not
in person but in his role as co-chairman of the board of directors of
Infosys Technologies Limited, which he co-founded in 1981 and served
as director on the company's board since its inception to July 2,
2009.  This appears manifestly incestuous. It was the Chairman,
Infosys Ltd, an artificial person who was asked to head UIDAI, and not
a natural citizen. The notification shows that a copy was marked to
Nilekani, CEO, President & MD, Infosys Technologies Ltd., Corporate
Headquarters besides the Secretary Generals of Secretariats of Lok
Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

While presenting the Union Budget 2009-10, the then Finance Minister,
Pranab Mukherjee announced the setting up of the UIDA to in “establish
an online data base with identity and biometric details of Indian
residence and provide enrolment and verification services across the
country” in paragraph no. 64 of his speech allocating 120 crores to
it. Coincidentally, immediately after this announcement, the then
Finance Minister underlined the need for “the modernization of police
force in the States” in paragraph 65 of the speech that dealt with
“National Security”. In this speech of July 6, 2009 the then Finance
Minister informed the Parliament about the arrival of Nilekani without
naming him saying, “This project is very close to my heart. I am happy
to note that this project also marks the beginning of an era where the
top private sector talent in India steps forward to take the
responsibility for implementing projects of vital national
importance.”

Notably, Yashwant Sinha headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on
Finance rejected The National Identification Authority of India Bill,
2010 meant to legalize and legitimize illegitimate and illegal UIDAI,
the sensitive biometric information collector. Despite this Gujarat,
Tripura, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and
other States continued to implement it. It is high time they desisted
from doing so the way Barack Obama and 25 States of USA opposed the
REAL ID Act, 2005 and UK, Australia, China, France and European Court
of Human Rights rejected indiscriminate collection of biometric data.

CFCL wants to know as to whether the opposition parties are too
helpless in the face of intelligence agencies to disassociate their
States from such initiatives? In UK, the opposition party did oppose
it and displaced Tony Blair government.

In the face of such assault on Parliament’s prerogative, State’s
autonomy, citizens’ rights and the emergence of a regime that is
making legislatures subservient to database and data mining companies,
the urgent intervention of the PSC, Parliament, States, political
parties and citizens cannot be postponed anymore.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL),
Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731, E-mail: gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com

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