• stumble
  • youtube
  • linkedin

Archives for : January2018

Denied ration for not linking #Aadhaar, Chikballapur Dalit families eat raw veggies in protest

-Prajwal Bhat

Forty Dalit families spread out mats and took out mangoes, spinach and other raw vegetables on the outskirts of Chowdadenahalli village in Chikballapur. But instead of a picnic, the families are out to protest against the Food and Supplies Department after being denied ration for the past one-and-a-half years.

The reason? Not linking ration cards to their Aadhaar.

Families including women and children turned up on the outskirts of the village and are defiant that they will not go back to their homes until the Food and Supplies Department gives them their due ration.

“We are here because 16 Dalit families in the village are not getting ration for the last one-and-a-half years. When we asked the Food and Supplies Department about this, they said that we have to link our Aadhaar cards to receive ration,” said Nagesh, one of the protestors.

While the linking of ration card to Aadhaar was made mandatory in February 2017, to avail food grains from the Public Distribution System, the Centre in October instructed states to not deny Public Distribution System benefits to those who do not have Aadhaar or have not linked their ration cards to Aadhaar.

The protesters said that they had raised the issue with Karnataka Food and Supplies Minister UT Khader. But they also added that even though he assured that Aadhaar should not be a reason to deny ration and promised to look into the issue, he is yet to do it.

They spread out mats half-a-kilometre away from Chowdadenahalli village and are eating leafy vegetables and mangoes to satisfy their hunger. “We are eating spinach leaves and other raw vegetables. We want the Food and Supplies Minister to hear our voice and resolve this issue,” said Shashiraj, an activist from Chintamani in Kolar.


The testimonies of the villagers in Chikballapur is the latest among a number of cases of ration being denied to those who have not linked their Aadhaar cards.

In October, over 20 people from various districts of Karnataka shared their stories of struggle and helplessness after they were denied ration for failing to link Aadhaar at a public hearing organised by The Right to Food campaign in Bengaluru.


Article source:

Related posts

India – Benefits Of #Aadhaar Unclear: RBI Researchers

Swagata Yadavar, 



The benefits of Aadhaar, India’s biometrics-based unique national identity system–the world’s largest–are unclear and the impact of direct benefit transfers it will be used to deliver to the poor is not studied enough, a new study published by an arm of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has concluded.


The paper, ‘Biometric and Its Impact in India’, was a part of Staff Papers series published in its October 2017 edition. It is written by S Ananth, an adjunct faculty at the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), which was established by the RBI as an autonomous institute.


Aadhaar is becoming central to India’s public policy with increasing number of programmes being linked to it. And its scope is constantly increasing. In the seven years following its introduction, 1.12 billion Indians or 88.2% of the population have enrolled for Aadhaar,IndiaSpend reported in March, 2017.


Established by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) under Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, Aadhaar is now used for direct benefit transfers as well as distribution of foodgrains and essential commodities–under the public distribution system (PDS)–by the state. It includes various payments linked through Aadhaar-enabled payment system.


The Supreme Court has extended the deadline of linking of Aadhaar with various welfare schemes up to March 31, 2018.


The paper has flagged issues related to Aadhaar such as problems of access to the last mile, issues with the quality of authentication, unclear financial benefits and security concerns and said there needs to be caution in the manner in which the government is linking more economic programmes and activities with Aadhaar.


Ever since its inception, Aadhaar has been caught in various debates, especially over the issue of the citizen’s right to privacy and threat of information leak. The latest of these controversies is an investigative story reported in The Tribune on January 3, 2018. It alleged that unrestricted access to details of over one billion Aadhaar numbers can be purchased at as little as Rs 500.


By paying Rs 300 more, the details of any Aadhaar card can be printed, the report said. “..[It] is a major security breach,” the deputy director of UIDAI regional officer Chandigarh was quoted to have said.


‘Could be a single target for cyber criminals’


The protection of the data under its control is a major challenge for the UIDAI. “Thanks to Aadhaar, for the first time in the history of India, there is now a readily available single target for cyber criminals as well as India’s external enemies,” the paper said. Any attack on UIDAI data can cripple Indian businesses and administration and would result in a huge loss to the country’s economy and the privacy of its citizens.


Also, since Aadhaar is required for a number of transactions, it is available in the database of a large number of service providers and any breach can compromise the information contained in it. The UIDAI allows private players to build an ecosystem–that is, services and applications–around Aadhaar, which raises questions about the security of the database.


In December 2017, the UIDAI barred Bharti Airtel and Airtel Payment Bank from opening new accounts. It was found that Airtel used the Aadhaar-based verification to open payment bank accounts of their customers without their informed consent. There are allegations that these accounts were linked to receive LPG subsidy. No penal action was taken by the UIDAI for the violation of the Aadhaar Bill.


The paper calls for a more robust and comprehensive law on the use and misuse of the massive amount of data being generated and collected.


Problems with last-mile reach


Financial inclusion was one of the goals of Aadhaar since its inception, but a biometric solution tends to be long on promise and short on delivery, according to Ananth.


The paper has cited the example of undivided Andhra Pradesh to prove this. This was one of the first states to embark on a massive modernisation programme for its administrative apparatus by creating various databases that mapped public schemes. It began in 2002 and by 2014, the state had mapped self help groups, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, pensions, student scholarships, disability benefits, health insurance and so on.


But the growing emphasis on the use of Aadhaar as a compulsory ‘know your customer’ (KYC) norm is emerging as an obstacle in banking access for those who had registered with the earlier system in Andhra Pradesh, the report found.


In Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, those who opened accounts between 2010 and 2013 are now having problems of access, according to bank correspondents (agents who provide banking services in underbanked areas). Banks have blocked access to those who have not submitted their Aadhaar numbers.


This lack of access has inconvenienced customers who need an account for various direct benefit transfers (DBT). In the case of accounts closed by banks due to non-linking with Aadhaar, money has returned to government agencies. The customer then has to open a new bank account in another bank and then run to various government offices to change their bank account number registered under the scheme.


“Problems with withdrawal of money at a time when it is needed the most either due to non-working channels or problems with KYC compliance has convinced people that the best place for their money is their pocket or at home under the mattress,” the paper noted.


Also there is one significant disparity between financial inclusion accounts–zero balance accounts opened for individuals who didn’t have a bank account–and ordinary bank accounts. Customers with financial inclusion accounts are not allowed access to their accounts from non-home branches, but regular accounts are.


Contradicting cost-benefit analyses


There are contradicting cost-benefit analyses about Aadhaar, the paper stated. The government, in a paper put out by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, claimsthat till date it has saved about Rs 14,672 crore using Aadhaar through DBT schemes. But a Canadian non-profit, International Institute of Sustainable Development, has claimed that the government has incurred a loss of Rs 97 crore.


Does the change in the system of subsidy delivery–from the current practice of providing tangible commodities and services to cash transfers–actually benefit the poor? There are no clear answers, said the paper. It may inconvenience public distribution system beneficiaries and “the long-term benefits of DBT on the poor (sic) are as yet largely unstudied (sic) and most of the expectations are based on theoretical assumptions”, the paper said.


Biometric authentication: The problem of quality


The Aadhaar Act allows the government to establish the citizen’s identity as a condition for the delivery of subsidies, benefits or services. In such cases, biometric authentication allows the government to reach genuine beneficiaries.


But for this, the biometric authentication system has to be flawless which is not the case in India currently. Failures in biometric authentication between January and June 2017 have fallen by half–from 7.14% to 3.56%, according to Andhra Pradesh’s UID data. However, there was also a 61% fall in the number of authentications in June as compared to January.


Aadhaar allows a beneficiary to access benefits like PDS in any location irrespective of where he is registered. But a high failure rate was detected in this provision in districts with high levels of migration.


Authentications and failures were found to be the highest when a large number of people–migrants and non-migrants–were present in the village. These flaws in the biometric system raised the question if a government can provide benefits to citizens irrespective of where his/her Aadhaar was registered.


“There is no way of cross verifying the quality of biometrics stored, especially by the person who has enrolled,” the study noted.


In a worst case scenario, a flawed biometric authentication system can lead to ‘identity denials’–wherein a person can be denied the fact that they are who they are, the paper said.


Even assuming that only 5% of Indians are denied government benefits due to issues with Aadhaar, we are still looking at 50 million citizens, said the paper. That is more than population of many European countries. “Does it mean this exclusion of a small minority is condonable in a democratic society?” the author has asked.

Related posts

SC- Playing of national anthem in cinema halls is not mandatory #Goodnews

SC modifies order

Krishnadas Rajagopal


On November 30, 2016, the court ordered all cinemas to play the anthem before screening a film “for the love of the motherland”.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday modified its November 30, 2016 interim order and made it optional for cinema halls to play the 52-second ntional anthem before every show.

A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, clarified that it is not mandatory to play the anthem before screenings in cinemas. It left the choice of whether to play the anthem or not to the discretion of individual cinema hall owners.

However, if the anthem is played, patrons in the hall are bound to show respect by standing up. The court clarified that the exception granted to disabled persons from standing up during the anthem “shall remain in force on all occasions”.

The court, this time, instead of shooting from its own shoulders, banked on a Home Ministry order of 2015, which directs that “whenever the Anthem is sung or played, the audience shall stand to attention”.

“Playing of the anthem is directive, but showing respect is mandatory,” Chief Justice Misra orally observed.

The apex court took umbrage from its judgment in the famed Bijoe Emmanuel versus State of Kerala judgment, which dealt with three children belonging to the Jehovah Witnesses sect who refused to sing the anthem in the school assembly though they stood up in respect, to drive in the point that standing up is indeed a sign of “proper respect” to the anthem.

“Proper respect is shown to the National Anthem by standing up when the National Anthem is sung,” the Bench quoted Justice O. Chinnappa Reddy’s words in the Bijoe Emmanuel verdict.

Report due in six months
The modification would be in place till the Centre takes a final decision on the recommendations of a 12-member high-profile inter-ministerial committee regarding the occasions, circumstances and events for the solemn rendering of the Anthem. The ministerial panel would examine whether any amendments are necessary to the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act of 1971 to expand or specify the meaning of “respect” to the National Anthem.

The committee, which was set up on December 5, 2017, would submit its report in six months.

The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 states: “Whoever intentionally prevents the singing of the Jana Gana Mana or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”

Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal, for the Centre, submitted the ministerial committee would conduct a comprehensive study of the issue. The government began the hearing by referring to its latest affidavit, suggesting to the court to modify its November 30 order and give cinema owners discretion till the inter-ministerial panel takes a final call.

Referring to incidents of complaints filed under the 1971 Act against Infosys founder Narayanamurthy and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for disrespecting the Anthem, Mr. Venugopal submitted “respect or disrespect to the Anthem has to be decided on a case to case basis. Your Lordships cannot think of a 1000 ways of respect to the Anthem”.

Leaving the ball in the government’s court, the Bench finally summed up: “Three things are obvious. The anthem has to be respected as it is the salutation to the motherland. The list of occasions for showing respect to the anthem. Proper decorum has to be maintained during the anthem.”

‘Interpret the 1971 Act’
Advocate Abhinav Shrivastav, for petitioner S.N. Chouksey, argued that guidelines on respect of the anthem by the inter-ministerial panel would hardly accomplish compliance from the public. He said similar executive orders were issued in 2012 and 2016, but to no avail.

Mr. Shrivastav urged the Supreme Court to intervene and interpret the 1971 Act in the light of Article 51A of the Constitution which calls for respecting the ideals of our nation like the Constitution, the National Flag and the National Anthem.

“The Act is totally widely worded. What will constitute disrespect of the National Anthem? The government’s guidelines have no teeth. The court will have to interpret respect to the anthem,” senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, for an intervenor, urged.

“The National Anthem is a tool for national integration. The Preamble uses the word ‘fraternity’ and assures integrity. The court’s order to play the Anthem in cinemas and for all to stand regardless of caste or religion subserves the cause of integrity. Therefore the November 30 order should not be recalled,” Mr. Shrivastav submitted.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan submitted that the anthem has a ceremonial significance, has a “sacred element”, which should not be trivialised by playing it four times a day in cinemas.

Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya submitted that national symbols like the anthem identifies with the term ‘secular’ in the Preamble and unifies diverse communities.

Senior advocate C.U. Singh, for Kodungalloor Film Society, submitted the petitioners were in the wrong forum and should make their arguments for change in law before the Parliament.

Advocate P.V. Dinesh said the court should consider the plight of film festival organisers and lovers who would be forced to play and stand up dozens of times in a day before every screening.

The Supreme Court disposed of the petitions, agreeing with Mr. Venugopal that the petitioners could make their representations before the inter-ministerial committee.

Related posts

India – Will Government explain foreign links to Aadhaar?

Aadhar cards

It is time for Modi Government to answer questions raised by media reports on foreign links, motives behind mandatory linking and the leaking structure of Aadhaar

Hopes are soaring among anti-Aadhaar petitioners and activists. With each passing day, fresh proof is surfacing that the UIDAI scheme is not only riddled with serious technological flaws and vulnerabilities but there are grave suspicions of foreign companies and intelligence agencies gaining access to the entire pool of private biometric data of every single Indian citizen.

With barely ten days to go before the final hearing in the Aadhaar case before the Supreme Court on January 17, new revelations regarding ease of data breach as well as hitherto unsuspected and deep corporate linkages between the Unique Identification Authority and certain Indian and foreign companies, have provided the petitioners with additional arguments while preparing their counter-affidavits.

Government lawyers, on their part, are reportedly finding it difficult to cope with the flow of detailed information that has now poured out into the public domain and are looking for ways to block their inclusion in the case at this late stage.

However, legal experts say it is highly unlikely that the five-judge Constitutional Bench will refuse to allow any new material that is pertinent to the efficacy of Aadhaar and may be helpful in arriving at a holistic assessment of the positive and negative aspects allowing the government to go-ahead with the scheme across the board.

Bureaucratic sources acknowledge that the chances of obtaining full judicial approval for making Aadhaar mandatory have considerably dimmed in the wake of developments on the last few weeks, including the journalistic expose by The Tribune newspaper and the public outcry over the action taken by UIDAI against the investigative reporter and the editors.

Senior Ministers of the Modi government are said to be bracing for the possibility of the apex court passing strictures and adding certain riders in the implementation of the scheme.

This is the best case scenario for the government at this juncture –because it would be a major blow to the government if the Constitution Bench decides to give the green signal only for welfare programmes for direct fund transfer to underprivileged sections of the population and prohibits mandatory Aadhar-linking for bank accounts, telephone connections and other personal activities and transactions of citizens at large.

What is particularly worrying for the government is that with each passing day the anti-Aadhaar campaign is gathering more momentum. The mishandling of The Tribune case has sparked off protests from journalistic bodies, civil rights organizations and political parties.

More infuriating and worrisome for those responsible for ensuring that the Prime Minister’s electronic verification project is implemented in toto, is that the names of various multi-national corporations and their specific nexus with UIDAI and contracted private-sector Indian companies have spilled out to public glare and triggered conspiracy theories.

These conspiracy theories have already given rise to speculation about the real motives behind imposing mandatory Aadhaar in all spheres of national life. With the injection of the foreign commercial angle, not only has the compulsory collection of private and personal data of every single Indian citizen, expanded beyond the issue of Right to Privacy, but has aroused fears of national sovereignty and national security being consciously put at risk. This is viewed in ruling party circles as tarnishing the image of the Prime Minister himself, since he has been the main driving force behind the entire exercise.

Grave doubts and misgivings have already been expressed in the public domain. Here is a summary of some of the startling details of alleged MNC involvement and potential national security implications put out by civil rights organisations, media publications and anti-Aadhaar activists.

The actual execution of the Aadhaar project has been contracted to several private sector companies, both Indian and foreign. They allegedly include: Hewlet Packard, Wipro, Sai Infosystems India Ltd, Tata Consultancy Service, Linkwel Telesystems Pvt. Ltd., Totem International Ltd., Telesima Communications Pvt. Ltd., Geodesic Ltd, Reliance Communications, Airtel-Vodafone and Bharati Airtel.

IBM reportedly controls around 10 per cent of the Aadhaar-linked Digital India business. Microsoft has corporate linkages with Infosys, which has been entrusted with major UIDAI projects.

The Sunday Guardian newspaper has published the name of several agencies which have access to Aadhaar data. One of them is a firm known as L1 – certain very high-profile individuals are either current or former members of the L1 board. These include George Tenet, former CIA chief, Loius Freeh, former FBI head and Admiral Loy, former acting director of US Homeland Security.

If true, such reports involve very serious implications. It is for the Modi government to clarify the situation. Since some of these details — and there are long lists of other names of individuals and corporates directly or indirectly connected with the whole Aadhar exercise and who allegedly have easy access to the data of all Indian citizens once the scheme is implemented in full – are alarming, to say the least, it is likely that the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court would seek answers during the resumed hearings of the Aadhaar case.

Related posts