Monday, February 20, 2017

Why We Say No To aadhar

No one could have said it better about demonetization than the Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen; he said: “Telling the public suddenly that the promissory notes you have, do not promise anything with certainty, is a more complex manifestation of authoritarianism, allegedly justified — or so the government claims — because some of these notes, held by some crooked people, involve black money. At one stroke, the move declares all Indians — indeed all holders of Indian currency — as possibly crooks, unless they can establish they are not.

There runs a parallel between this attitude and the attitude shown by the government which has joined hands with the corporate world to declare that a biometric measure - usually used to profile crooks, criminals and terrorists elsewhere - may be used and often forced to profile and account every single citizen of an entire nation. 

Despite the Highest Court in the country - the Supreme Court - ruling that the infamous aadhar card cannot be made mandatory or demanded in offer to services that cannot be restricted, reserved or reprimanded otherwise, Nandan Nilekani seems to be using all his tactics to push, pressurize and use all his manipulative tactics - including one stunt where free sim cards were offered if one presented the aadhar card - to make citizens bend, stretch and break into having the aadhar card - almost forcing his idea up the throat of every Indian. Though the democratic rights of every Indian - further reinstated by the judiciary and promoted by the media - attempts to protect citizens from this exploitation, government machineries - including educational institutions, employment bureaus and even services offered by public as well as private agencies, have been convinced to demand the aadhar through various means by giving people no other option. This makes me wonder how the country was running so far without this card(?!) Is it not one's right to decide whether to own or NOT TO OWN something? Is Nandan Nilekani and his associates above the law in this country at the moment?

The Ten Reasons Why Not To Own the aadhar:

  1. Under the Citizenship Rules of 2003 it is the Registrar General of India who has to maintain a National Register of Indian Citizens and issue National ID cards. (And not Infosys, Nilekani or his unwelcomed allied associates)
  2. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Aadhaar card has rejected the Aadhaar exercise. There is no legal sanction or budgetary sanction
  3. Aadhaar does not guarantee anything. It merely becomes yet another obstacle in obtaining services from the government. (Now a new excuse and comfortable justification for red-tapism in the government machinery)
  4. Enrolment agencies, sub-registrars, registrars and UIDAI have no legal liability for any theft, fraud, crime, and compromise of your security or privacy that may be perpetuated through Aadhaar
  5. The use of Aadhaar by various agencies will now expose all your IDs, information, properties, entitlements etc. to misuse in one go thus exposing you to unprecedented risk
  6. Money transfers from Aadhaar accounts will not be audited if there is less than Rs10 lakh transferred in a year. This means subsidy, bribes and black money may go to shell accounts that may never be traced! 
  7. (Risk further multiplies when you get to know that...) Your money can be moved from Aadhaar-to-Aadhaar electronically without your knowledge
  8. You have neither control on who uses your Aadhaar nor any way to know or verify its use by anyone
  9. Your entire data and biometric is handled by non-Indian companies :)
  10. "In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the  fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar Card voluntarily, it may be checked whether that person is entitled for it under the law and it should not be given to any illegal immigrant." - Supreme Court Order in WP 494 of 2012 on September 23rd 2013

Today I get to read that a majority of Indians own the aadhar - at times, numbers that show more aadhar holders than the population of the state it represents - these statistical anomalies that eventually reveal more than it tries to hide among these dubious claims. Even if considered true, a majority having successfully fallen into the trap in this bargain, does not give anyone the right to ask those who haven't, "Why not you too?" Further, this also definitely does not mean that the thousands of Lawyers, Social Workers, Professors, even previous Government Staff and other (very few) people who still maintain their sense to think and have decided not to have this silly card are in anyway less and careless fools.
Like the illustrious Annadhurai, the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, once said in defiance to accept Hindi as the national language when pushed by the majority of the topied North-Indian babus in the parliament, "Just because it is the majority does not mean that it is right. If one were to go just by majority, then the crow instead of the peacock must have been India's National Bird... isn't it?" There is still space in this majorly confused world that a minority can still be sane though profane.
And after reading all this, you (if you still) have the nerve to think that you are smarter than me by owning an aadhar(?!) Well my friend, the fact of the matter is that now the card own you more than your assumption that you own it...

Here are some more interesting media pages that reaffirm why the aadhar is never as mandatory as we are made to believe if you would like to explore:
Aadhar card not mandatory, rules Supreme Court, New Delhi, August 11, 2015 | UPDATED 16:26 IST
The court also ruled that the information obtained through UID can not be shared for any other purpose except for criminal investigation and that too with the court's approval.
In a major judgment, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Aadhar card can be used for availing government schemes, but it is not necessary. The court has also asked the government to give widespread publicity through various media that Aadhar is not mandatory.
In its ruling, the court said Aadhar can be used for Public Distribution Schemes (PDS) foodgrains, kerosene and LPG, but it was not mandatory to avail the benefits of such schemes. The court also ruled that the information obtained through Unique Identification D can not be shared for any other purpose except for criminal investigation and that too with the court's approval.

Supreme Court demolishes Aadhaar card: Judges rule card NOT mandatory for government subsidies 
in Dail Mail by Harish V Nair
Former Infosys honcho Nandan Nilekani may be hoping for a great political start, but the future of his pet project, Aadhaar, which cost Rs 3,494 crore till September last year, looks quite bleak
Former Infosys honcho Nandan Nilekani may be hoping for a great political start, but the future of his pet project, Aadhaar, which cost Rs 3,494 crore till September last year, looks quite bleak
This is one card game the government looks set to lose.
The highest court in the land on Monday pulled out the foundations from under the United Progressive Alliance government's flagship Aadhaar scheme, directing the Centre to immediately withdraw instructions that make the cards mandatory for availing government schemes or subsidies. 
No less significant was the fact that the court directed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) not to share biometric or other personal information with anyone without the permission of the cardholder. 

Do You Need Aadhaar Card? Govt Says Yes, Supreme Court Says No
Business Insider by SANGHAMITRA MANDAL

How many IDs must one have before the Indian authorities are appeased? My apologies to Bob Dylan, but the Supreme Court's ruling on Aadhaar Card once again highlights how we tend to lose our vision and put in efforts where it is not needed. 
Only yesterday, the apex court ruled that the Aadhaar Card is not mandatory to get government benefits and services. The interim order was passed after a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court filed public interest litigation (PIL) as some of the state governments like Maharashtra are mandating the Aadhaar Card as a compulsory requirement without the Parliamentary sanction. 
The National Identity Authority of India Bill was introduced in 2010 but it was rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee a year later. Till date, our understanding has been that Aadhaar is voluntary in nature and has a different purpose altogether. So the sudden attempt at the Orwellian-style imposition is a bit scary. After all, many of us already have Voter ID cards, PAN cards, passports and driving licences. So why do we need yet another compulsory validation? Aadhaar should be the prerogative of the under-served India living on the edge while the rest of the country can adopt it at its own pace. The macro vision should not be lost either - we need a nationwide social security network and unique identity numbers must be generated to leverage its benefits. 
Launched by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the chief purpose of the Aadhaar scheme is to ensure a broad economic inclusion, not enjoyed by millions. Considering the vast Indian population outside the immediate administrative radar and living below the poverty line, it makes sense to have an all-purpose identity proof - a pass key to the direct benefits transfer (DBT) scheme. According to the central government, Aadhaar has been launched to "promote inclusion and benefits of the marginalised sections of the society that has no formal identity proof" and Aadhaar-enabled service delivery is linked to various government schemes such as scholarship, pension, janani suraksha yojana , payment of social security benefits, distribution of LPG subsidy and more. But we have not progressed very far as things can only move slowly in a vast and thickly populated country like India. Once the permanent enrolment centres come up all over the country, the 'inclusion' will happen fast. 
But there is another hitch. The Supreme Court is of the opinion that the use of Aadhaar should not be made mandatory as illegal immigrants may leverage it to legitimise their status. Here is one observation, though. Aadhaar is just an identity proof, not a citizenship proof like a Voter ID card. So when the Aadhaar mapping is completed, a second and more stringent level of scrutiny should weed out that problem. 
However, one must remember that the consent of an individual is indispensable for Aadhaar. Unlike a Voter ID or a PAN card, one is under no legal obligation to get an Aadhaar Card. Therefore, the sudden and forceful implementation may actually violate one's Fundamental Rights. Also, a lot of people don't want to opt for it as they are not too sure if their biometric data (required for Aadhaar Card) will be secure with third party service providers. So the best way ahead will be priority-based adoption and gradual inclusion of the entire country. But how long it will take to reach that goal is anybody's guess.

Adhaar Card Not Mandatory, Supreme Court Rules
NDTV by Divyanshu Dutta Roy 
The Supreme Court said the government will now have to publicise widely that the Aadhaar card was not mandatory.
NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court today said that the Aadhaar unique identity system will not be compulsory for Indian citizens to benefit from government services.
Hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the Aadhaar as a compulsory system to receive government subsidies and services, a constitution bench of the top court ruled against the government.
The government had contended that the biometric-based system of unique identification was an essential tool to ensure transparency in its services.
Rejecting the government's plea, the Supreme Court said it will now have to publicise widely that the Aadhaar card was not mandatory.
It also ruled that no authority shall seek Aadhaar cards from citizens to accord any services. However, on the discretion of the card-owner, it can be used for availing the subsidies in the public distribution system, gas cylinders and purchasing kerosene.
The biometric data collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India cannot be used for any other purpose except in criminal investigations with the permission of the court, the judges said.
Amid concerns of private contractors hired for collecting biometric data, the court said the data will have to be safely retained only by the government.
The use of the Aadhaar as a mandatory system by several states and the Centre had been challenged in the court by retired High Court Judge K Puttasaamy the Centre for Public Interest Litigation.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Possessive Parents And Their (Slave) Boys

'I don'no... what if she can't get along with my family,' 'what if she and my mom have a fight,' 'I dun'no... what if she can't adjust with my folks; and I have to make a decision between the two(?!) What will I do?' '... that's why my mom insists on searching for a girl from the same religion and caste for me, you see.' 
... These are doubts that I get to hear from 30 (plus) year old grown-up, soon-to-be married, eligible bachelors who are at the (arranged) marriage prowl these days. I was puzzled at first to hear and see so much of reservations and considerations that at times I wondered if these were just excuses to delay their marriage - probably because they were in a relationship that they couldn't reveal then. 
Seems like I was wrong until lately I discovered that these fellows who reserve their choices in their never-ending tireless quest for finding that perfect woman, found issues not in these poor unknown women they met but incidentally knew the unwelcome and hostile conditions that prevailed in their own homes way too well. These were fellows who were not confident of their own families and in that forage, attempt to find fault with other's, their families and ultimately end up questioning the other's upbringing - at a time when they should be questioning their own. Cognitive dissonance at its best.

I pity these midnight's children seeking brides or at least who seem to be enjoying the drama of bride-showcasing that seems to happen once in a while - when clueless parents parade their daughters before these boys and their parents only to soon hear that those paraded grapes are sour. These are hair-receding, pot-belly bulging, confused Indian boys stuck with their parents often out on this social exercise hunting for girls - who get to see water, water everywhere yet know that they will get not a drop to drink. 

Then there is the advanced level such families reach when they do find a girl 'fitting' for their son... Often after a certain age, every family has a victim-child - a child who turns out to be the driver, watchman, handyman, bills-paying delivery boy and who at times is also the wage-earner too that no parent can afford to give up so easily - definitely not to a woman or that child he manages to have who are seen as a hurdle to direct parental access.This is usually that same son of their's that decides to stay home dutifully 'to take care of the parents' with mounds of parental sentiments and displaced love misdirected and showered on him as a compensation for the offered services and rendered duties.
Ask the parent's and they will defend their child and his claim to (self) righteousness with their utmost might and claim that everything that could possibly be wrong are the wrongs of their bitchy daughter-in-law; who else could possibly destroy their otherwise abnormally 'normal' home?!
Ask the stray few who might defend these parents and they will quote this child and his reckless betrayal of his own family (his wife and child/ren) to nest his parents as a sacrifice beyond human imagination that needs to be worshiped and will add on that the Earth is in dearth of such kinds.
Trying to make sense to these people, is more like singing poetry to a scarecrow all day long when you are short of an audience to sway. 

Perhaps they do not realize that it reveals more than it covers how fragile and pathetic those parents who want to sacrifice a child as a means to fulfill their own needs and meet their own ends are... even if it means breaking the home of their own child to have their way. 

May such parents get well soon or rest in peace at ease... 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Antiques And Its Familial Route

The antique market has surely picked up these days. What once was considered old, today seems to fetch gold. Recently, I was at a shop that sells antiques in Nagercoil - everything this guy sells, he buys for the price of scrap ('aakar' in Tamil) and sells them for almost their weight in gold - a cheapo in buying and a shark when it comes to selling. With a refined hobby that has been reduced and commercialized, today we get to see the market and the fellows who control it, unable to distinguish between class and crap as both get mixed into a heap.  

Recently, there was the impulsiveness in me to complete (or so I temporarily feel) a vintage watch collection with that Henry Sandoz I finally found in one of those antique corridors. Now, along with the Favre Leuba, Pagol, West End, HMTs and a few pocket watches sits the latest Henry - to be wound time to time - that springs to run all well and fine even now... some way past a hundred years. 

This fascination went out of control recently when I started eyeing the pendulum clocks too. Soon I was to understand the time consumed to preserve these pieces of art that have withstood the test of time and had to give up on not wanting to accumulate beyond my capacity to care. Trust me, reviving an antique without letting it lose its essentials or character while at the same time preserving it, is always an art that needs constant learning.  

Then I ask myself, why does one treasure what another decides to give up or throw away(?!) Would it be the delight in the ruins? Would it be the pleasure derived from seeing beauty of imperfection in art? Would it be the unsaid joy in holding something from the pages of history? Would it be the energy that passes while connecting to something that has witnessed a hundred stories and a thousand dramas in its life time and still? 
Somehow I do not have one objective reason to justify this craze and as a matter of fact, I don't know and I don't have to... hahaha.

At times, I wonder about the journey these articles must have made before making their way to the dump, the antique dealer's shelf or to a collector's home. Some of my friends who have a wonderful collection of antiques have pieces that are mostly passed on - from generation to generation within their family - or handed over to them from people who are tired of having them for long and want to replace an old, place-grabber with a more functional, compact modern equipment. 

Keeping antiques is much like holding the traditions, values, morale, ethos, culture and relationships within a family; anyone trying to keep one, will know the struggle that requires plenty of patience and lot of winding and polishing that is required just to keep it working - the reason perhaps why many give up so easily or opt for exchanging it for one that suits their life style. Very often we do not understand nor comprehend the value of the one that is often too close. 
Stealing words from Kavignar Kannadhasan, 'though the closest, the eyes never get to see the eyelids.'