In search of Aadhaar

What does it mean to people already caught in a mess

Dr. Abdul Majid Siraj
Srinagar, Publish Date: Oct 19 2017 9:38PM | Updated Date: Oct 19 2017 9:38PM
In search of Aadhaar

Aadhaar is an imposition for a society like Kashmir already inundated with excessive authoritarianism.  People here have reached the level of subjugation that entitles them to salvage a lost identity and for a dignified existence and resist fascism in all its manifestations.  The mere fact that obtaining a card involves private time, back and forth visits and a humiliating task of standing in queues is  an onerous undertaking for elderly and small children standing in rows not attending classes but for having their personal details recorded without their consent.     This procedure will never be permitted in any civilized society of the world.   

 

The Aadhaar is an abbreviation for Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services.   This   Act was passed in 2016 as a money bill of the parliament.     The aim was to provide legal backing to this unique (emphasis) identification number project and its provisions came into force from 12 July 2016.   Like a mirror you can see the quantum  of personal information locked in this system manifestly overbearing and exhaustive to be used for delivery of benefits.  I have lived in Social Welfare States where no one will sleep without food or shelter or health cover and benefits are automatically transferred to all citizens who fall into those categories.   No one carries a peremptory card.   Beneficiaries offer information.

In Aadhaar legislation information is sought from an individual that crosses all limits.   Clause 2 (g) obliges biometric information, a photograph taken by an official, finger prints and iris scan of eyes.   Any other such biological attributes of an individual are also recorded. The Clause 2 (k) defines demographic information such as name, date of birth, address and other relevant information of an individual.  Apart from entitlement, income and medical history for a good measure information excludes race, religion, caste, tribe, ethnicity, language.  The Clause 2 (v) defines "resident" as an individual who has resided in India for a period or periods amounting in all to 182 days or more in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application for enrolment.  Where does Aadhar stand against J&K State Subject certificate ?

The Clause 7 states that the central or state government may require a person to possess an Aadhaar number if he/she is receiving subsidy.   What if the citizen refuses to offer the information for the card, does he or she lose the subsidy?  And let them starve?   The most poignant of this entire scenario is old age pensions. Invalid old people are carted into the make shift centers to have photographs taken.    How secure is this crucial private information?   The Clause 8 (4) states that UIDAI may share identity information, but it cannot share the biometric information.   What kind of perfidy will that be classed in?  Aadhaar is not even an identity card.  The Clause 9 states that Aadhaar is not a proof of citizenship or domicile.   A big favor done to democracy is the Clause 28 (1) that states that the government or its UIDAI department must ensure (emphasis mine) the security of identity information and authentication records.     How ridiculous a preposition can this be?  Who is the custodian of information and how secure is your life turned inside out?   The Clause 33 (1) states that a District Judge or higher court may force the UIDAI to reveal a person's identity and information contained in   Aadhaar number, photograph and demographic information, and authentication records.   Clause 33 (2)  gives an official  of the rank of  a mere joint secretary to  access a person's identity information including core biometric information.    

People of Kashmir are the worst sufferers .   Aadhaar is not only sought from those who get some subsidized rice to eat but also every one citizen of the state, and it is not voluntary.   Pressure is applied through banks, and internet providers sending SMS warning that telephone not linked to Aadhaar will be disconnected.    Everyone knows there are special circumstances in which people of Kashmir are wrapped in.  There are populations who are in bereavement and others on the run for their lives.  While as the intentions of Indian government are to   ensure increased trust between public and private agencies and residents, there is obvious antithetical response from Kashmir.   People do not have free mobility in normal circumstances in Kashmir, now they will need Aadhaar every time they are stopped.

 

Identification is a sore point in Kashmir because anyone not desirable will be misconstrued and punished before a formal trial is envisaged.    They may be enrolled into the database of some kind with multifarious agencies that work here.   Aadhaar will facilitate problem of performing repeated Know Your Customer (KYC) checks on the basis of providing services and in Kashmir inadvertently political repercussions.  The centralized technology infrastructure of the UIDAI will enable 'anytime, anywhere, anyhow' authentication that in Kashmir is construed as infringement of their privacy and right to a normal living.   Subsidized rice is what was offered during the time of the autocrat Maharaja.   Free education and health was available then and poor elders’ still take help from their own children.  There was no Aadhaar.   Banking for a large proportion of local population may not be feasible for its interest base and those who use banking they provide banks the prosperity more than the other way round.    Non-interest base banking is denied. 

Laws that have entered Kashmir from India have been enacted with great speed and no local government has ever debated the laws or seen to have scrutinized them.  That course of action was a part of the local constitution and an essential part of duty of the local parliament.  The subordinate local institutions work direct from the center with unfiltered directives that make one wonder why local legislatures be working in the first place.