Skip to main content

How much, how often, has the Gujarat Govt opposed Aadhaar scheme?

By Venkatesh Nayak*
A few ago the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi made a blistering criticism of the Aadhaar project. He was addressing an election rally in my home town, Bengaluru, where the erstwhile Chief of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Nandan Nilekani is seeking to enter Parliament on an Indian National Congress ticket. Glad to know that a political heavy weight is openly opposing Aadhaar — a Government of India initiative to provide ‘proof of identity’ to the supposedly ‘identity-less’ 1.2 billion residents of the country. But there was a need to check the reality.
After I emptied a glass of cold water in celebration (veggie version of the chilled bubbly spirit which is customary for such occasions) I decided to cross check how much, and how often, the Gujarat government under the chief ministership of Narendra Modi has opposed the roll out of Aadhaar in Gujarat. According to UIDAI website, Gujarat government officials held a meeting with the Chief Minister of Gujarat, on December 8. 2009, with senior state officials in tow (see http://uidai.gov.in/consultations/with-stackholders.html).
The minutes of this meeting are not available on the UIDAI website. So given the trenchant criticism of Aadhaar by the Chief Minister, he must have attended that meeting kicking and crying and may have only criticised the UID project asking whether Aadhaar made any sense at all like he did in Bengaluru recently.
However, this supposed ‘opposition’ does not seem to have had much effect on the administration in Gujarat, which is hell bent on implementing Aadhaar, come what may. So on March 25, 2010, the general administration department (GAD) issued a resolution constituting a state cabinet council under the chairmanship of none other than chief minister of Gujarat to oversee the implementation of Aadhaar in the State (see https://uid.gujarat.gov.in/GRs/Cabinet%20Council%20GR.pdf). Here was the prime opponent of Aadhaar chairing a committee to oversee its implementation!
The ‘mutinous’ administration did not stop at that. In June 2010 it entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UIDAI, with the principal secretary, GAD, Gujarat signing it in the presence of none other than the Chief Secretary of Gujarat agreeing to ‘cooperate’ and ‘collaborate’ with UID to effectively implement Aadhaar in the state (see http://uidai.gov.in/images/mou/MOU-Gujarat.pdf). Officers in the know tell me that the Chief Minister is very popular with them because of the freedom he gives them to provide ‘good governance’ to the people – a major component of the ‘Gujarat model of development’.
In addition to biometrics, UIDAI has been collecting demographic data of each resident of the country at the time of enrolment such as name, gender, date of birth and address under the Aadhaar project. The Gujarat GAD decided to include additional fields of information under Aadhaar such as PAN number, Voter I-card number, ration card number, BPL card number, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana number, disability-related data and LPG or PNG connection details (see https://uid.gujarat.gov.in/GRs/Deciding%20KYR%20+.pdf )
The GR issued by the state government in August 2011 makes failure to record such additional information liable for penal action. It is not clear who will be penalised – the registrars, the officials, or the people? Gujarat under its chief minister wants to go several steps ahead of UIDAI to database people.
Later in December that year the GAD issued another GR requiring inclusion of household numbers issued to residents of urban slums in the database (see https://uid.gujarat.gov.in/GRs/Unique%20Identification%20Implementation%20Programme%20KYR+.pdf).
These twin GRs were issued in the name and by order of the Governor of Gujarat, and copied to the principal secretary to the chief minister. He might have failed to bring these GRs to the notice of the chief minister, who dismissed Aadhaar as mere gimmickry in Bengaluru recently.
According to a reply tabled in Parliament, 2.2 crore people had opted for Aadhaar in Gujarat at the end of the year 2013 (see http://164.100.47.234/question/annex/230/Au2875.pdf). According to the UID portal this figure had increased by 1 crore by the end of March 2014 (see https://portal.uidai.gov.in/uidwebportal/dashboard.do?st=Gujarat).
With such accelerated enrollment, no wonder the humble chief minister of Gujarat lamented in Bengaluru that people who think they gave birth to IT in this country (whatever that means) refused to listen to a common person like him. Even his own officials do not seem to have listened to him if at all he spoke against Aadhaar before them ever and have enrolled more than 50 per cent of the residents of Gujarat.
The chief minister also dubbed Aadhaar as a bundle of lies in whose name the treasury was being looted. Many of us have also been very critical of the unprecedented financial implications of this project from the very beginning.
However, according to a reply tabled in the Lok Sabha in February this year, the Government of Gujarat had sought financial assistance of Rs 50 per Aadhaar number successfully generated in the state. UIDAI had reduced this amount to Rs 40 per number generated during Phase II of the enrolment process. Parliament was told that the Government of India had refused the state government’s request (see http://164.100.47.132/LssNew/psearch/QResult15.aspx?qref=150191).
While the Hon’ble chief minister was probably spending sleepless nights over wasting public money on the Aadhhar project, his officials were demanding more money from the Central government to implement it. If Shakespeare had written Hamlet in Gujarat he would have ended Scene 1 of this celebrated tragedy by making Marcellus say, “Something is rotten in the State of Gujarat.”
Aadhaar is not just a gimmick. It is an attempt by the governments to collect more and more data about people without telling them how and who will be using it. This is the grandest project yet of the ‘surveillance state’ that is emerging in India.
Sadly, the BJP leader is waking up to the reality of Aadhaar too late in the day when more than 60 per cent of the people have been enrolled across the country. Or is his criticism of Aadhaar itself another political gimmickry? Can we trust such a person with the reins of the Central government?
I went out to cast my vote after writing this piece. I thought voting for a Prime Minister candidate who does not practice what he preaches is not honesty. According to him every vote for his party will reach him, no? I wonder by what magic.

*RTI activist. These are personal views of the author. They must not be construed as the official view of the organisations he works with or is associated with

Comments

TRENDING

Mental health: We talk of poverty figures, but not increase in suicides since 2014

By IMPRI Team Highlighting  the issue of mental health and addressing the challenges involved, # IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Institutional Support for Mental Health and Wellbeing under the #WebPolicyTalk series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps . The discussion was chaired by Prof Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI and Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai . The distinguished panel included – Prof Anuradha Sovani, Former Professor and Head, Department of Psychology, and Former Dean, Faculty of Humanities at SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai and National Core Committee member and Ethics Committee Chairperson, Association of Adolescent and Child Care India ; Dr Soumitra Pathare, Director, Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy at Indian Law Society, Pune ; Dr Swati Rane, Founder CEO at SevaShakti Healthcare Consultancy, Mumbai and Founder V

How India, Bangladesh perceive, manage Sunderbans amidst climate change

By IMRPI Team The effects of climate change have been evident, and there have been a lot of debates around the changes to be made locally to help and save the earth. In this light, the nations met at the COP 26 conference recently. To discuss this further, the Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi , organized a panel discussion on “COP 26 and Locally Led Adaptations in India and Bangladesh Sunderbans” under the #WebPolicyTalk series- The State of the Environment – #PlanetTalks . The talk was chaired by Dr Jayanta Basu, Director, Non-profit EnGIO, Faculty at Calcutta University and an Environmental Journalist, The Telegraph , ABP . The Moderator of the event, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO and Editorial Director, IMPRI , started the discussion by stressing the talk on the living conditions of people living in the Sunderbans Delta from both the countries, i.e. India and Bangladesh. According to the report

NEP: Education must shift away from knowledge, move to teaching students

Dr Anjusha Gawande* The Education sector in the globe is changing dramatically. Many manual jobs may be captured over by machines as a consequence of multiple spectacular advances in science and technology, including the machine learning, and artificial intelligence. A professional workforce, particularly one that includes mathematics, computer science, and data science, as well as multidisciplinary competencies in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, will be in incredibly popular. As a result, education must shift away from knowledge and toward teaching students, how to be creative and transdisciplinary, and how to innovate, adapt, and process information differently in innovative and rapidly changing sectors. The education development agenda at the global level is represented in Goal 4 (SDG4) of India's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted in 2015. Ministry of Education has announced the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) on 29.07.2020. In J

Dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and sustainable growth of mediocrity

By Arup Mitra* The theory of mediocrity would suggest that the meritorious who are always small in number as a nature’s gift will be dominated by a vast number of mediocre as the latter cannot withstand the inferiority they suffer from. By subjugating the merit, they derive a pleasure of having established their superiority. Such processes are functional in all spheres in life though the field of art is the worst sufferer. An artist mind is most sensitive and those who are meritorious in this lot possess exceptionally different traits. This makes them more vulnerable and, on the other hand, it paves the path of the mediocre to cast their shadows all around. Unjust and strong criticisms are sufficient to detract many. In developing countries, the modes of subjugation are many. Individuals do not hesitate to take recourse to criminal means as the subconscious prevalent with vengeance, accesses easily the outlets for execution. The lack of civility and the power of money form a unique com

Migrant problem during Covid and the role of equality for cohesive development

By IMPRI Team  The covid-19 pandemic has deepened the pre-existing inequalities across socio-economic groups, the distressing images of migrants’ exposure remained attached in our minds but not a lot has changed in terms of data collection and policy making since then to understand the role of equality for cohesive development. Cohesive development also means that human beings should respect the boundaries of nature which they cross at their own peril and the peril of other living beings on earth. In lieu to this, The State of Development Discourses – #CohesiveDevelopment, #IMPRI Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) , #IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute , New Delhi organized #WebPolicyTalk with Prof Amiya Kumar Bagchi, on The Role of Equality for Cohesive Development. The session is inaugurated by Ms Mahima Kapoor, researcher and assistant editor at IMPRI. Ms Mahima Kapoor extended her gratitude to the speaker, moderator and the discussant. The moderator for the eve

Parallel govts: How unity of various streams of freedom movements took shape in India

By Bharat Dogra  In one of the most inspiring examples of highly courageous spontaneous actions based on the unity of people, parallel governments were formed by freedom fighters in several parts of India in the course of the Quit India Movement in 1942. Although generally four such leading efforts have been identified in Satara (Maharashtra), Talcher (Odisha), Tamluk (West Bengal) and Ballia (Uttar Pradesh), there were some other smaller efforts as well such as those in Bhagalpur (Bihar) and Gurpal (Balasore, Odisha). It is very interesting to see in most of these efforts (also very significant for understanding the freedom movement) that there was constant merging of the various streams of the freedom movement, with more militant activities openly taking place with the help of quickly mobilized militias and this being combined with various constructive programs emphasized by Mahatma Gandhi such as anti-liquor efforts and anti-untouchability movements. In addition we see actions in

West Bengal police inaction in immoral trafficking case of a Muslim woman

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, on Muslim woman victim trafficking, police inaction, and need immediate rescue: I am writing to inform you about a case of illegal trafficking and profuse police inaction regarding the same of a marginalized Muslim teenager named Anima Khatun (name changed), daughter of Mr. Osman Ali. The victim and her husband had been residents of the village Daribas, under Dinhata police station Cooch Behar district since their marriage in 2014. Six months following their marriage, Anima Khatun along with her husband, sister-in-law, sister-in-law's husband as well as her in-laws shifted to Delhi in search of work. They stayed there for 2 years after which they all came back to their native village. They stayed at their native residence for about one month and then they went back to Delhi. In Delhi, Anima was in touch with her family till the next six months, after which t

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Kr├Ątli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

Bangladesh sets shining example of communal peace, harmony in South Asia

By Dr. Abantika Kumari Bangladesh is made up of 160 million people who are multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual. The Constitution of Bangladesh guarantees all citizens the freedom to freely and peacefully practice their chosen religions. Religious minorities make up roughly 12% of Bangladesh's present population, according to conservative estimates . Hindus account for 10% of the population, Buddhists for 1%, Christians at 0.50 percent, and ethnic minorities for less than 1%. As an example of how people of different religions can live together, cooperate together, and simply be together, Bangladesh is regarded. Bangladesh is a country that values religious liberty, harmony, and tolerance. Bangladesh's population is made up of a diverse spectrum of religious groupings and ethnic groups. Such communities and groups live in harmony, putting aside their differences and learning to embrace and respect the diverse and diversified culture that has contributed to Bangladesh

Political leaders' actions are causing decontextualisation of democracy

By Harasankar Adhikari In India, does democracy become a matter of prescription, i.e., to follow the footpath left? Isn't it, in some ways, the adoption of certain prescribed procedures and mechanisms, such as timely election and populist schemes for the poor, etc.? In some cases, acts of government and governance turn democracy into a myth. It is full of political party-based agendas. This continuous hegemonic practise creates a conditional situation for the people of India. People elect their representatives who are not their representatives. They are only representatives of a particular political party that nominated them in the election. Democratic decentralisation of power is undoubtedly a unique step towards the grass roots. But a Panchayat member has no free will to act without the party’s instruction and approval. Michael Saward, a political philosopher, defines democracy as a matter of correspondence in state-society relationships. But India’s parliamentary democracy is un