Aadhaar card also known as Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDIA) is an initiative that came into existence during Congress led UPA government and later was nurtured by the BJP led NDA. I believe that it has become the worst existing tool, which poses a threat to all who reside in this country in terms of privacy and security. Why do I say this? There are many reasons to oppose this 12 digit number scheme.
The prime reason is a crippling fear that the Aadhaar card violates the right to privacy and takes our personal information for various purposes. Though, as per the Supreme Court’s judgment, privacy is a fundamental right, but allegedly, information is being used by private corporate companies to build their own databases and have access to one’s most intimate details.
Recently, an investigation by The Tribune proved that for a charge of ₹500, the data of a billion people is accessible. The UIDAI chairman, in an interview, admitted that the Aadhaar can be used to create a 360 degree profile of an individual. Nearly everyone will have an Aadhaar number seeded in numerous databases which is accessible by the government. In this manner, permanent surveillance of all residents becomes a possibility. The government can also share user data in the interest of ‘national security’, a term which remains dangerously undefined.
Instances of lakhs of rupees being siphoned off are day to day news. Even UIDAI’s iris-scan based security was bypassed in state of Uttar Pradesh by gang of hackers. According to Medianama, a media house, the group had used biometric devices to get the fingerprint of authorized operators. They printed this scanned fingerprint on butter paper, and used UV rays on a photo polymer resin – first at 10 degrees temperature, then at 40 degrees – to create an artificial fingerprint similar to the original.
They used this log into the Aadhaar website. The note also mentions that although the UIDAI also mandates iris scan for login, the group bypassed iris (retina) based authentication by using a tampered client application. Apparently, they were selling this application to others for ₹5,000. A single login was able to work on multiple machines, and create fake Aadhaar cards. The note also mentions that Registrars, Enrollment Agencies Supervisors, verifiers, and operators haven’t implemented new security policies instituted by the UIDAI.
The Hindu Utsav Samiti in Madhya Pradesh urged the administration to use Aadhaar cards to identify non-Hindu participants, especially Muslims, and restrict them from entering garbas. Aadhaar and citizenship should not be a subject of confusion. As we all know Aadhaar is for residents whether they are citizens or not.
The Aadhaar Act, 2016 states, “Every resident shall be entitled to obtain an aadhaar number by submitting his demographic information and biometric information by undergoing the process of enrolment.” The act further defines residency 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 enrollment.”
But then the questions arise – why has the Aadhaar enrollment stalled in Assam? And why is Aadhaar enrollment in Assam being linked to the National Register of Citizens, when Aadhaar is not related to citizenship? Aadhaar deprivation could easily be used there as tool of harassment and humiliation against the migrant population branding them as illegal. Is it not possible that people of a particular identity become easy targets of hate politics, based on exclusion from social welfares schemes via Aadhaar enrollment?
A bench led by Justice V Gopala Gowda recalled an order of the top court in October 2015 whereby it clarified that “The Aadhaar card scheme is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this court one way or the other.” But a the letter sent by the Central government to chief secretaries and administrators of all states and union territories on July 14 had stated that only online application under the National Scholarship Scheme will be accepted and “it may be noted that submission of Aadhaar is mandatory.” After saying Aadhaar is voluntary, the government made it mandatory by enacting section 139AA. I think that the Modi government has acted in haste, disrespecting the orders of the nation’s apex court.
We need to understand the depth of peril in which marginalized people of this country live in, as they are deprived of their own rights. In the states of Rajasthan and Jharkhand, millions of people are deprived of food grains every month due to technical problems related to Aadhaar Based Biometric Authentication (ABBA). For more than 50,000 people, the disability pension, elderly pension and widow pension have been stopped. Even mid day meals were restricted without Aadhaar card.
But the most chilling, and collateral damage was seen in the Simdega district of Jharkhand where a young girl died just due to unavailability of food grain as family’s ration card was not linked to Aadhaar card. The above picture shows the order of the Chief Secretary which states stoppage of supply of ration of those who do not have ration card linked to Aadhaar card. The coercive decision to make Aadhaar card mandatory is an assault on the most poor and vulnerable population of our country.
Fundamental rights like “Right to Life Liberty”, “Right to Privacy”, and Directive Principles of State Policy’s “Right to Food” are under direct attack. I think that the Aadhaar card’s approach is monstrous, one sided, pro-state, pro-establishment, anti-people and anti-poor – with an aim of monitoring and surveillance. A people’s movement is needed to fight this organized violation of our rights.