UID/Aadhaar
Aadhaar and UPA govt's obsession for private sector benefits–Part 12

The vision statement of Aadhaar states: “use of UID to speed up certain businesses, especially in the insurance and credit sectors, may eliminate the need for private sector to set-up parallel identification systems leading to improved efficiency in delivery of their services and a reduction in identity-related frauds in the service delivery”

Supreme Court bench of Dr Justice BS Chauhan and Justice SA Bobde heard the case against 12-digit Aadhaar/ unique identification (UID) number for biometric profiling on 26 November 2013. The next date of hearing is on 10 December 2013. Raj Pal Singh, director, Planning Commission has filed the counter affidavit in the Writ Petition (Civil) No. 833 of 2013 (Aruna Roy Vs Union of India providing the backdrop of the establishment of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It is evident from the counter affidavit that it is directed towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and attempts to underline in the Court that there is bipartisan support for UID/ Aadhaar number project.

 

The counter affidavit argues that UIDAI was set up in furtherance of the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Reforming the National Security System were accepted by the BJP-led government besides the recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee and the amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 notified on 7 January 2004. GoM under the chairmanship of LK Advani also included the Defence Minister, External Affairs Minister and Finance Minister. The report was submitted to PM on 26 February 2001. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had considered the GOM report on 11 May 2001.

 

The counter affidavit based on inputs from Census Commissioner-cum-Registrar General of India, National Population Register (NPR), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) underlines that “the need for creation of a credible citizen database having a system secure form of personal identification of individuals has acquired importance due to a variety of reasons which include:

a) changing security scenario in the country, (b) realisation for better targeting of services and benefits under different schemes of government, and c) increasing identity frauds.”

 

It refers to the ‘provision for a secure “cyber-space” for creation of NPR, handling and transmission of data between the local service centers and national data centers” which was presented to the Committee of Secretaries (COS) in October 2006. The studied silence of the counter affidavit about how “secure cyber-space” has turned out to be a myth in the post Wikileaks and in post-Snowden era is quite stark.

 

Chronologically, it is revealed that “the concept of a unique identification was first discussed in 2006 when administrative approval for the project – ‘Unique ID for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families” was given on 3 March 2006 by the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.” A Processes Committee under Planning Commission was set up on 3 July 2006 to suggest processes for creation for the “core database”.
 

The counter affidavit states that COS was “apprised about the Unique Identification Number (UID) scheme of the Department of Information Technology (DIT) for creation of a residents’ database based on the electoral rolls database of Election Commission of India...”. It adds that the rest of the population (was to) be covered during Census 2011 to prepare National Population Register (NPR).

 

The fourth meeting of EGoM to collate two schemes- National Population Register (NPR/MNC) under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Unique Identification Number (UID) project of the Department of Information Technology (DIT) held on 4 November 2008 at 162, Committee Room, South Block. MNC stands for Multi-purpose National Identity Card based on NPR, which was envisaged during the tenure of BJP-led government. As per the minutes of the meeting, chairman of the EGoM, Pranab Mukherjee, the then Minister of External Affairs concluded that “It also needs to be appreciated that the whole exercise being technology based and system driven, there is immense scope far outsourcing the data collation and validation work and other tasks to expert agencies in the public or private sector through a transparent process while retaining requisite control over sovereign functions.”

 

In the context, he mentioned the Passport Seva Project where retaining the sovereign functions within government (MEA) rest of the infrastructure, management and software development functions have been outsourced through a transparent process to private sector. Mukherjee stated that the UID project is unique in that the organization (UIDAI) has to work in close collaboration with large number of institutions and agencies both within and outside the government and will take at least five years to stabilize. The government at that time may need to take a fresh view particularly in light of further advancements in technology. This keeps the door open for DNA based identification. 

 

A 14-page long document titled ‘Strategic Vision: Unique Identification of Residents’ prepared by Wipro Ltd and submitted to the Processes Committee has finally emerged. Its vision statement reads: “Creating a unique identification system of all residents in the country for efficient, transparent, reliable and effective delivery of various welfare and private services to the common person.” The cover page of the document mentions National Institute for Smart Government, DIT and Wipro Consulting. The ‘Strategic Vision on the UIDAI Project’ of Wipro Ltd, the consultant for the design phase and program management phase of the pilot UIDAI project. It envisaged the close linkage that the UIDAI would have to the electoral database. On 4 December 2006, the Prime Minister constituted an E-GoM comprising of Shivraj V Patil, Minister of Home Affairs, A Raja, Minister of Communications & Information Technology under the Chairmanship of Pranab Mukherjee, the then Minister of External Affairs. Doesn’t the presence of Raja as a member of EGoM and as the minister-in-charge of DIT which is/ was responsible for UID make the entire exercise tainted and create a rationale for re-visiting DIT’s proposal advanced in 2006 before the COS? 

 

At the first meeting of the EGoM on 7 November 2007, “the need for creating an identity related resident database and identify and establish and institutional mechanism that will “own” the database and will be responsible for its maintenance and updating on an ongoing basis post its creation was recognized.” The proposal of UIDAI was approved on 28 January 2008. Pursuant to a meeting held on 25 January 2012 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, “UIDAI was allowed to enroll 60 crore number by EFC which was formally approved by the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI in its meeting on 27 January 2012.” The fact remains Prime Minister is yet to reveal whether he and his family members have enrolled for biometric UID/ Aadhaar number.

 

Earlier, Prime Minister’s Council on UIDAI constituted on 30 July 2009 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister held its first meeting on 12 August 2009 after Nandan Nilekani assumed charge as the chairperson in the rank and status of a cabinet minister. After that a Cabinet Committee on UIDAI was constituted on 22 October 2009. In a related development, Goolam E Vahanavati, Attorney General for India gave his written opinion on 6 August 2011 stating, “I do not consider the issuance of Aadhaar numbers to be a violation of right to privacy contained in Article 21 of the Constitution.” Wipro Ltd, Consultant of Planning Commission as part of a section titled ‘Implementation challenges’ refers to the issue of Transparency vs. right to privacy. The basic premise for the success of UID is the concept of “one owner, many users”, according to the document. But as of now the fact is that there are multiple owners of the database both inside and outside the government.

 

Notably, Wipro, the Consultant of Planning Commission states that “It is envisaged that, in the long term, UID would transform into being a de facto identifier for all residents of the country.” Its document states that “Importantly, statutory backing would be required for the adoption of UID by residents, Government departments, its agencies and the private sector in the long term. But as of now UID is conceptualized as de facto identifier and not a de jure identifier.  This document has a section “Benefits to private/NGO Sector” wherein it states that “Private sector would be able to leverage the resident identification infrastructure and in turn, contribute to effective development activities, Use UID to speed up certain businesses, especially in the insurance and credit sectors, may eliminate the need for private sector to set-up parallel identification systems leading to improved efficiency in delivery of their services and a reduction in identity-related frauds in the service delivery.” Why this Congress led Government so obsessed with ensuring benefits for private/NGO sector using citizens’ personal sensitive information?  

 

Ravi Shankar Prasad, member of Parliament, (MP), general secretary and chief spokesperson, BJP issued a statement on behalf of the party dated 21 January 2012 on the subject of “UID & National Security”? The question is did he carefully read the report of the Yashwant Sinha headed Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance that was submitted to both the Houses of Parliament in December 2011. It appears that he and his party has not done so. Had it done so it would have realized that “preparation of Unique Identification Number (UID) (Aadhaar) being prepared by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)” itself is legally and constitutionally questionable. BJP maintains a deafening silence over the issue of illegal and illegitimate biometric data collection. This was an issue categorically raised by the Parliamentary Standing Committee and its Prime Ministerial candidate. Arun Jaitely also raised deep concerns about privacy in Aadhaar era in writing.  
 

BJP has asked the Indian National Congress led Government as to ‘What is the “Sanctity and integrity of the data” being collected by the UIDAI?’ Will a solemn reply by the Government stating that the “sanctity and integrity” of data in general and biometric data in particular being collected is being taken care assure and satisfy the principal opposition party? Is it looking for merely an assurance? Why is it choosing to be complicit about the illegality of biometric profiling as has been pointed out by the Parliamentary Committee? Will it continue with the illegality if it wins the 2014 elections? Its silence in this regard is quite glaring.
 

Why is BJP mixing up the issue of “National Register of Indian Citizens” and the identification of residents of India as proposed by biometric Aadhaar/ UID? The principal opposition party appears convinced about a need for a centralized database of citizens’ sensitive personal for “National Security”.

 

In its affidavit on UID/ Aadhaar number based biometric identification, the Congress-led Government has trapped the main opposition party in a political trap by paraphrasing what BJP- led government had articulated and undertaken when they were in power. This affidavit is also an attempt to give a political message to the Parliamentary Committee in question that both BJP and Congress essentially have similar position on biometric profiling of Indians and BJP’s opposition is merely a token opposition to justify its role as the principal opposition party. Notably, BJP is yet to take a position that if it wins 2014 elections it will dismantle the Aadhaar project as it suffers from democracy deficit.    

 

Meanwhile, on 26 November 2013, the Supreme Court gave an order that reads: "After hearing the matter at length, we are of the view that all the States and Union Territories have to be impleaded as respondents to give effective directions.  In view of these notices to be issued to all the states and union territories through standing counsel. The advocates who have already entered appearance must file their replies within a period of three days from today. Learned standing counsel for the states who were not represented may take instructions from their respective states and file their response within one week."

 

The Court refused to modify its order its order of 23 September 2013 stating that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory. Its modification was sought by the central government implying that it wanted to make it mandatory. This is contrary to the written opinion of Attorney General for India dated 6 August 2011 wherein he stated, because “…participation in the Scheme is voluntary”, it is not a violation of right to privacy.    


Citizens and states must note that it is not a question of Aadhaar number being voluntary or mandatory, which seems to be the focus of the proposed resolution in the West Bengal State Assembly. It is a question of citizens being turned into subjects using illegal and illegitimate biometric Aadhaar number.

 

You may also want to read…

 

Why biometric identification of citizens must be resisted? Part I
 

Biometric identification is modern day enslavement -Part II
 

Biometric profiling, including DNA, is dehumanising -Part III
 

Marketing and advertising blitzkrieg of biometric techies and supporters -Part IV
 

History of technologies reveals it is their owners who are true beneficiaries -Part V
 

UID's promise of service delivery to poor hides IT, biometrics industry profits –Part VI
 

Technologies and technology companies are beyond regulation? -Part VII
 

Surveillance through biometrics-based Aadhaar –Part VIII
 

Narendra Modi biometrically profiled. What about Congress leaders?-Part IX
 

Aadhaar: Why opposition ruled states are playing partner for biometric UID? -Part X

 

Is Nandan Nilekani acting as an agent of non-state actors? –Part XI

 

(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)

User

COMMENTS

Chingkheinganba

3 years ago

MY govt. spying on me :(

Next to the US spy project India launch a new Spy project towards it's own second largest population

Ravi S

3 years ago

Opponents of Aadhaar believe that snooping / surveillance cannot be done without Aadhaar. Narendra Modi (CM of Gujarat) did the extensive (every minute) snooping of a female Architect (his alleged girl-friend) not only on land but also in airplane in the year-2009 i.e. before existence of Aadhaar. How this snoop-gate happened? Because intentions of the powerful in government matter a lot!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveillance
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/17/opinio...
http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/s...
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-electron...
http://www.ico.org.uk/for_organisations/...

REPLY

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

In addition, just think as per your wording "Because intentions of the powerful in government matter a lot!"...
NOW think (if you have the organ for this), what the UID can do to demolish/destroy you!

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

Well...well...well!
Looks like the PR of UIDAI ( or pvt contractor, who is suffering from such articles) is on a big HIT job again today.

Anyway...just give answers to two simple questions...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don\'t hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

All this information is being collected for sale to the corporate !

Who will then squeeze the pulp out of us to the very skin and then sell us even our air and the water !

BTW....Get well soon, CONgressi from the NaMofobia... LOL

Ravi S

3 years ago

Transgender MumbaiOne, please do not hide behind burqa of pseudonym. And learn to write substance, not just release gas.

REPLY

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

BTW...Is something missing before the S in your name? like A*s? Transgender KING..sorry AKKA!

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

ANSWERS PLS....

1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don\'t hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

All this information is being collected for sale to the corporates like Ravi S !

Who will then squeeze the pulp out of us to the very skin and then sell us even our air and the water !

Ravi S

3 years ago

Opponents of Aadhaar believe that snooping / surveillance cannot be done without Aadhaar. Then how Narendra Modi (CM of Gujarat) did the extensive snooping (every minute) of a girl not only on land but also in airplane in year-2009 i.e. before existence of Aadhaar? Intention of the powerful matters a lot!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveillance
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/17/opinio...
http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/s...
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-electron...
http://www.ico.org.uk/for_organisations/...

REPLY

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

BTW...What Narendra Modi has to do with this? Or you CONgressi can't think without him?
LOL

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

Well...well...well!
Looks like the PR of UIDAI ( or pvt contractor, who is suffering from such articles) is on a big HIT job again today.

Anyway...just give answers to two simple questions...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don\'t hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

All this information is being collected for sale to the corporate !

Who will then squeeze the pulp out of us to the very skin and then sell us even our air and the water !

Ravi S

3 years ago

Corrupts wants privacy to commit corruption so that they are not tracked and caught later.

REPLY

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

Well...well...well!
Looks like the PR of UIDAI ( or pvt contractor, who is suffering from such articles) is on a big HIT job again today.

Anyway...just give answers to two simple questions...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don\'t hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

All this information is being collected for sale to the corporate !

Who will then squeeze the pulp out of us to the very skin and then sell us even our air and the water !

Ravi S

In Reply to Mumbai One 3 years ago

First, do not hide yourself behind burqa i.e. pseudo name. Tell your real name. Male, female or transgender (hizra)? Looks like transg.....

Second, tell what corruption you have to hide.

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

No Point in getting Angry old man...

Just give answers to two simple questions if you have guts...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don\'t hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

Ravi S

3 years ago

Aadhaar status {verifiable with UIDAI website portal (dot) uidai (dot) gov (dot) in}
People registered: Over 600 million (60.0 crore) i.e. Half the population,
Aadhaar assigned: About 500 million (50.0 crore),
Population of India: 1250 million (125 crore or 1.25 billion),
Average Aadhaar rate: 30 million/ month,
Milestone planned: 600 million Aadhaar by March-2014 (easily achievable @ 1 million / day),
Remaining Enrollment of 650 million continues thru NPR (Ministry of Home Affairs - Census Operations - RGI) in illegal migrant infested states and populous states like UP, Bihar, J&K, W. Bengal, TN, Arunachal, Assam, Mizoram etc. Enrollment thru NPR is done only for Citizens after weeding out the Illegal migrants.

REPLY

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

Well...well...well!
Looks like the PR of UIDAI ( or pvt contractor, who is suffering from such articles) is on a big HIT job again today.

Anyway...just give answers to two simple questions...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don\'t hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

All this information is being collected for sale to the corporate !

Who will then squeeze the pulp out of us to the very skin and then sell us even our air and the water !

Ravi S

3 years ago

Privacy of corruption?
Some privacy champions raise the privacy issue which is irrelevant in a poor country like India where about 750 million people starve for 2-square meal, where illiteracy is high, where religion & caste-based-bias continues, rampant corruption & exploitation exists. They forget that India has a law called Information Technology Act 2000. It has been in existence since year 2000 that protects Aadhaar information along with other laws.

Aadhaar registration collects biometric data and bare minimum information (proof of identity, age, and residence) through enrollment form. Peruse the Enrollment-form with data fields on page-1 and instructions on page-2. No profiling information is collected, like religion, caste, income, property-holding, education etc.

Privacy issues and risks equally apply to information and data (with or without biometrics) provided by people to census office, tax office, passport office, driving license, vehicle registration, land and building registration, registration of birth, marriage and death, employers (current, past and prospective), banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, telephone service provider, television service provider, internet service provider, internet services (email, video, social media, search engine, chat, voice, file-storage and transfer etc.), registration at school/college, marriage bureaus, post-office and courier services, hospital registration and medical records, visa of US and UK etc.

In India, government departments, public and private sectors have been using biometrics (fingerprints, blood group, color of eyes, height, weight and face photo) for various purposes for decades and centuries in some or all offices. Biometrics record has been a mandatory condition for employment with civil services and Defense departments (10 fingerprints, face photo, color of eyes, blood group, height, weight) since British era to the modern day; nowadays it is also used for access and attendance. Examples of fingerprints usage in other areas are: Land and building registration (since British era), Planning Commission (for access and attendance), census office (for compulsory NPR), Passport, RTO (for driving license), insurance companies, IT, BPO and healthcare companies (for access and attendance), visa of US and UK etc. Aadhaar does not violate any privacy or fundamental right.

India has seen anti-modernization protests in the past too. Some people caused bandh & hartals in protest against modernization and computerization of Banking & Rail-ticket 25 years ago. Today people are very happy to enjoy bank ATM and to book rail-ticket from anywhere. Then they had argued that paper records were better than computers. Now those protesters never want to reveal that they ever protested against computerization.
Ironically, there is no opposition to collection of biometric data at other points of services. People stand in long queues to imprint biometrics for obtaining Indian passport, US, UK visa. The attendance & access of most of the IT & ITeS companies are biometric based. The attendance & access of the Planning Commission of India is also biometric based. People have been imprinting all ten-fingers plus details of eyes and other identification marks on body on the first day of joining employment in Defense department of India (civilian as well as service personnel) since British rule of India. Yet one never opposed all that.
The use of electronic devices provides no privacy; such as mobile phone, internet (particularly social network media), email, television, bank card, traffic camera. At any moment the government and the service provider knows of geographical location of people, of conversation on phone, with whom, what we are reading, writing or watching on internet, and what TV channel we are watching, when and for how long. All this is done under electronic surveillance thru device identifiers like IMEI, IP address, GPS etc.

Embassies have switched over to mechanical type-writers in 2013 after CIA worker Snowden’s disclosures. Government also knows our movements thru the traffic cameras on roads, our vehicle number plate, our face etc.
Despite this knowledge, the privacy champions do not want to stop using mobile phones, internet, TV etc. Their sole objective is subversion of Aadhaar, nothing else, and they will not succeed because Aadhaar has already crossed the critical-mass on 15-Aug-2013 by enrolling about 450 million people, assigning 400 million Numbers and linking 30 million bank accounts for Direct Benefit Transfer across many states. And as of November-2013, 500 million Aadhaar have been assigned.

Opponents of Aadhaar believe that snooping / surveillance cannot be done without Aadhaar. Then how Narendra Modi (CM of Gujarat) did the extensive snooping (every minute) of a girl not only on land but also in airplane in year-2009 i.e. before existence of Aadhaar? Intention of the powerful matters a lot!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveillance
http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/17/opinio...
http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/s...
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-electron...
http://www.ico.org.uk/for_organisations/...

REPLY

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

Well...well...well!
Looks like the PR of UIDAI ( or pvt contractor, who is suffering from such articles) is on a big HIT job again today.

Anyway...just give answers to two simple questions...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don\'t hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

All this information is being collected for sale to the corporate !

Who will then squeeze the pulp out of us to the very skin and then sell us even our air and the water !

Ravi S

3 years ago

As the public databases are getting inter-linked one by one thru Aadhaar Number in various States (particularly Delhi, Maharashtra, Andhra), we see the following effects:
1. Middlemen & Officials are finding difficult to continue with corruption in public welfare pensions, scholarships, public health, NREGA, subsidy on PDS Ration, Kerosene, LPG etc.
2. Ineligible, duplicate and fictitious beneficiaries are getting eliminated from public welfare programs.
3. Corrupts will find difficult to buy & sell benami land & building (i.e.under fictitious name).
4. Corrupts will find difficult to open & operate benami companies for money-laundering.
5. Corrupts will find difficult to open & operate benami bank accounts for keeping black-money.
6. Tax-evaders will find difficult to evade taxes.
7. Impersonation & proxy will be difficult to commit.
8. Criminals & Terrorists will get detected and tracked thru inter-linked databases of mobile phone, bank account, travel documents etc.
9. Illegal Immigrants will get detected and tracked thru inter-linked databases of mobile phone, bank account, travel documents etc. They will have no place to hide on Indian soil.
10. It will get difficult for Criminals to hide as records are getting accessible to Police from any State of India.
11. It will get difficult to obtain another new Driving License and Arms License from another State once it got impounded.
12. Fraudsters will not be able to steal Provident Fund money.
13. Onion Hoarders will get tracked easily.
14. Dummy candidates will not be able to write competitive exams for others for the sake of money.
15. Ineligible people will not be able to misuse the certificates of income, domicile, education degrees and caste to deprive the eligible people.

REPLY

Mumbai One

In Reply to Ravi S 3 years ago

Well...well...well!
Looks like the PR of UIDAI ( or pvt contractor, who is suffering from such articles) is on a big HIT job again today.

Anyway...just give answers to two simple questions...
1. Who owns the UID database? Is it the Indian govt or private agencies/firms?
2. Which is the law that regulates the collection of biometric data, and Aadhaar itself? Don\'t hide behind the lapsed executive order as any such thing become irrelevant after six months.

All this information is being collected for sale to the corporate !

Who will then squeeze the pulp out of us to the very skin and then sell us even our air and the water !

Fear is the silent killer!

Fear mongering is the norm. People get sick because of the fear instilled by advertising. This provides fodder for pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs

"They laugh at me because,
  I'm different; I laugh at them because,
  They're all the same."  - Kurt Cobain

 

John Kenneth Galbraith, if he were alive today, would have changed the definition of advertisements in his famous book, Affluent Society, written in 1958. He had written that advertisements are not to inform the buyer about the product but to make him want to buy that product even when it is not needed. He made a clear distinction between needs and wants, rightly so for an Harvard ace economist! If Mr Galbraith were to see cancer technology advertisements today, with poor patients walking to the scanner in hospital robes, every fifteen minutes, he would have died of fear of cancer! Incidentally, John died at the ripe old age of 97, in 2006. It is as if advertisements are inviting you to be a cancer patient to avail of their wonderful hi-tech facility! The cancer technology television advertisements reminds one that cancer is is due to attack any time soon, creating morbid fear of cancer and death. This happens hundreds of times daily.
 

Advertising for killer cooking oils, full of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), so called ‘heart healthy oil’, with a picture of a beating heart evokes viewers the alarm reaction of an impending heart attack if one does not use the advertised oil, is another fear mongering tactic. The truth is that PUFA are very bad for the heart. The first New York study in 1957 by Dr Norman Jollife, director of the New York City Health Department, of 1,100 people who were given polyunsaturated fats showed that their blood fat reports all came to accepted NORMALS; however, 26 of those people had died of premature heart attacks in one year while only six had died in the control group. This sordid drama has been repeated in every other study since. Now, it is also known that atherosclerotic plaques are filled with polyunsaturated fats. The ‘heart healthy oil’ advertisements are thus a double edged sword—with one edge inducing fear of heart attacks to kill more people and the other creating advanced atherosclerosis because of polyunsaturated fats in those oils.
 

There’s one where young children drool at an advertisement of fried chicken with another poisonous free drink by its side as a bonus. These drinks are advertised separately by sports and film stars. In return, they get a few crores! I must congratulate our prime minister for awarding the Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar despite reservations from the home ministry. Sachin Tendulkar, as Bharat Ratna, can no longer advertise those bottled drinks and unhealthy desiccated milk drinks. Thank God, millions of his fans’ health will thus improve. Our prime minister is a brainy hero who had killed two birds with one stone-improving the health of young Indians and boosting his party’s sagging vote bank.
 

We seem to think that western science is the be all and end all of human wisdom. Those who follow that get funding from the government and are praised to the skies. Let us examine and see what the great western thinkers think about their own science? In his editorial for Science, former President Clinton wrote, "...we must always remember that science is not God. Our deepest truths remain outside the realm of science." Our prime minister, a good friend of Clinton, would take this advice to know what the limits of science are before being lead to allot more and more money for science research in India. To exculpate science’s inability to to answer the ultimate questions in life, Peter Medawar, a Nobel Laureate in his book Limits to Science, tries to do his best to protect scientific endeavour against damage by people and governments. He takes up important matters but admits that science as an enterprise, although the best to date, has its own inherent limits! ‘Science’, he feels, is built to answer certain questions but not all questions and compares science to a railway engine that can only move on a track but cannot be made to fly like an aeroplane. This is a wonderful book that should be read before claiming that science is the best that can happen to mankind.
 

Science’ came up at a time when the earlier enterprise called ‘religion’ was reigning high and mighty causing havoc. Rightly, scientific enterprise has been able to counter the religious monopoly to a great extent. Unfortunately, there has not been an enterprise to keep scientific arrogance under control so far. So, ‘science’, as I shall show, is running unchallenged to date.
 

Paul Feyerabend, a former colleague of Karl Popper, was the professor of science philosophy at UC Berkeley and later at Federal Institute of Technology at Zurich, wrote a classic Against Method. He takes the reader through a maze of science to show the truth hidden somewhere else. Along with Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discoveries and Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Feyerabend’s Against Method has become a classic in its own right. He writes, “Western science now reigns supreme all over the globe; however, the reason was not the insight in its inherent rationality but power play. The colonising nations imposed their ways of living and their need for weapons. Western science so far has created the most efficient instruments of death.” Western medicine helped temporarily to control some infections, but that does not mean that western science is the only tradition that has good and that other forms of inquiry are without any merit whatsoever “First-world science is one science among many; by claiming to be more it ceases to be an instrument of research and turns into a (political) pressure group.” Feyerabend writes extensively on these points in his classic, Farewell to Reason.
 

The best critique of science I saw is in a book by two physicists, Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch, with an interesting and very apt title, The Golem. They are using Golem as a metaphor for science. It is worth noting that this mediaeval tradition of creature of clay (In India we find it even now on new buildings etc.) was animated by the writing EMETH, meaning truth, inscribed on its forehead. It is the truth that drives it on but it does not mean it understands the truth-far from it! Golem science is not to be blamed for its mistakes (of not going to the moon); they are our mistakes. The Golem cannot be blamed as it is trying to do its best. We must not expect too much from science. A Golem, powerful though it is, is but a creature of our own art and our craft.
 

Medical science has much more to answer for compared to general sciences. We need to worry that the pharmaceutical industry scandals in recent years, including some criminal convictions, billions of dollars in fines, proof of bias in research and publishing and false marketing claims. Even the Ivy League universities in the United States are not exempt from this fraud of potential financial conflicts by faculty members. The Harvard Medical School said it was unable to provide annual measures of the money flow to its faculty, beyond the $8.6 million that pharmaceutical companies contributed last year for basic-science research and the $3 million for continuing education classes on campus. Most of the money goes to professors at the Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals. The dean’s office does not keep track of the total, but no one disputes that Harvard Medical faculty members receive tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year through industry consulting and speaking fees. Under the school’s disclosure rules, about 1,600 of 8,900 professors and lecturers have reported to the dean that they or a family member had a financial interest in a business related to their teaching, research or clinical care. The reports show 149 financial ties with Pfizer and 130 with Merck.
 

In our present ‘health SCARE system’, we do not want to be left behind in the advertisement field. Come winter and we are out with the flu vaccine-scare mongering advertisements. Scientific studies have shown that flu vaccine is not effective in the first place and it might even increase the risk of catching flu. But every winter season we are frightened and we want to be vaccinated. Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) was linked to giant pharma lobby in the Swine Flu saga a couple of years ago, when the former unscientifically permitted the tag of ‘PANDEMIC’ to the disease just to help the vaccine manufacturers to get good business, especially from all the governments all over the world. ‘Disease mongering’ has become a routine in our medical establishment.
 

When a company found a new chemical molecule that reduced the blood pressure (BP), they wanted to have more hypertensives. In Germany, where most original ideas emanate, there were ‘WELL MAN’ clinics. These were small vans with a mobile clinic inside having BP apparatuses and cute nurses. These vans would be parked in church squares on Sundays and shopping malls on all days. People are invited for a FREE CHECK UP. When the beautiful nurse holds your hand your BP shoots up and you become a ‘hypertensive’. Then you consume ‘hypertensive’ drugs immediately. Same applies to hyperglycaemia.
 

Morning newspapers carry the ‘scientific’ averments of our sacred thought leaders, especially in our metropolis cities, led from Chennai, now and then are stating that India will be the diabetic capital of the world, thus provoking fear in each of us. In the good old days when we were hunter gatherers, humans were endowed with a wonderful survival mechanism called the autonomic nervous system and the RAAS (Renin angiotensin aldosterone system), to save us from predators in the forest. If one sees a tiger s/he had to run away from the tiger. To run we need energy and better blood supply. The sight of the tiger in the forest makes our blood pressure and heart rate go up and our blood sugar to sharply rise, for energy. This sugar comes from the glycogen stores in the liver meant for such emergencies.
 

Today we have similar ‘urban tigers’ in form of a bad boss, a nasty subordinate, or the fear mongering in daily advertisements. They all provoke the same fright-flight-fight response, similar to our forest ancestors’ days. Our sugars, cortisol levels, heart rates and our BP go up when we see these so called ‘urban tigers’. We cannot run away from today’s ‘urban tigers’. Mostly we sit and endure the fear. If you go for a health check after such encounters your BP and sugars would have have gone up already. Lo and behold you are ‘labelled’ immediately! That adds up, in the long run, to provoke killer diseases like cancer, heart attacks, blood pressure and diabetes.
 

George Bernard Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma needs no longer be insulated for his restraint. Now David Wootton painstakingly argues in his short, but undoubtedly explosive new book, Bad Medicine, that the history of medicine has been nothing less than a failure and doctors have been the culprits. Look at a recent audit of coronary stents from Boston. “Despite their benefit, the stents form scar tissue inside the metal sleeve in approximately 20% of patients, and when this occurs, it requires re-treatment with another angioplasty or with coronary bypass surgery. The recurrence rate with so called ‘in-stent’ restenosis is higher than after the first time stent placement, and may occur in 30-80% of patients, depending on the degree of the scar tissue within the stent. Thus far, we have been unable to lower this recurrence rate with medicine, drilling devices, or additional stents. The impact on the lives of those patients who develop ‘stent’ restenosis is profound to say the least,” writes Jeffrey Popma, director of Interventions at Harvard. Books and journals are good enough in their own way, but they are a poor substitute for life’s experiences.
 

 “Don’t confuse your path with your destination,

Because it’s stormy now doesn’t mean,

That you aren’t headed for sunshine.”

Anon   

 

(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London.)

 

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COMMENTS

suresh dash

3 years ago

Nicely written the article.Got fed with more valuable information relating to our fear on medicines, disease etc. Thanks moneylife.com

Simple Indian

3 years ago

Modern science is only beginning to do what all religions have done for centuries. While religions tend to inculcate a sense of fear of God in devotees, to ensure their adherence to rites and rituals, science tends to inculcate the same fear with doctored data to benefit pharmaceutical companies for huge profits. This fear-mongering is increasing as people tend to fall for so-called 'scientific' data analysis, which repeatedly get challenged to prove things otherwise.
The best way to counter such dubious practices is for training our rational mind to peruse all information from various sources, but come to one's own conclusions. In this era, there are institutions and organizations with vested interests in every sphere of life.

Ashish

3 years ago

Excellent Post and very true... a casual browsing of the web would make you believe that any disease you contract will lead to eventual complication and termination..

Even the positive notes are filled in with caveats..

Senior citizens are becoming new customers for many

Elderly population in India is turning into the new customer segment that is large and distinctive with significant purchasing power

Today there is an urgent need to address the wellness of present day Elders, officially designated Senior Citizens, that encompass their physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual needs by looking at them from an entirely new perspective because of their sheer increasing numbers in absolute terms in the demographic divide that now make them an extremely vital segment of the community that require to be reckoned with. One report puts it – “In India, the senior living sector with strength of over 100 million is poised for a significant growth in the years to come.” 
 

Mr. Harish Bhat, MD&CEO of Tata Global Beverages and author of Tata Log: Eight Modern Stories from a Timeless Institutions writing in the Brand Line column of the Hindu Business Line calls upon the marketers to include the Elderly Population of India as the “new customer segment that is large and distinctive with significant purchasing power”. He writes their population increasing, they are also willing to spend reasonable amounts of money on their essential requirements, in many cases their children, who earn good money are also willing to contribute. They have a distinct set of needs – as they may suffer from weak eyesight or infirm hands that are unable to work with small buttons or phone or remote controls with small keys, slippery bar soaps, wrist watches. He suggests easy to use uncomplicated mobiles with large fonts. Also, banks and reality need to develop products to cater to this segment. Besides there is also a significant proportion of this segment who are naturally either obese and of large build  or unusually tall or with large waists, wrists and feet who search for ‘jeans that can make them look slimmer’, bathroom slippers that they can easily slip their feet into, cars and airline seats  that they can be comfortable in.  They even have specific needs of foods and beverages at variance from others.

 

The FMCG sector too has now come to recognize the fact that the Elders too have truly arrived as a new class of discerning customers:
 

  • The elders are found to wield potential brand loyalty and buying power as they have a lot of time to study to decide and weigh the pros and cons of products on offer. Seniors are extremely choosy customers with extremely strong brand loyalties built over the years.
  • They are generous consumers who generally tend to continue to stick to their favourite time tested brands all along and are less likely to change brands irrespective of any tempting marketing offers.
  • They are certainly wiser and consequently more rational in making right choices. They are less likely to be influenced by misleading ads and trends.
     

A recent Research Survey of 1,900 elders from 12 cities in India reveals:

  1. Demographical estimates with the average life expectancy crossing 70, with more population living longer than ever before. Their numbers are expected touch 198m in 2030 from 118m by 2016 from 98m today where they constitute nearly 7.5% of India’s population and 12.4 % in 2016.
  2. According to the 2011 census 8.3% was 60+ up from 7.4% in 2011.
  3. 70% consider moving out of towns into homes of their own.
  4. 42% ranked security as the top concern.
  5.  80% seek to sustain their current lifestyle or even improve upon it since they do not contemplate full retirement per se.
  6. 75% want to continue to be active in community activities, to walk and exercise, socialise, club, party, yoga, sports, shop around, indulge in writing, skype, surfing internet to keep in touch with relations and friends from all over the world.
  7. 30% live alone without pre-deceased spouses; with off-springs staying outside even abroad and are in single independent houses cut off from immediate contact with the society outside.
  8. 80-90% prefers to continue to work gainfully or for a cause.
  9. Their pre-retirement earnings have grown more than 20% over the last two decades.
  10.  With increasing income streams either from their own savings/ investments or remittances from children abroad they now seek a hassle-free secure retired life.
  11.  60% live in nuclear families according to a National Family Health Survey.

Many reality operators have now zeroed on the seniors to satisfy the growing demand for Senior Care Communities where the lifestyles, socio-economic and healthcare requirements are well taken care of. The developers have jumped into the bandwagon to take a piece of the burgeoning cake of the Assisted Living Community Projects.

  • Customised colonies for senior citizens provide options of living safely and in lifestyle-oriented homes catering to their special needs to live on their own terms with easy access to facilities and services essential for day-to-day living. They bring together like-minded people in the same age-group, essentially elders with similar interests and economic status. They address serious concerns in view of increased elder-targeted urban crimes, difficulties in getting good domestic help and unsafe commuting. 
     
  • Proactive Elder Healthcare with well-being when beset with reducing vision, hearing loss, physical flexibility and muscle disabilities require productive living in the midst of holistic surroundings too has moved far away from the traditional conservative Old peoples’ home concept when they were left behind by their uncaring  children to fend for themselves can now lead a post retirement life with dignity in the company of peers sans the stigma attached to old-age homes    
  • The present lot of elders are certainly healthier as well as wealthier and many have $ rich off springs remitting funds home too.
  • The developers now go out of the way to address the concerns of security, management of the household by providing reliable services of domestic staff too.
  • After ascertaining the specific requirements of this age group  that arise out  of social isolation, loneliness and lack of activity or active engagement with the outside world absence of which leading to declining in mental health has  lead developers like Paranjapes, Gagan Nulife, Tatas, Max India and others to launch specially  Assisted Community Living Reality projects -  seven in Bengaluru, three each  in Chennai and Pune, two each in Kochi, Goa and Kolkatta and one each in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bhopal, Jaipur, Delhi, Nagpur and Chandigarh tailored to make life easier for the resident elders by incorporating  elder-centric facilities like :

       Step-free/ ramped access all throughout the community buildings - larger doorways, wider approaches, no-step entries, larger living areas facilitating free manoeuvrability for wheel chairs and walkers.
        24-hour low glare lighting and/or standby gensets or 100% power back up.
        24x7 Security, Emergency/panic alarm call buttons/cords.
        Anti-skid floors more particularly in wet areas.
        Grab-bars in bathrooms.
        Low height shelves and sliding doors and windows.
        Internet and wi-fi connectivity.
        Libraries, Reading Rooms, club houses with hobby facilities, bridge, rummy and chess, cafes, restaurants, spas, theatres, yoga and prayer halls, common green open spaces.
        Care takers'/servants' quarters.
       24x7 in-house/ on-call medical and primary healthcare facilities, ambulance and door delivery of drugs. Speciality and nursing care, physio-therapy, primary health care and regular check ups. Tie-up with a nearest fully equipped multi-specialty hospital with ICU, trauma care and ambulance on call.
        Concierge, daily house keeping, laundry, round-the-clock food and dining, ATM services.
        Shuttle with driver to the nearest metro.
        Expense break up - 30% food, 25% healthcare, 20% housekeeping, 10% social life and 10% others
     
    Elder-related activities also help create local labour-intensive gainful  employment opportunities in housekeeping, administration, security, nursing and geriatric  and health care for the  men and women of all ages nearer their homes without their having to migrate to cities in search of jobs and stay in hovel and pavements.

    FMCGs are now drawing up various options to target this so far long neglected target coming to hold that there is gold in the old!

    (Inputs from the Hindu Business Line, India Today and Times of India.)

    (Nagesh Kini is a Mumbai-based chartered accountant turned activist
     

User

COMMENTS

Shri Krishan Narang

3 years ago

An excellent article for senior citizen, and as president of CSIR Pensioners Welfare Association, Jamshedpur, I would like to share it with all my colleagues and friends.

Professor Dr BM Hegde

3 years ago

Dear Kini,
Congrats, you have done a good job in collecting all these statistics. The most important need is need for human love, especially their children and grandchildren's love which has become a rare commodity in the midst of all these mentioned in your surveys.
If we could go back to the olden days large family system I think most elderly and old elderly (>80) could do without many of these wants. As you grow old one important thing that one has to do is to keep his/her brain active. This will keep the memory and all other bodily functions active.
Senior's club is a good idea and social service is another tonic. To say that they are good market is a purely money making trick. 25% for so called health care is only for illness care which could be cut down drastically if doctors do not practise poly-pharmacy on the older population. In fact, polypharmacy in old age is the important casue of heart attacks and strokes!
bmhegde

REPLY

laxman guruvayur

In Reply to Professor Dr BM Hegde 3 years ago

Dear Mr(Dr).Hegde,I fully concur with ur viewpoint.The report is just for publicity and statistics are of Metros.What about rural India/semi-urban/home for the aged across INDIA
Mr Harish Bhat talks like a salesman rather than true concern for senior citizens.

nagesh kini

In Reply to Professor Dr BM Hegde 3 years ago

Thanks Doc.
It is sad that the good old joint family system that addressed most of the concerns of built-in safety and security, emotional and financial support, baby sitting, counselling kids are given a go-bye in the nuclear families.
I've known the so-called snooty 'educated' girls demanding at the boy-meet-girl pre-engagement talk if he has 'old furniture/excess baggage/waste paper basket' - meaning live-in parents.
Then we have the NRIs who are in fact "NOT RELIABLE/REQUIRED INDIANS" who summon their mothers/mothers-in-law in turn to to take care of their newly delivered babies giving rise to a new acronym for IAS - "International Ayah Service".

suresh dash

3 years ago

I am a sebior citizen. I get plenty of sms regarding make money at home allurement even to get income more than laksh per month on sitting in home with help of computer system and their help.Theychartge Rs.3685/- to give link and knowledge. Please suggest if these are authentic or simply cheating matters.-suresh Dash.9438600322.

REPLY

nagesh kini

In Reply to suresh dash 3 years ago

keep off these allurements, they are absolute fakes

suresh dash

In Reply to nagesh kini 3 years ago

Thanks for the suggestion.I was also thinking so.

suresh dash

In Reply to nagesh kini 3 years ago

Thanks for the suggestion.I was also thinkning so.

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