Aurobindo Banerjee, former chief commissioner of Income Tax, in this open letter to the UIDAI chief, highlights the issue of legal status of the Aadhaar number and its acceptance as valid proof by mobile operators
Mr Nandan Nilekani,
As a young officer of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) in the early 1970s, I can claim to have first mooted the idea of something like the Aadhaar number to track black money and we got a somewhat primitive version of today's PAN, which is much improved now.
When Aadhaar was introduced and you took over as the head of the project, with your background, I was elated, though much older and already retired. I had great hopes and was simply waiting to get my Aadhaar number and was proud to obtain one last year. I even wrote to your office to link it up with the PAN, which is still NOT done in the current version of the project (I have again submitted myself, along with my nephews for yet another series of cards.) I can, however, add that I proudly carry my Aadhaar and Pensioners' ID cards, both issued by the Government of India (GoI), on my person always.
But, as one dabbling in the arena of law for 35 years and even now, I have serious doubts about the legal sanctity of the very concept from my personal experience and hence this mail, for whatever it is worth to you. People like us cannot be associated with this type of innovations, but we certainly can give our feedback, I hope.
I am a retired chief commissioner of Income-tax and have a Pensioners' ID card as well as the Aadhaar number. I applied for getting my Vodafone mobile connection, migrated to Airtel on the basis of the aforesaid two documents. Airtel refused to accept the validity of Aadhaar number (and ID card issued by the I-T Department). As TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is NOT accessible, can I request the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to take up the issue to ensure that Aadhaar number is given its proper recognition by the private operators in the telecom arena?
As a retired civil servant, it is insulting to me (and to my country) that a private party would refuse to accept the Aadhaar number as a legally valid ID or residence proof. In fact, the government should take action against Airtel for this utter disrespect of the sovereign Govt of India.
I am sure, you do feel the same way as this 68 years-old man does.
A Banerjee, IRS (Retd.)
Ex-Chief Commissioner of Income-tax
Note:Moneylife has sent a mail to Airtel and we would incorporate their response as and when we receive it.
Anand Halve motivates people to work for change, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Dr Verghese Kurien
India’s big challenge today is to get people to work together towards making change happen. But what motivates people to join our efforts? Anand Halve, co-founder of Chlorophyll and a senior advertising professional, gave an evocative talk on how to make an emotional connect between people and good causes so that a large number of people can come together and create the right momentum to yield positive results. Mr Halve was speaking at the Moneylife Foundation’s event on Co-operating for Positive Change, to commemorate the birth anniversary of Dr Verghese Kurien. This was connected to the petition by over 12,200 (and growing) people for awarding a Bharat Ratna to Dr Verghese Kurien for this tremendous work in transforming the lives of millions of farmers and taking India from a milk deficit nation to the largest producer of milk.
Mr Halve said that his thoughts are largely influenced by an activist involved in the uprising at Tehrir Square and how they used technology to reach people. His first insight was that when you want change, the officially recognised media are often compromised and therefore, the kind of support you can expect from them is almost by definition, limited.
Having said that, the first ‘enemy’ to getting people to act is ‘apathy’. There are four dimensions to this apathy and we need to understand them in order to motivate people to join good causes. The first of these, said Mr Halve, is the assumption of futility—so it is a big challenge to get past the attitude that nothing will ever happen, so why bother to try.
The second dimension to remember is, while the action may be collective, the motivation has to be individual. The third is to be able to rope in those people who are likely to be able to do the most. Based on his involvement with the Jayaprakash Narayan movement, he said, the group that is not compromised as yet—because of family pressures or other social responsibilities are students.
The fourth challenge today, said Mr Halve is the symbolic cop out—which means, “I go to the website, light a virtual candle and go back thinking I have done my bit for the cause.”
Another important learning and realisation from the Arab Spring uprising and other movements was that people are not moved by intellect—they are moved by emotion. Whatever the cause, if it does not connect to us at an emotional level, it is not going to work. He added that the button to be pressed is emotion and the manner in which we relate to it and so the manner in which we couch our message has to be emotional and not intellectual. At Tehrir, activists discovered that if you appeal to peoples’ intellect, they will come up with a rational and intellectual cop-out. If you appeal to their emotions, and there is a sense of personal benefit or reward, then people are hooked. For instance, if you appeal to people to save electricity, it doesn’t move them; but if you tell them that using a CFL bulb will cut their electricity bill by half, they will act on it.
A third key ingredient in building movements is to be able to provide a platform—not for individual rants, but for a plan of action. In this, social media platforms such as twitter and Facebook or a wiki are important building blocks.
Finally, he said, it is important to define the cause in a simple manner. The world’s problems are too hard for anybody to solve, but when they are broken down into smaller issues there is a core group of people to support it. He also said that every individual supporter is important, because when we get one supporter, we also get his network, and when we get a network, we get a network of that network—that is the power, that is phenomenal. Having said that, he pointed out that the massive reach that is available when mainstream media supports a cause can never be under-estimated. “Arvind Kejriwal could have continued to rant at Jantar Manter, but it wouldn’t have 1/50th of effect as it did when the OB vans (of television channels) arrived”. The pull of celebrity should also not be underestimated, he said. He gave an example of the fact that more people watched Anna Hazare on the day that Amir Khan went to meet him, than any other day of his fast. The pull of film stars in attracting people is a fact and it must be recognised. It is best to recognise it.
We have become a visual society and the impact of visuals is very important he said, going back to what worked with the uprising at Tehrir Square. The activists at Tehrir Square, he said, gave out mobile phones with video capability to a lot of people and asked them to just shoot what they saw and upload it on the internet. Soon the videos were picked up by BBC and broadcast all over the world. The use of pictures also has enormous effect—“We sometimes miss out on the power of images, if it wasn’t for images, all the news items would have the same effect”, he added. For instance, the water cannons aimed at Arvind Kejriwal’s supporters had a bigger connect. In the Amul case, the movie Manthan brought home to most Indians what was really happening at Anand and in Gujarat on the milk revolution. History is replete with examples of how powerful iconic images have captured defining moments of wars, celebrations and disasters he said.
Mr Halve said, lastly, the long term-goal should always be in one’s mind. The cause may be very worthwhile and there may be a big long-term goal, but it is important to have small wins because there is a short time horizon to measuring the effectiveness of what we do. In wrapping up his thoughts, Mr Halve said, one cannot stress enough, the need for an emotional connect ; the next thing to remember is to keep things simple and uncomplicated. In whatever manner and form, one should think of ways in which things can be made easy. Mr Halve ended by saying—set off many solar flares because one never knows what will work. One has to try many things, something will work and give us the wind we need—so an issue must seem worthwhile to begin with, it must have the emotional connect and there must be small measurable goals, to take things forward!
( Anand Halve, is the co-founder of Chlorophyll and a senior advertising professional. It was his idea to recognise 26th November as Sahakarya Kranti Diwas or the beginning of movement towards cooperation for positive change. This, he says, would truly honour the memory of Dr Verghese Kurien and what he has done for millions of Indian farmers.)
In Lok Sabha, the UPA government appears to be comfortably placed in the numbers game with promise of support from SP and BSP and DMK's open backing
New Delhi: An end to the logjam in Parliament over foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail appeared in sight on Wednesday with the government giving enough hints that it has no problem over a vote on the issue, reports PTI.
In an effort to break the impasse, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, along with his deputy Rajiv Shukla, held a meeting with Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley.
"Presiding officers can take any decision they want in the interest of running Parliament," Nath said after the meeting.
Insisting that numbers were "not a worry" for the government, he said that the MPs are responsible enough to decide (in favour of the issue).
Replying to questions, he dismissed suggestions that the government has wasted four days of the Winter session to decide on the issue as it did not have the numbers.
"From day one I have said we have the numbers," he said to a question that the government was ready for a vote only after key ally DMK came on board.
Earlier, he also met the Lok Sabha Speaker and last evening the Rajya Sabha Chairperson.
The meeting with the Leaders of the Opposition saw BJP insisting on a discussion under a rule that entails voting alleging that the government had committed gross neglet of Parliament by not adhering to its commitment of consulting all stakeholders before taking a decision on FDI in multi-brand retail.
In such a situation, the only way the sense of the House could be gauged was through voting, Swaraj told reporters after the hour-long meeting.
Her contention was that even if such vote went against, it would not lead to the fall of the government but would only show the view of Parliament on the FDI issue.
"The government will not fall. Only FDI (decision) will have to go. If majority of members are against the decision then the government should abide by it," Swaraj said.
As against this, Nath argued that the all-party meeting held on Monday showed that larger numbers favoured a discussion without voting. The meeting also saw most of the parties wanting Parliament to run and "we want Parliament to run".
Nath said the government "cannot accept (discussion under Rule) 184. We have left it to the presiding officers to decide. Let them take any decision they want in the interest of running the House".
Asked if the government was ready for voting on FDI as the opposition is firm on its stand, Nath said, "We are not averse to it."
To a query whether the government was setting a bad precedent by having a voting on an executive decision, the minister said, "There are many precedents. A House behaving like this was also not there. Rules are very clear. We are not worried. Government is confident of the steps... of our policies."
Besides BJP, the Left parties, BJD, AIADMK, TDP have been demanding that the discussion on FDI should be followed by voting.
While in Lok Sabha, the government appears to be comfortably placed in the numbers game with promise of support from SP and BSP and DMK's open backing. Trinamool Congress with 19 MPs has also been cold towards Opposition demands for a vote on the issue.
In the Lower House, at present the UPA enjoys the support of about 265 MPs in Lok Sabha of 545. With the support of Samajwadi Party (22) and BSP (21), the backing for the ruling coalition goes a little over 300, which is comfortable over the required 273.
However in Rajya Sabha, where the UPA coalition does not have the numbers on its own, it may have problems in case of a vote.
In a House with an effective strength of 244, the UPA and its allies have a strength of about 94 members. There are ten nominated members who may vote with the government. Among the seven Independents, three or four may go with the government.
Still the ruling coalition may have to persuade outside supporters BSP (15) and SP (9) to positively vote with the government to avoid any last-minutes hitches.