CIA-funded MongoDB partners with UIDAI to handle Aadhaar data –Part 13

MongoDB will take data from UIDAI to undertake analysis. UIDAI is tight-lipped about CIA's role in it. It is yet to become clear whether MongoDB will be in a vendor relationship directly or will operate through some pre-existing entity that is already working with UIDAI as system integrator 

‘Reimagining India’, a book edited by McKinsey & Company, published by Simon & Schuster in November 2013, Mukesh Ambani has written a chapter titled ‘Making the Next Leap’ endorsing biometric profiling based identification. Ambani writes, “Aadhaar, an initiative of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), will soon support the world’s largest online platform to deliver government welfare services directly to the poor.” It appears to be a book of the millionaires and billionaires, by the millionaires and billionaires and for the millionaires and billionaires.

This reminds one of the lyrics of a song titled ‘If I were a rich man’, which is from the famous musical ‘Fiddler on the roof’ of the 1970s, which noted “When you're rich, they think you really know!” The song goes like: 

If I were a biddy biddy rich, Yidle-diddle-didle-didle man.

The most important men in town would come to fawn on me!

They would ask me to advise them,

Like a Solomon the Wise.

And it won't make one bit of difference if i answer right or wrong.

When you're rich, they think you really know!


In his chapter Ambani adds, “The most exciting prospect of all is the impetus that could come from tapping the surging aspirations of the seven to eight hundred million Indians who remain excluded from India’s success story. If we manage to bring this segment of the population into the economic mainstream, the result will be enormous enhancement in India’s economic and non-economic power, as we generate equality in access despite inequality in income.” According to Forbes magazine, Ambani is listed as the 22nd richest person in the world with a personal wealth of $21.5 billion. He has retained his position as the India's richest person for the sixth year in a row.


Ambani says, “When I reflect on India’s phenomenal success over the past two decades and consider what will be required for similar advances in decades to come, I often think back on what India was like in 1980, when I returned to Mumbai from Stanford University”.

The book introduces Ambani as the “Chairman and CEO of Reliance Industries, India’s largest private sector company. He is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry, a member of the board of governors of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, and chairman of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. Ambani has a degree in chemical engineering from the Mumbai University Indian Institute of Chemical Technology and an MBA from Stanford University.” The book commits a mistake in stating that Ambani has a MBA degree from Stanford University because he admittedly dropped out and did not complete his MBA course.

The book has a chapter on India by Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google and co-author of “The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Futures of People, Nations and Business” wherein he says, “The government’s Unique Identification project, led by my friend Nandan Nilekani, is creating enormous new possibilities for e-commerce.” What he leaves unsaid is that Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar project entails marriage of digital technologies with unaccountable and ungovernable biometric and surveillance technologies which is illegitimate and illegal.     

Nilekani also has a chapter titled “A technology solution for India’s identity crisis” in the book wherein he says, “The Indian government spends about $60 billion a year on subsidy programs involving products such as food, fertiliser, and petroleum...But studies show that these programs often have leakages, thus leading to anomalies in benefits reaching the intended beneficiaries. India’s own Planning Commission found in 2008 that more than one-third of subsidised grain supposedly destined for the poor went to better-off households instead, due in large part to fraud and corruption. Errors in delivery and identification resulted in even greater losses of subsidised grain…Aadhaar can this revolutionalise the way public services are delivered as well as dramatically enhance the inclusiveness of Indian society.” He is more concerned about leakage of food grains than leakage of financial and mineral resources which has led to accumulation of black money in foreign countries. His silence on this issue exposes him. He is ignorant about the fact that leakage is not an identification problem but a problem of eligibility wherein those who are ineligible access subsidies. Such pilferage can be dealt with without subjugating Indians to social control technology companies.

Nilekani concludes saying, identification “Technology can be a great leveler of Indian society”. He seems to echo what Ambani says about generating “equality in access despite inequality in income” by claiming technology to be class neutral and income neutral because structurally it is supposed to be a ‘leveler’. Is inequality in income a natural phenomenon? The authors of this book imply it to be so. 

Meanwhile, according to a report from Economic Times and Navbharat Times, Max Schireson, CEO of MongoDB (formerly called 10gen), a technology company from US which is co-funded by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was in New Delhi two weeks back to enter into a contract with UIDAI. This company is a Palo Alto and Manhattan-based database software provider in the $30 billion relational database market. Relational databases commenced in the 1970s when computers were moving away from punch cards (that facilitated holocaust in Germany using census data) to terminals. It is taking away customers from Oracle and IBM. This contract has not been disclosed so far. MongoDB will take data from UIDAI to undertake its analysis. UIDAI is tight-lipped about CIA’s role in it. This company’s database software is already being used to verify the speed of registration. It is yet to become clear whether this company will be in a vendor relationship directly, or it will operate through some pre-existing entity which is already working with UIDAI as system integrator.

10gen is the company behind MongoDB, a popular open-source, document-oriented database. It forms a part of a new generation of NoSQL -- Not Only SQL -- database products developed as an alternative to conventional relational databases from Oracle, IBM and Microsoft. Elsewhere, Schireson explained, “We deliver enterprises a 10 to 1 improvement — we charge tens of thousands of dollars to complete projects in a few months that they charge millions of dollars to finish in years” to deal with large volume and diverse variety of big data.

According to the report, one of the investors of MongoDB is In-Q-Tel (IQT), a not-for-profit organisation based in Virginia, USA created to bridge the gap between the technology needs of the US Intelligence Community and emerging commercial innovation. It identifies and invests in venture-backed startups developing technologies that provide “ready-soon innovation” (within 36 months) which is vital for the mission of the intelligence community. IQT was launched in 1999. Its core purpose is to keep CIA and other intelligence agencies equipped with the latest in information technology to support intelligence capability. Edward Snowden had revealed that US intelligence agencies are targeting communications in Asian countries. It was founded by Norman Ralph Augustine.

In his book ‘At The Center Of The Storm: My Years at the CIA”, former CIA director George Tenet says, “We (the CIA) decided to use our limited dollars to leverage technology developed elsewhere. In 1999 we chartered ... In-Q-Tel. ... While we pay the bills, In-Q-Tel is independent of CIA. CIA identifies pressing problems, and In-Q-Tel provides the technology to address them. The In-Q-Tel alliance has put the Agency back at the leading edge of technology ... This ... collaboration ... enabled CIA to take advantage of the technology that Las Vegas uses to identify corrupt card players and apply it to link analysis for terrorists [cf. the parallel data-mining effort by the SOCOM-DIA operation Able Danger], and to adapt the technology that online booksellers use and convert it to scour millions of pages of documents looking for unexpected results.”

In-Q-Tel sold 5,636 shares of Google, worth over $2.2 million, on 15 November 2005. The stocks were a result of Google’s acquisition of Keyhole, the CIA funded satellite mapping software now known as Google Earth. On 15 August 2005, Washington Post reported that In-Q-Tel was funded with about $37 million a year from the CIA. "In my view the organisation has been far more successful than I dreamed it would be," said Norman R Augustine, who was recruited in 1998 by Krongard and George J Tenet, who then was director of central intelligence (DCI) to CIA, to help set up In-Q-Tel. Augustine, former chief executive of defense giant Lockheed Martin, is an In-Q-Tel trustee.

Notably, former CIA chief, Tenet, was on the board of L-1 Identity Solutions, a major supplier of biometric identification software, which was a US company when UIDAI signed a contract agreement with it. A truncated copy of the contract agreement accessed through RTI is available with the author. This company has now been bought over by Safran group, a French defence company. The subsidiary of this French company in which French government has 30.5% shares, Sagem Morpho has also signed a contract agreement with UIDAI. In August 2011, Safran acquired L-1 Identity Solutions.

In the backdrop of these disclosures, how credible are the poor-centric claims of Mukesh Ambani, Nilekeni and Eric Schmidt who are taking Indian legislators, officials, citizens and the Indian intelligence community for a royal ride. Clearly, aadhaar creates a platform for social control and surveillance technologies to have a field day and undermines nations’ sovereignty, security and citizens’ democratic rights. Nilekeni wrote ‘Imagining India’, McKinsey & Company edited ‘Reimagining India,’ it is evident that their idea of India is contrary to idea of India that emerged from the freedom struggle since 1857 and the constitution of India.

Freedom struggle witnessed both traitors who sided with companies and foreign governments   and loyalists who were ready to suffer any consequence to safeguard the interest of Indians. Can citizens of India trust Goolam E Vahanavati, Attorney General for India and Prime Minister of India when they submit their defence of indefensible aadhhar/UID in the Supreme Court, where it faces a legal challenge to take a step back and withdraw the project the way they withdrew their circular making aadhaar/UID mandatory in Chandigarh before the Punjab & Haryana High Court to save Indians from falling into a sophisticated intelligence trap?     

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

Aadhaar and UPA govt's obsession for private sector benefits–Part XII


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




3 years ago

Most high - end technologies were either sponsored by military,CIA and space industry in the US.
Including the internet....
In all these areas the sponsors are involved purely to get access to the latest technologies.
They actually dont run the organization.
Yes, we may need to study their involvement.

But what is it that you are implying ?


3 years ago

Most high - end technologies were either sponsored by military,CIA and space industry in the US.
Including the internet....
In all these areas the sponsors are involved purely to get access to the latest technologies.
They actually dont run the organization.
Yes, we may need to study their involvement.

But what is it that you are implying ?


3 years ago

I am afraid to say that author's fears might be misplaced here. Unless we have a copy of the agreement between MongoDB and UIDAI we can't say for sure. MongoDB is an open source product with commercial support (somewhat similar to what MySQL provides in the Relational Database space). Maybe the contract is just about support but not about analysing the data? Or it could be that the UIDAI has requirement related to BigData which warrant the use of MongoDB.

Merely the funding of CIA doesn't mean that the software will be used for evil purposes. US Navy funds for anonymous browser Tor. Tor is used by privacy activists across the globe. Even Edward Snowden relied on Tor. Bruce Schenier who has been quoted on this Magazine also uses and propogates the use of Tor. Although there have been unconfirmed reports of a backdoor in Tor, the people behind Tor project have denied it.

Mukesh kamath

3 years ago

Rabidly leftist--- I dont understand why the rich are deemed foxy and thieves with illgotten wealth. Ambani has refined petroleum for india since last two decades and recently producing gas. They ventured into telecom and increased penetration and served people. I dont understand why CIA is looked at as an enemy organization and not as a partner. The cold war mentality must be still alive.

RBI issues norms for banks to become insurance brokers

As per the draft guidelines, RBI would allow banks with good credentials to operate as insurance brokers and leverage their branch to increase the penetration of the insurance sector

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to permit banks to become insurance brokers in order develop the insurance sector in the country. RBI will allow banks to offer policies from different insurance companies to their customers apart from their own insurance subsidiaries’ policies.

RBI, in its draft guidelines, said, “In order to enable banks to leverage their branch network for increasing insurance penetration, it has been decided to permit banks to undertake insurance broking business departmentally, subject to the requirements, including the minimum eligibility criteria.”

However, banks must ensure transparency and disclose remuneration received from various insurance companies, the central bank said.

The draft guidelines states, “In order to ensure transparency, banks should disclose to the customers, details of remuneration (in any form) received from various insurance companies for the broking business. The details of fees/ brokerage received in respect of insurance broking business undertaken by them should also be disclosed.”

A bank which desires to become insurance broker have to take prior approval and fulfill minimum eligibility criteria with RBI. Its approval will be based on validity period for three years and subject to review thereafter.

“Insurance broking is a knowledge intensive activity which requires professional expertise so it will be permitted subject to the certain conditions,” said RBI in its press release.

RBI in its draft, on entry of banks into insurance broking business has setup following eligibility criteria as per published accounts as on 31st March of the previous year,

  • The networth of the bank should not be less than Rs500 crore
  • The capital to risk-weighted assets ratio (CRAR) of the bank should not be less than 10%
  • The level of net non-performing assets should not be more than 3%
  • The bank should have made profits for the last three consecutive years
  • The track record of the performance of the subsidiaries or joint ventures, if any, of the bank should be satisfactory

However, according to RBI draft, bank which offers insurance broking services shall not enter into any arrangement for corporate agency or insurance referral business to avoid any conflict of interest.

RBI has invited feedback from the stakeholders on the draft norms and given time period till 31st December 2013.

Earlier, finance minister, P Chindambaram in the budget speech of February 2014 said that, banks will be permitted to act as insurance brokers. Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) already allowed banks to act as brokers and sell products of more than one insurer to increase the penetration of the insurance sector across the country.


Sensex, Nifty marginally up: Monday closing report

Nifty and Sensex opened marginally up on positive cues like better GDP data, improved PMI figures in Europe and China and end to the sugar industry impasse

On Friday, we expected the stock markets to open the week higher. On Monday the markets opened slightly in the red but moved up immediately and stayed in the green throughout the trading session. The market reacted to overall positive cues such as ‘improved’ GDP data released on Friday, improved HSBC PMI Index (though we have written that this indicator is faulty and dangerous), higher expectations of sugar output as the impasse ended, stronger rupee and improved economic data from Europe and China. Even the news that Black Friday shopping was weaker than expected filtered into the market. In the aftermath of the Thanksgiving weekend, the Black Friday and ongoing Cyber Monday deals in America (do check out our exclusive Cover Story on online shopping for dos and don’ts), a survey found that many consumers had made plans to restrict spending this year. This means this Black Friday may be worse than last year.


The BSE Sensex opened at 20,771, hit an intra-day low of 20,770 and then immediately went up to the green, where it stayed throughout the rest of the session. It hit an intra-day high of 20,941 before closing at 20,898 (up 106.08 points or 0.51%). Similarly, Nifty opened slightly lower at 6171.15 (which is also its intra-day low), the rallied to hit an intra-day high of 6,228 before closing at 6,217 (up 41 points, or 0.68%).


The indices moved up on volumes of 53.94 lakh shares.


All stock markets indices finished in the green except for CNX Energy and CNX PSE, which were slightly down by 0.22% and 0.23% respectively. CNX Pharmaceuticals finished up strongly, up 2.04%.


Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 35 advanced and 15 declined. The top gainers were Ranbaxy (6.20%); Jindal Steel (4.88%); Sun Pharmaceuticals (4.24%); HCL Technologies (4.01%) and Wipro (2.71%). The top losers were Hindustan Unilever (-1.92%); Power Grid (-1.52%); Gail (-1.37%); ONGC (-1.30%); Maruti (-0.96%).

Of the 1,468 shares on the NSE, 872 closed in the positive, 501 closed in the negative while 95 remained unchanged.

According to RBI, state oil firms now are sourcing all dollars from market, and can do so beyond their normal daily needs. The Indian rupee is near its two-week high as economic worries ease, with the rupee touching Rs61.9650 per dollar, its highest since November 19.


According to reports, the sugar impasse has ended, with private mills agreeing to pay $280 per quintal for cane. It is estimated that 25 million tonnes of sugar will be produced this year, compared with its annual sugar consumption of around 23 million tonnes.


According to Reuters, the HSBC survey showed Indian manufacturing returned to growth last month as a strong rise in orders pushed factories to step up production. However, we caution readers that this has been proved to be a faulty indicator in which market takes for granted. The CPI for industrial workers rose 11.06% in October.


Asian stock markets were trading mostly flat. China PMI data was found to be weaker than expected. According to Reuters, The final PMI reading came in at 50.8 in November, down from 50.9 in October. Shanghai’s composite index was down 0.61%. Tokyo’s Nikkei was flat while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.66%.


The Euro region some key numbers released during noon today, but stock markets were unimpressed. Italy November manufacturing PMI was seen at 51.4 compared to 50.7 in October 2012. Similarly, France November manufacturing PMI was seen at 48.4 this year vs 49.1 in October, and Germany November manufacturing PMI were seen at 52.7 vs 51.7 in October. At time of writing this piece, all European stock markets were trending down, except Germany’s DAX which was seen trending flat.


In the aftermath of the Black Friday (which saw some fights and casualties) and ongoing Cyber Monday deals in America, a survey found that many consumers had made plans to restrict spending this year. This means this Black Friday may be worse than last year. According to National Retail Federation, shoppers spent $407.02, on average, from Thursday through Sunday (planned), down from $423.55 last year. Total spending is estimated to reach $57.4 billion. US stock markets futures were seen rising during early trade, except S&P was flat, with a slight down trend.


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