Attaching numbers to people, digitizing their data, and storing these in databases is the modern IT way of branding people, so that those who ‘misbehave’ could be tracked and tackled. This is the first part of a nine-part series on the unique identification number scheme and its possible misuse by politicians, bureaucrats and foreign contractors
Intolerance of criticism or politicians’ fear of loss of office results in their need to control people. They imagine, with some justification, that IT would enable them to do so. With advances in technologies, such as biometrics, they like to, and are led to believe that it is possible to control people using these technology tools. Thus, a popular misconception is that fingerprints and other biometrics would uniquely identify a person. This is far from true.
“The Economist” of 1 October 2010, said, "THANKS to gangster movies, cop shows and spy thrillers, people have come to think of fingerprints and other biometric means of identifying evildoers as being completely foolproof. In reality, they are not and never have been, and few engineers who design such screening tools have ever claimed them to be so. Yet the myth has persisted among the public at large and officialdom in particular. In the process, it has led— especially since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001—to a great deal of public money being squandered and worse, to the fostering of a sense of security that is largely misplaced.”
It is difficult to manipulate people. Numbers are easily manipulated. IT facilitates number crunching. Hence, the logic of systems intended to manipulate people, so that they adhere to certain behaviours acceptable to rulers (politicians, bureaucrats and some business persons), is to attach numbers to people. In the ancient world, the Romans and others branded slaves. Attaching numbers to people, digitizing their data, and storing these in databases is the modern IT way of branding people, so that those who ‘misbehave’ could be tracked and tackled.
Such attempts are packaged as meant for other purposes. For example, Bush in the US passed the “Real ID Act, 2005” to incorporate biometrics in driving licenses. Blair, in UK, brought the “National ID Card Act” also in 2005. These were promoted as ways to control illegal immigration. Bush’s Act has been given a quiet burial and Blair’s scrapped.
In scrapping the Blair Act, home secretary, Theresa May, called it, “The worst of government, intrusive bullying, and an assault on personal liberties.” She added, “We propose to do government business as servants of the people, not their masters”.
Our politicians seem to think that they are rulers. They have come out with the Indian version of their people-manipulation tool. It is called ‘UID’, Unique Identification. Shedding crocodile tears, they say that it is for giving an ID to those who do not have an ID. The deceit is immediately exposed, in the UID enrolment form itself.
The Form accepts 14 other identities, like ration cards, driving licenses, PAN cards, etc. Is it not silly that no one calls this bluff? The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) claims that the ID it provides is, “a unique identification number that can be verified and authenticated in an online, cost-effective manner, which is robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities.”
Giving IDs or taking them?
The UIDAI is not providing anyone, let alone those who do not have it, an identity, but it is giving each one of us a “UNIQUE IDENTIFICATION NUMBER”. Instead of giving us IDs, it is taking our existing Ids—passports, driving licenses, PAN cards, ration cards, etc—linking these to a number and giving each of us a NUMBER. We, the people, cannot identify ourselves or prove our ID to anyone. To prove one’s ID, the database has to be queried. The database is controlled by the UIDAI and its foreign contractors carry out the authentication of the ID. Hence, UIDAI and its foreign contractors control our ID.
This is why Prof Ian Angell, head of Informatics at the London School of Economics, called such central databases under government control, “The Ultimate Identity Theft”, in an article to “Times Online”. So, everyone is numbered, like the branding of Roman slaves. This subterfuge is lost on almost all people. Most people labour under the misconception that they would have a “portable ID”, which they could use to prove who they are - a convenient personal asset.
Every ID we have, be it a driving license, PAN card or passport are all ‘Portable’. Anywhere in India, these are accepted as proof of our ID. Our passports are accepted across the world. UIDAI's claim that ration cards are portable IDs and that those holding these UID number-linked ration cards could draw their rations anywhere is a lie. Even cash transfers, instead of rations, would not be possible when the ration card holder moves from one ration shop and state to which he/she is attached to another location.
To repeat what was said above, for clarity and emphasis; people are not given an ID, but a number. The number is in a database. To establish one’s ID, the database has to be queried. Who controls the database? Obviously, it is not you. It is the government, meaning some politician, bureaucrat or company official who manages the database. In this case, the ultimate control rests with the foreign private company contractor of UIDAI who provides the biometric technology and authenticates IDs using it.
A brand name for branding people
The second deceit in the UID scheme is its promotion as a tool that would prevent welfare subsidy leakages, enable access to government services and make service delivery efficient. To promote this falsehood, UIDAI has given the UID scheme a brand name, ‘Aadhaar’. The brand name is deliberately not used even once in this article. Would it not be stupid of people to promote the brand name of an evil scheme intended to manipulate them? It is mentioned here to bring out the extent of deception being perpetrated on innocent people. Again, most people are taken in by such gimmicks.
The database of all people, residing in India, with a unique number allocated to each person, is to be linked to their bank accounts, tax numbers, LPG consumer numbers, ration cards, insurance, health records, pension records and so forth. This is database state control at its worst. It reminds one of the ID cards for Indian indentured labour in apartheid South Africa and the list of Jews in Hitler’s Germany.
The deceitful way in which the UID is promoted is diabolical. UIDAI claims that it is voluntary. Simultaneously, the UIDAI says, “Service-providers could ask for it”. Next, news is put out regularly in media, stating that the UID is being ‘linked’ to LPG, MGNREGS, KYC of banks, and so on. The gullible and the timid, not wanting to be left out of government's largesse rush to enrol in UID.
Finding allies for tall claims
Tall claims of huge savings in subsidy leakages are made through the media. Initially, the UIDAI made these claims. Now it has allies doing it for the Authority. NIPFP in a recent “research study” claimed savings of Rs1.10 lakh crore in subsidy leakages by 2018. A safe bet indeed. Who would remember this, six years from now? It is astounding how a hitherto reputed organisation has fallen for this ploy and sought to justify it with some arithmetic. The so called research is based on government data and the UIDAI's claims.
The NIPFP research avoids mentioning how the UID would be applied in the field to any of these schemes. News had been leaked that "proof of concept" (PoC) studies for LPG and BPL rations were being done. On the LPG PoC, RTI queries receive responses stating that the studies are incomplete, but some news reports hint that the studies are successful. The UID is perhaps, the only project in the world in which PoC studies are undertaken well after the project is underway.
While the UIDAI claims to be transparent and media extols the virtue, RTI replies prove attempts to hide information. To illustrate, in Appendix 1 to this Monograph, are RTI applications seeking copies of UIDAI's contracts with foreign companies and their replies. The UIDAI has refused to provide copies of the contracts. In a first reply, the UIDAI said that it has signed “Non-disclosure agreements” with the contractors. In another reply, the UIDAI cited Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act, which says that information such as trade secrets, or intellectual property, which would compromise the competitive position of third parties need not be disclosed, unless it is in public interest to do so.
It was pointed out that since the contracts have already been awarded and the competitive position of the contractor companies would not be compromised. Further, the proviso to the exception under Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act, states that information that cannot be denied to Parliament or a state legislature cannot be denied to the public.
In spite of quoting the above proviso in the appeal against refusal, the UIDAI appellate authority has upheld the PIO’s refusal to furnish the information. The RTI applicant has appealed to the CIC. The First appeal also stated that since the expenditure for the contract payments are from the public exchequer, the public is entitled to know the terms of the contract. This too did not impress the UIDAI’s appellate authority.
What has the UIDAI got to hide in these contracts? Everything. These contracts would reveal all. This leads to the question posed on the front cover. Very, very few people know or realize that to be identified as an Indian, a foreign, private company would have to verify and certify that the biometric images stored in their database matches that of the person being identified. Could anything be more insulting to us? The danger to our nation’s security posed by such database control in the hands of foreign private companies is the subject of another article in the monograph.
(Col (Retd.) Mathew Thomas is a former defence services officer and missile scientist turned civic activist, campaigning against state database control of the people.)
We had said on Thursday that while the decline may be temporary, the gains would also be short. The market indices are following this script
The domestic market settled with a minor loss a day ahead of the Reserve Bank of India’s mid-quarter policy review. While the decline may be temporary, the gains would also be short. The market is currently range-bound. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) witnessed a lower volume of 65.91 crore shares and advance-decline ratio of 931:776.
The Indian market opened flat with a negative bias as investors were cautious ahead of the RBI’s monetary policy review, due on Tuesday. While a majority feel that the central bank is likely to maintain a status quo, some analysts opine that the Reserve Bank of India might cut the cash reserve ratio, in an attempt to boost growth. On the global front, markets in Asia were mixed in morning trade while the US markets closed lower on Friday on the delay over the budget deal.
The Nifty opened 19 points down at 5,861 and the Sensex resumed trade at 19,291, a fall of 26 points over its close on Friday. The market hit its intraday high in the first hour amid a high degree of volatility on the back of support from the IT and auto sectors. At the highs the Nifty went up to 5,886 and the Sensex rose to 19,347.
The benchmarks couldn’t maintain their early gains and began a southward journey a short while later. Selling was seen in technology, consumer durables and IT stocks.
In its Mid-Year Economic Analysis tabled in Parliament, the government today lowered the growth projection for the current financial year to 5.7%-5.9% from 7.6% estimated earlier, while pitching for supportive monetary and fiscal policies to improve investor confidence. Referring to inflation, it said, further moderation in price rise is likely to commence from the fourth quarter of the fiscal.
The market drifted further into the red in the second half of trade on a mixed opening of the key European indices. The indices fell to their lows in the last hour with the Nifty going down to 5.850 and the Sensex dropping to 19,222.
However, bargain hunting enabled the indices to close off the lows of the day. The Nifty settled 22 points (0.37%) down to 5,858 and the Sensex finished trade at 19,244, a cut of 73 points (0.38%).
While the Sensex ended in the negative, the broader indices outperformed the key benchmark. The BSE Mid-cap index gained 0.59% and the BSE Small-cap index rose 0.46%.
The top sectoral gainers were BSE Metal (up 1.76%); BSE Auto (up 0.67%); BSE Healthcare (up 0.43%); BSE Power (up 0.38%) and BSE PSU (up 0.36%). The main losers were BSE TECk (down 1.32%); BSE IT (down 1.22%); BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (down 0.52%); BSE Oil & Gas (down 0.50%) and BSE Capital Goods (down 0.43%).
Sixteen of the 30 stocks on the Sensex closed in the positive. The chief gainers were Sterlite Industries (up 4.06%); Hindalco Industries (up 3.46%); Jindal Steel & Power (up 2.36%); Maruti Suzuki (up 1.70%) and Tata Power (up 1.34%). The losers were led by Bharti Airtel (down 3.69%); TCS (down 2.83%); HDFC (down 1.85%); BHEL (down 1.76%) and HDFC Bank (down 1.60%0.
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone (up 5.34%) and Jain Irrigation Systems (up 5.28%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—IRB Infrastructure Developers (down 7.20%) and Bharti Airtel (down 3.69%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—Energy Development Company (up 19.87%) and Polar Industries (up 19.81%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Taksheel Solutions (down 19.98%) and Becksons Industries (down 11.43%).
Out of the 50 stocks listed on the Nifty, 26 stocks settled in the positive. The major gainers were Hindalco Ind (up 3.42%); Sesa Goa (up 2.85%); Jindal Steel & Power (up 1.90%); Cipla (up 1.89%) and Grasim Industries (up 1.64%). The key losers were Bharti Airtel (down 3.68%); TCS (down 2.98%); BPCL (down 1.84%); Siemens (down 1.73%) and BHEL (down 1.65%).
Markets across Asia settled mostly down as profit booking set in after the recent gains. Traders were also worried about the deadlock as the third meeting between US president Barack Obama and Republican House speaker, John Boehner, failed to come up with a solution to the US budget.
The Hang Seng fell 0.41%; the KLSE Composite fell 0.21%; the Straits Times was down 0.31%; the Seoul Composite declined 0.60% and the Taiwan Weighted dropped 0.88%. On the other hand, the Shanghai Composite gained 0.45%; the Jakarta Composite rose 0.16% and the Nikkei 225 climbed 0.945.
At the time of writing, the three key European indices were in the negative and the US stock futures were mixed with a negative bias.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of shares totalling Rs574.38 crore on Friday while domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities aggregating Rs512.42 crore.
Suzlon Group subsidiary, REpower Systems SE, announced today it has concluded a contract with wpd Europe GmbH, a subsidiary of project developer wpd AG, for the delivery of 51 wind turbines. As part of this, a service and maintenance agreement (ISP) for a total of 15 years for the new projects was also concluded, the company said in a statement. Suzlon Energy gained 1.07% to settle at Rs18.85 on the NSE.
McNally Bharat Engineering today said it has bagged a contract worth Rs733 crore from cement major ACC for construction and installation of a cement plant. The contract involves onshore supply, civil construction and installation & erection of New Jamul Cement plant, McNally Bharat said in a filing to BSE. The stock climbed 2.68% to close at Rs99.45 on the NSE.
Pharma major Panacea Biotec today said it has received an order worth Rs187.61 crore from the government to supply 345 million doses of Trivalent Oral Polio Vaccines (tOPV) and Bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV) between December 2012 and May 2013 The stock jumped 8% to settle at Rs123.50 on the NSE.
Experts say the tight liquidity condition will continue for a while till the government starts spending, and this makes a case for lowering of CRR
New Delhi: Moderating inflation has raised hopes of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its mid-quarter review of monetary policy on Tuesday, but experts believe that it is more likely to cut the cash reserve ratio (CRR) for banks, reports PTI.
There has been some tightening on the liquidity front due to advance tax outgo. Following this, the banks’ borrowing from the RBI has gone up to Rs1.46 lakh crore today, from Rs64,445 crore on Friday.
Experts say the tight liquidity condition will continue for a while till the government starts spending, and this makes a case for lowering of CRR.
Indian Overseas Bank chairman and managing director M Narendra said, “...as on date since liquidity still has been slightly tight, I think there will be some more support to liquidity (through CRR cut).
“We will not be surprised if there will also be a symbolic repo rate cut now and a major cut in January also.”
SBI managing director Diwakar Gupta said RBI should consider cutting both repo rate and the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR). “As a banker I can always say that our wish-list is that rate should change, they should reduce. Both repo and CRR,” he said.
Repo is the rate at which RBI lends money to the banks. It stands at 8% at present, leading to a high interest rate regime—much blamed for slowing industrial growth. Cash reserve ratio (CRR) is the portion of deposits banks have to mandatorily park with RBI, which is 4.25% now.
“CRR has already been brought down significantly by the Reserve Bank, if they do a little more that will be great.
“Repo cut will actually bring down rate systematically in the system. So, deposits will be cheaper therefore people will lend cheaper. Overall, there will be a downward bias which has been required,” Mr Gupta said.
Inflation declined to 10-month low of 7.24% in November from 7.45% in the previous month, raising hopes that RBI may cut rates to spur growth.
At the same time, the economic growth in the first half of the fiscal fell to 5.4%, as against 7.3% in the year-ago period. The growth in 2011-12 had fallen to a nine-year low of 6.5%.
Asked about the likely RBI’s policy action, Chief Economic Adviser Raghuram Rajan said the role of the finance ministry or the government is to increase the real side growth. The RBI will look at the monetary side.
Industry leaders have been demanding a cut in interest rate for long to prop growth and investment.
As the inflation is at its 10-month low, it is time for the RBI to take measures to ensure that interest rates are reduced, irrespective of the tools it may choose to use, Assocham president Rajkumar N Dhoot said.
On concerns of sticky inflation, the RBI had left key policy rates unchanged in its last quarterly review of the monetary policy in October but hinted at easing monetary policy further in the January-March quarter.
“As inflation eases further, there will be an opportunity for the monetary policy to act in conjunction with fiscal and other measures to mitigate the growth risks and take the economy to a sustained higher growth trajectory,” RBI governor D Subbarao had said in the October policy review.
However, investment bank Goldman Sachs expects the RBI to cut its key interest rate by 0.25% in its policy review following moderation in inflation.
“With both growth and inflation surprising on the downside relative to the RBI's forecast, there is a reason for the central bank to move earlier than its previous guidance,” it said.
Union Bank of India chairman and managing director D Sarkar said, “I expect that there should be some reduction in policy rates. It will boost up the sentiment and economic sentiment.
“There is expectation that the repo rate or CRR could come down by about 25 basis points,” he said.
Rajesh Iyer, head-products and research, Kotak Wealth Management said, “We continue to expect no change in the Repo rate by the RBI in the December policy, with the first cut of 25bps likely to come on the next policy date of 29th January. However, given the liquidity condition, the RBI could provide another 25 bps easing in the CRR that would infuse around Rs17,500 crore of liquidity into the banking system.”