Citizens' Issues
Workers will now be tagged with a biometric database. Don’t say we did not warn you

The government is planning a biometric database to authenticate work applications, work-site attendance and wage payments. After the Aadhaar implementation, Big Brother will not just be watching you; every move you make will be recorded and registered

We at Moneylife have been repeatedly pointing out that the Aadhaar (or UID) project that the government is rolling out across the country will be nothing but an intrusion into the privacy of citizens—be it the middle-class, the well-off or the masses.

Today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the nation that the government proposes to create a biometric database of all workers covered under its flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme and "use it to authenticate work applications, work-site attendance and wage payments."

He was making the announcement at a function held in New Delhi to mark five years of the launch of MNREGA. Mr Singh said, "We hope it will substantially reduce instances of discrimination in work allocation, delayed payments and bogus muster rolls."

We do wish this scheme to be a success. But if the monitoring of the database is tardy, or worse, if it is used to exploit our illiterate workforce, the consequences will be disastrous. To say the least.

Coming back to Aadhaar, the number of articles that we have carried on the UID project are too numerous to be detailed here. But we have been roundly condemned by a number of our citizens, who feel that the Aadhaar project is a great initiative from the Centre.

For example, consider the latest article that we had carried on the UID project: (How Aadhaar, or the UID project, can get you into deep trouble).

As the article pointed out, "Aadhaar, with its biometrics and the ability to facilitate convergence of information—bona fide or otherwise—has the potential to compromise privacy and put people in trouble."

Here's what a 'concerned' citizen (his handle is 'Chowdhury') had to say on the above article (this is just a part of the comment, reproduced verbatim, and not corrected for grammar): "Please let India towards a progressive and futuristic society, a step ahead of USA, China etc. Otherwise we are to stay back-same old India, nothing pioneering... Let India show others an example of e-Governance."

Well, India is showing us today an example of what sorry pass e-governance can bring us to, if not properly utilised. If you read between the lines, it is obvious that this so-called database announced today by the government will just be a way to keep tabs on workers.

And must we add, Aadhaar is a step in the wrong direction? Do you really want every move of yours to be recorded, registered and probably misused? Don't say we did not warn you.

We at Moneylife look forward to your comments.  

User

COMMENTS

satyashodhak

7 years ago

It is time to have such data with administrators to control workers. But, what about administrators? who gonna control them?

Where Money is God, Capitalism is the sect for everyone. Don't you think, it could generate the smartest and most hideous central power in future.

Progress should not be hindrance in PROGRESS.

som

7 years ago

The vast computer databases kept by government departments can be passed on to covert agencies and corporate entities. Many know that DNA databases, retina scans, handprint scans and such are becoming more commonplace. However, few know of the more advanced technologies used to monitor them RIGHT NOW!

The World's Concerns Microchip Implants, Mind Control, and Cybernetics
http://www.truedemocracy.net/td-19/23.ht...
-By Rauni-Leena Luukanen-Kilde, MD Former Chief Medical Officer of Finland December 6, 2000

Are we ready for the robotization of mankind and the total elimination of privacy, including freedom of thought? How many of us would want to cede our entire life, including our most secret thoughts, to Big Brother? Yet the technology exists to create a totalitarian New World Order. Covert neurological communication systems are in place to counteract independent thinking and to control social and political activity on behalf of self-serving private and military interests.

When our brain functions are already connected to supercomputers by means of radio implants and microchips, it will be too late for protest. This threat can be defeated only by educating the public, using available literature on biotelemetry and information exchanged at international congresses……………

…………Time is running out for changing the direction of military medicine, and ensuring the future of human freedom…………..

This article was originally published in the 36th-year edition of the Finnish-language journal SPEKULA (3rd Quarter, 1999). SPEKULA (circulation 6500) is a publication of Northern Finland medical students and doctors of Oulu University OLK (Oulun Laaketieteellinen Kilta). It is mailed to all medical students of Finland and all Northern Finland medical doctors.

RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chips are Comming
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlFi0GfrV...
Here are a pair of patents which you can google yourself:Patent#20020165758: IBM – IDENTIFICATION AND TRACKING OF PERSONS
USING RFID-TAGGED ITEMS.
Patent#6659344: NCR – AUTOMATED MONITORING OF ACTIVITY OF SHOPPERS IN A MARKET.
I am sure you will be fully convinved that these are threat to National security and sovereignity. I request you to go through this article to understand the full scope of this UID Concept which is being imposed on us. Its official Invasion of Our Fundamental Right Right to Privacy by Multinational Giant Corporations.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?c...
Big Brother: Spying on Americans, The Threat of Satellite Surveillance
by John Flemming

http://www.freedomfchs.com/repjimguestlt...

http://www.whale.to/b/nsa7.html
Covert Operations of the U.S. National Security Agency
A lawsuit filed against the U.S. National Security Agency reveals a frightening array of technologies and programs designed to keep tabs on individuals.
From an article in Nexus Magazine April/May 96
John St Clair Akwei
vs
National Security Agency
Ft George G. Meade, MD, USA
(Civil Action 92-0449)
The following document comprises evidence for a lawsuit filed at the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, DC, by John St Clair Akwei against the National Security Agency, Ft George G. Meade, Maryland (Civil Action 92-0449), constitutes his knowledge of the NSA’s structure, national security activities proprietary technologies and covert operations to monitor individual citizens Ed.

MIND CONTROL TECHNOLOGY EXPOSED
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/36936010/MIN...

Outside the Box #98 (Featuring Dr. Robert Duncan)
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=...
Alex talks with Dr. Robert Duncan, an expert on mind control technology and artificial intelligence. Later, Alex discusses the recent shooting at Virginia Tech.
http://www.surveillanceissues.com/articl...

Brits

7 years ago

UK Immigration Officer Puts Wife on the No-Fly List (http://www.cnbc.com/id/41372870)
A UK immigration officer decided to get rid of his wife by putting her on the no-fly list, ensuring that she could not return to the UK from abroad. This worked for three years, until he put in for a promotion and -- during the routine background check -- someone investigated why his wife was on the no-fly list.
Okay, so he's an idiot. And a bastard. But the real piece of news here is how easy it is for a UK immigration officer to put someone on the no-fly list with absolutely no evidence that that person belongs there. And how little auditing is done on that list. Once someone is on, they're on for good.
That's simply no way to run a free country.
Will it be same for India as well after the UID?

REPLY

Samir

In Reply to Brits 7 years ago

Indeed, this example shows what dangers projects such as UID can cause --- when absolutely no feasibility study is done. The question is : when this UID project is stopped, who will pay the price ? What happens to the thousands of crores of tax payers' money that has gone down the drain? Btw, it has already been proved that fingeprints can be faked and the videos of showing that are all over the net. The UIDAI of course is silent on it.

R

7 years ago

I agree with ML to some extent and it will have some negative aspects. But over a decade or 2, it can be used to track black money, criminals, politicians also. Just like knife aadhar has pros and cons. I feel it is desirable.

REPLY

Ram

In Reply to R 7 years ago

"But over a decade or 2, it can be used to track black money, criminals, politicians also."

Aadhaar is not compulsory for this very reason dont you see. It was made optional to allow criminals and corrupt people to continue their merry ways.

A decade or two you say and I say not in a 100 years. All over the world only convicted criminals get finger printed. In India every one except the criminals will get finger printed as if we were all sheep meant to be slaughtered

Sujit

In Reply to R 7 years ago

@R, I agree everything has its pros & cons...here you need to look what weighs more...but ML seems to be looking only at negatives of it...hope they come out with some positves of UID as well...lets see.

Shankar Kottur

7 years ago

I have been reading about Aadhaar from the time of its inception. It is an identity solution to all residing in India. What you suggest can only be true if all the agencies come under one roof and start tracking everyone. It can happen with some national security situations, other than that for rest of the people who wants to use Aadhaar, it only provides identity by answering that the said person is himself. So the kind of misuse you are suggesting is not bound to happen. Please stop spreading wrong information. For anything it is needed to measure the pros and cons and do things. Aadhar addresses many constructive things for our society.

REPLY

Sarma

In Reply to Shankar Kottur 7 years ago

Stop living in fool's paradise. Ask Nandan Nilekani, Dr MMS, Sonia Gandhi why they still havenot got an UID number for themselves yet? It at all its so good, why UIDAI is not issuing UIDN to all politicians... at least it will plug the black 'hole' money.

Sujit

In Reply to Sarma 7 years ago

Sarma, what makes you say that the Nandan & MMS won't be having UIDs...i don't remember anything of this type anywhere...and i don't think they are disclosing names of all the people who are issued with UIDs. Don't you think Nandan & MMS have PAN numbers...if they can have that they will have this as well...atleast let the process be completed...why being obstacle in something good thats being created?

Sarma

In Reply to Sujit 7 years ago

My reply is again the same dear. Stop living in fool's paradise. Just because Cognizant can have some contract from UIDAI does not make to you to advocate UIDN. And my point is, we are not asking the elites to disclose their UIDN but want them to be seen by all registering for it. Lets have all channels there for to spread the so called good..good UIDN through the PM, Sonia and Nandan himself. BTW...do you know what the people who have been issued UIDN in Tembhali have been upto? Have they receiving any benefit from it? Open your eyes.. dont sacrifice your own interest for your organisations commercial interest.

Sujit

7 years ago

I have kind of started loosing faith in Moneylife....they are sounding too negative to me nowadays.

REPLY

mohan

In Reply to Sujit 7 years ago

amazing... you come to moneylife to read about uid to lose faith in the magazine. Do you invest? Do you save? if not ....

Watch TIMES NOW!! will give you a boost of positivity!

Sujit

In Reply to mohan 7 years ago

Mohan, read my comment properly so that you will be in a better position to give a relevant reply to it...all the best for your second read and hoping for a maturity from yoru side buddy.

Sailsq

7 years ago

why don't people understand that uid is just an authentication mechanism, it just says x is x and not y. It will avoid leackage in govt. benefits and ensure that it reaches to the right person. Its also useful to avoid infiltration to the country. Also another point, although uid will be used by many organizations, however each organization have their data privacy rules and they don't share it with anybody. You try asking somebody's information to a bank and you will know. Again, uid is just for authentication and not for storing personal data.

REPLY

Ram

In Reply to Sailsq 7 years ago

Aadhaar stopping leakages in the supply chain in PDS is a Myth. Remember only about 20% of PDS grains reach the poor. Aadhaar might eliminate say 5%( double dippers with multiple ration cards) of the 20% which is the last mile that would amount to 0.01%.. Is this wort an expenditure of Nine Billion dollars of Tax payers money? I am afraid Not

NREGS is plagued by Ghost employees, family and friends of Govt servants who get paid sitting at home and not doing a days work. Now Aadhaar will be issued to all these ghost employees and authenticated by their Aadhaar biometrics and money deposited straight into their bank accounts, enabling ghost employees to earn NREGS money in perpetuity..

You don't expect a billionaire CEO of an IT company to understand such ground realities.

Nandan

In Reply to Sailsq 7 years ago

They say ignorance is a bliss. However for someone from Switzerland and working for UBS, it sounds like commercial interests. So, Salisq...stop being uninformed. If there is problem in leakage you need to plug the hole not create something unrelated to the leakage.
You are talking about infilteration? Wow...gr8, for your kind information.. the UID number would be provided to all 'RESIDENTS' of India and not CITIZENS. This means, anyone who is staying here for a while would be able to procure on UID number and can us it cement his citizenship. In addition, all over the world, data privacy rules are going for a toss. read http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/11136...
http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/11862...
http://www.moneylife.in/article/78/11185...

Ram

In Reply to Nandan 7 years ago

A Nandan you wrote "If there is problem in leakage you need to plug the hole"

Now that is a simple solution to a Complex problem. Aadhaar is a Complex solution for a simple problem of corruption in the supply chain requiring an expenditure of US $ ( Billion. All that needs to be done is arrest a few crooked Babus in the supply chain and put them behind bars and the rest will get straightened out automatically.

No Sir UIDAIs solution to fix leaks ( say in a roof) is to hire American consultants paying mega bucks whose solution would be to suspend an umbrella over the leak from a helicopter...( I am sorry I could not resist this idea of holding an umbrella over a leaky roof :-).

alpa

7 years ago

you say that aadhar shall be an intrusion
do you suggest a better alternative?
you can look into the advantages also
it is better to have a database then none at all

REPLY

Samir

In Reply to alpa 7 years ago

Better alternative --- go after the big crooks, not the small fries. Tag all ministers and their henchmen to begin with. Make governance transparent. Heck, make UIDAI transparent in the first place.

mohan ram

In Reply to Samir 7 years ago

good point. Lets see everybody from Nandan Nilekani downwards connected with UIDAI get finger printed, tagged and flash their barcodes -- in a group photo. (at the ministry). Let the PM, Sonia Gandhi and others be next... get a UIDAI and show it to us first.
Once we know that you have faith in the UIDAI database keeping details and records of all MPs safe, I am willing to take a chance that my privacy will be protected too!

Ram

In Reply to mohan ram 7 years ago

Aadhaar should be issued to all Public servants especially IAS officers. Will UIDAI do this with IAS Officer Sharma as second in charge to NN?
I think not

The Nordlake, Sea Eagle and Vindhyagiri fiasco: An accident waiting to happen, but we will continue shipping in troubled waters

Why are shipping accidents happening with alarming frequency around Mumbai? Here’s a lowdown from the deck, at close quarters

""But I don't want to go among mad people," said Alice. "Oh, you can't help that," said the cat. "We're all mad here."" (Lewis Carroll)

This would have been funny in the context of ships colliding like so many bumpy cars at a fun fair, if it had not been for the fact that one of them was an Indian Navy warship with families onboard, and of all things on a day when the headman of the Royal British Navy was also in town visiting. But, as an ex-seafarer, this is about as close as it gets to the truth vis-à-vis the macabre state of affairs with matters maritime, in and around Mumbai lately.

The actual and real truth on what really happened off Sunk Rock, outside Mumbai Harbour, will probably never come out. The ships and those connected will not be the only casualties, since truth already has taken the leading role there, and obfuscation shall certainly follow suit. Certainly, there shall be enquiries, and in all likelihood licences and certificates of competency will be suspended as far as the merchant ships Nordlake and the Sea Eagle are concerned.

In addition, the Indian Navy is bound to take some sort of steps towards trying to find out why one of their warships, the Mazagaon Docks built Vindhyagiri is now taking sounding, when it should have by rights been floating peacefullywaiting to be decommissioned next year, incidentally.

But first, some interesting sidelights on the Vindhyagiri itself-a Leander Class frigate built under licence for the Indian Navy, based on a design that evolved from as early as 1931. The Pakistani Navy had a few too-though they decommissioned the last of theirs, the Zulfikar in 2007. The Brits themselves decommissioned theirs in the '90s, mainly due to the ship's dated design and high running costs. To say the least, these were Indian Navy ships which could be called obsolete, even before they were launched in the '80s. But then, that's never prevented those who decide these things from buying obsolete ships, or building them.

So what happened off Mumbai harbour, then, on Sunday evening? One ship sank, one stands arrested and one more may find itself in trouble soon. That's one part.{break}

Here it makes some sense to take a little diversion, and refer to the Capt PVK Mohan report on the aftermath of the MSC Chitra and Khalija III collision, August 2010 off Mumbai. Constituted by the ministry of shipping, it made some very relevant and pithy recommendations, including the core issue of communications and vessel traffic control in and around Mumbai. It also made some more recommendations about the lack of communication between the various authorities involved in ensuring the safety of navigation and allied services along the Indian Coast.

Sadly, recommendations of such reports are not binding on anybody, and sotruth be toldeverybody does pretty much what they feel like in the channel off Mumbai harbour. This is old tradition from well before the days when the Patricia simply "ran away" from Bombay port in 1974to start a new chapter in international shipping. That is the first truth, while the blame game has just about begun, with the Indian Navy declaring its innocence even before any sort of formal enquiry has begun. Everybody talks, very few listen, and nobody takes any cogent action. And the guilty who are smarter just run away, every time, to rule the waves another day.

The second truth is that there seems to be no control over lifeboat capacity and number of people onboard Indian Navy ships on family day events like this. Certainly, there may have been exemptions, and there are traditions for such days outbut in this day and age, one would have expected that some precautions of the Life Saving Appliances sort would have been takenlike making the wearing of life-jackets compulsory for all those families on deck. Or controlling alcohol on board, too.

As seafarers, we know ours is the second most dangerous profession in the world, but we have no right to expose our families to the sameregardless. If nothing else, an enquiry on this aspectof how there were almost 700 people on a ship rated for about 300needs to be held and corrective action taken. The writer needs to make it very clear that loss of life was a real danger in both incidents, in August 2010 and now in January 2011, and it is only good luck as well as better seamanship on the part of the rescuers that ensured lives were not lost.

The third truth is that ships behave very strangely in narrow channels, especially when in close proximity to other shipsand in this case there were at least three ships involved in navigating in a complicated manner at very close quarters to each other. Two were cargo ships, container ships in this instance, with not the best of responsivenessand difficult to handle inside restricted waters.

Also, since they can move relatively fast, and are on tight schedulesprone to and apt to over-speed when approaching and leaving ports, is Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

There is no single rule that governs matters in such cases. The "Rules of the Road", as applicable to vessels, are suitably complicated enough to provide for multiple interpretations. What makes it even more complicated is that Naval ships by sovereign rights are often a law unto themselves when operating in national watersand it is a wise merchant seafarer, as well as one who will have a longer career, who gives any and every Naval ship a very wide berth. Always. Respect as well as safety. In my days at sea, we would slow down when passing naval ships, and dip our ensigns in salute.

And stay very far from them.

Now we start treading in dangerous watersand that is that basic skill-sets in navigation and ship-handling are not exactly at the top of the pyramid when assessing the capabilities and possible future career graph of Indian Navy Executive Branch officers. As a matter of simple fact, officers ex-Indian Navy have to, rightly or wrongly, go through the full procedure to acquire their Certificates of Competencies to sail onboard Merchant Shipswhich says it all.

There is a reason for this fourth truthdeck side nautical branch seafarers on Merchant Ships spend a large part of their time simply doing what has to be done-which is, navigating ships. On fighting naval ships, however, there are a whole host of other things to doand navigation is often left to people to handle on a turn-by-turn basis. It is like driving a bus every day, or driving it once a monthby the end of it, you know who is the better driver, who knows the routes better, the whole nine yards.{break}

Now we come to what could possibly be the real cause of such accidentsnot just a fifth of the drop that cheers, which could also be a cause especially when approaching or leaving a port, or maybe even on "family days", but the fifth and most important truthego.

Yes, ego plays a big part in marine accidents of the "who will give way to whom" sort. If you have seen truck drivers arguing on crowded narrow roads on who will give way, you get an idea. Except that ours, at sea, are worse.

And further except for the fact that here we are talking of thousands of tonnes worth of inertia, all of them without brakes or immediate steering responses, playing chicken and sometimes even ship-rage in congested waters. It gets worse in clear visibility-in fog, or at night, with reduced visibility, at least, there is caution all around.

The airwaves around ports, or wherever ships tend to congregate, are full of "you give way", "no, I will not give way, I am deep draught, restricted in my ability to manoeuvre". Or maybe plain simple arrogant and cussed. Like, "I am from an ancient European seafaring heritage, so you native, you give way." True. This happens, too.

The seventh cause, unsubstantiated though darkly hinted on, is that there was an attempt on the part of the one ship to "get close" so that people could have a  better look and, this invites disbelief-wave at the people on the other ship. Certainly, waving at people on ships passing by has been a traditionbut you did it while watching them using binoculars. You did not pelt on converging or head-on or close quarters courses. Never.

However, when essential, if ships have to pass close to each otheras they do in narrow channels in their thousands everydaythen you don't wave. You call them up on radio, or you take guidance from shore-traffic management services, and you decide well in advance what actions you are going to take. Or you simply take action to stay well clear till you are well and truly past them. And then, afterwards, maybe you wave. In relief.

Behind every truth, however, lies a deeper cause. And the root cause for this sort of episode is that our older seaports have almost no accountability left in their functioning anymore. This has a trickle-down effect, and amongst those aspects that get impacted are the pilotage services, nowhere worse than with the centuries old Bombay Pilots. On one side you have a distinct drop in the levels of professionalism. On the other side is also the fact that navigation in and around Mumbai is all the more difficult because of the large number of wrecks dotting the areaand the vast increase in the amount of all sorts of traffic.

On a deadlier note is the simple fact that there is hardly any real re-evaluation of skill-sets once a person becomes a harbour pilot-revalidation of certificates of competencies are a simple paper formality without any real review or re-appraisal. Once a pilot, always a pilotand in case of an accident, the old law is that the pilot was there ostensibly only in an advisory capacity.

In reality what happens is like thisa pilot boards an outbound or inbound ship, and has hardly any time to figure out the vessel's characteristicsor on how she will behave in varying conditions of depth, wind, current, sea, swell, speed, traffic, visibility and the rest of it-before moving to handle it in the most delicate and complicated part of its voyage. The crew onboard the ships has had a long day, and cannot wait to see the pilot off, before getting on with the rest of the ocean voyage or getting into portand the pilot is in a hurry to disembark and get along with his life too.

Look deeper behind most maritime casualty or incident reports lately, and invariably the word "fatigue" creeps in, with the only profession in the world where a 100-hour week is mandated as legitimate. And worseif the seniors are fatigued, which they certainly are while making or leaving port, then the rest are worse off. One true and simple side-effect of fatigue is that you cannot recognise the signs of fatigue in others.

And that's what the grapevine really tells usthat the officers and crew on both the merchant ships, the Nordlake and Sea Eagle, were extremely tired, and as a result made serious errors of judgement.{break}

Certainly, the concept of duly mandated "rest hours" does exist-and it is the responsibility also of the Port State Control to ensure and see that this is adhered tobut then, at a port like JNPT, where berths are always congested, that would mean losing business while the ship's crew rested prior departure.

Are we tired of these repeated accidents outside Mumbai Harbour? Well, somebody had better start seeing, very soon, how tired the ship's crew are when they sail in and out of Mumbai.

The typical work schedule for crew and officers on a container ship calling Mumbai Port would be something like this:

An ocean-going ship would start port approach procedures, which typically requires all hands to be on specific multiple duties, at least four hours prior raising land. Add another 2-3 hours in the final approach, and then maybe a few hours at anchor, waiting for a pilot.

If weather is bad, or there is no room to anchor, then slow-speed steaming at full alert-since there is other traffic as well. Then, head towards the pilot pick-up point, another 2-3 hours of slow steaming, which is like trying to do a ballet in treacle. Pick up the pilot, another 2-4 hours before you tie up alongside your berth.

The shore unloading gangs don't even wait for the gangway to touch land before they start working the shipwhich has to be turned around, typically, in less than 24 hours. During that time, the Master and crew have to handle a host of shore authorities, each more "demanding" than the others, and also look after stuff like running repairs, picking up stores, go through mandated security and life-saving/fire-fighting drills, and multiple other tasks.

In addition, bunkers have to be taken, surveyors and company staff have to be attended to, there is always some number of people signing off and signing on, handing over and taking charge-and all the while, cargo is being simultaneously unloaded and loaded-especially on container ships. Papers are being signed blindly, phone calls to family and friends, since the ship is now "in range", when else will you download your personal mail and answer it.

Safe to say, most people will not have had a wink for about 36-48 hours, when the ship is ready to sail outand that's going to take another 4-8 hours of close quarters navigation. Interim, one has not had time to go ashore even for an idli or a batata-vada-leave alone catch up on shopping or the rest of the world.

And once you are out of Mumbai harbour, within a few minutes actually, you are smack in the middle of oil-field territory. More work, more proceed with caution, and more fatigue. Clear Bombay High, and now you are in pirate territory-more doubling up of watches and extra work, as well as lookout duties.

It would be interesting to see if one could get hold of the time-sheets for the Nordlake and the Sea Eagle. The truth behind this accident, amongst other truths, probably also lies within those fudged numbers, as it lies in other records being rapidly fudged all over.

And meanwhile, since trying to explain why shipping accidents happen outside Mumbai so frequently seems to be not so easy, this report ends with another quote from Lewis Carroll:

"When you are describing A shape, or sound, or tint; Don't state the matter plainly, But put it in a hint; And learn to look at all things With a sort of mental squint."

(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love-writing-and is also involved actively in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves).

User

DoT group proposes low radiation levels for cell towers

Policy makers, concerned about the impact of mobile phone radiation on the human systems, complications in reproductive health and behaviour problems in children, want operators to take effective steps to curb harmful effects

A report submitted last week by the inter-ministerial group to the Department of Telecommunications has recommended that the radiation level per cell tower should be less than 1-watt per sq metre-reducing it to 1/10th the current permissible norm. This was stated by Ram Kumar, former advisor (operations/technology) with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), at a consumer awareness programme on "Radiation Health Hazards from Cell Towers: Myth or Reality".

The programme was organised by the Bombay Telephone Users' Association (BTUA), on the completion of 25 years of working in the interest of telecom consumers. The programme had a panel of experts from the fields of medical research, physicists, bio-technology and consumer activists.

Mr Kumar told Moneylife, "We have forwarded the recommendations, which would be implemented very soon. Overall, there has been a positive response from DoT on the suggestions."

Rakesh Gujral, joint advisor with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), said that TRAI had recently issued a consultation paper on infrastructure for the telecom sector which has a section on radiation norms. Asked about the possible implementation of the changes suggested in consultation paper, Mr Gujral told Moneylife, "We have given a particular date for all stakeholders, including the operators to respond. Once they give their views, the process of discussion will begin."

Dr RS Sharma, deputy director-general, Indian Council of Medical Research, who also addressed the consumer seminar, said, "The  International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection  (ICNIRP) guidelines are not suitable for India. It should be reviewed in the Indian context considering factors like body mass index, nutritional intake, population density, etc."

Dr Sharma is engaged in an all-India study on the health hazards from mobile phones. In his presentation, Dr Sharma discussed the findings of international research which points out medical complications arising from sustained use of mobile phones and exposure to radiation form cell towers. All research points out to the impact on the human immune and nervous systems, complications in reproductive health as well as behavioural problems in children. He emphasised that all epidemiological studies point out to adverse impact of mobile radio especially on children, pregnant women and on male fertility.

One of the panel members, Professor Girish Kumar, of IIT Bombay, who has been researching the effects of electro-magnetic radiation (EMR) explained that the microwave radiation has two effects-thermal and non-thermal. The present safety norms are based on thermal effects, ignoring non-thermal effects which are three to four times more dangerous. Non-thermal radiation exposure is associated with affecting cell membrane permeability.

Other members of the panel, which included doctors from the radio-oncology department of Hinduja Hospital, also pointed out that they observed a much higher incidence of inner-ear myeloma and deafness in early adulthood and this was clearly indicative of the impact of long exposure to mobile phones. The panel members strongly expressed that the present radiation norms adopted by India as per ICNIRP guidelines are outdated, not suitable and should be reviewed in the Indian context.

According to current norms, the area within a six-metre radius of your tower is defined as dangerous, despite which many buildings have these towers and many more buildings are not very far from these towers either.

Some of the victims who developed cancer because of the exposure to radiation emitted from the mobile phone towers, also attended the programme and narrated their distressing experiences. One of the participants suggested that since the hazardous effects on children and the young were so clearly proven, it should form a part of the textbooks for the seventh and eighth standards.

Though a representative from TRAI was present for the programme, the overall response from the government was disappointing. Apart from a retired DoT official, there was no representative from the government-central or state, perhaps indicative of  the apathy to the woes and concerns  of citizens. 

User

COMMENTS

Narendra Doshi

4 years ago

We are still VERY FAR from safe. MUCH MORE IS ESSENTIAL for the radiation limits. Use mobile ONLY for emergencies. Increase use of land-lines. This is the prescription for the Aam Adami.

Isabella

4 years ago

That would be great to know that cell towers has low radiation.
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Narendra Doshi

7 years ago

Very very good information , so soon, by Mr. Alekh Angre. Please keep up the tempo, Moneylife team, and only wish that actual, legal steps get implemented by the end of 2011. If done, may be India would be the first country to act .

p y k

7 years ago

perhaps if we say that children of the monister/ bureacrat wd develop early cancer? deafness wd be a wake up call. in any case most of them wd be getting the cell phone free at the taxpayers cost, so to realise the damage , it must be dramatised.

they wd also get "bad vibes" from ordinary perosns to incresae the intensity of radiation!

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