8 reasons why Good Governance will not come by building on Aadhaar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the once upon a time staunch critic and opponent of Aadhaar numbering scheme, is not only enforcing, but also mandating usage of the UID number for his pet Digital India campaign 
The Aadhaar is putting national security in jeopardy. It is destroying governance and ability to govern. It will end the rule of law and perhaps even compromise the sovereignty of India. It is facilitating money laundering. Here is a summary of why Prime Minister Narendra Modi must act on the concerns and on his election promises.
1 The Political Gimmick: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been amongst the strongest critics of the unique identification (UID) or Aadhaar, recognizing that it was running on mere executive order and not legislative sanction, he had called it a political gimmick. He had further highlighted that neither the team that met him, nor the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had been able to allay his concerns and fears about National Security over the UID.
2 The Purpose of UID: In the presence of over a dozen different IDs, each of which serves a purpose and is not replaceable, there is no purpose served by the UID. When issued based on already existing IDs it is only adding yet another layer of red tape. When issued by “introducers” it serves no useful purpose, as it is not subject to any audit or verification. 
3 The Validity of UID: Furthermore, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the Finance Ministry have admitted that there are no designated officials certifying the identity or address and as such the UID is neither proof of address (PoA) nor proof of identity (PoI). From the procedure announced by the UIDAI, to recover lost UID numbers it is evident that several records are returned for biometric and demographic information. It is required to narrow match to 5-10 entries. This also means that de-duplication using biometrics is a mere theoretical exercise and biometrics cannot produce a unique ID. The UIDAI and Ministry of Finance have both indicated that no verification or audit of the UID database has ever happened. The UID is merely a random number assigned by the UIDAI to unverified and unaudited data submitted by private parties paid for each record is therefore not even a proof of the existence of any person.
4 The Insurance of UID: In addition, biometrics are neither permanent nor immovable. Biometrics change during the life of a person, sometimes even within a year, without warning. Biometrics can be easily stolen, replicated or misused as has been demonstrated by hacking fingerprints, and iris scans of high profile targets. The enrollment agencies that have captured the biometric have the entire demographic and biometric database in their possession and as such it can be misused or stolen. Once the biometric fails or is stolen, all the functions that have crept to link access to the biometric are denied with little or no recourse to the victim.
5 The Security Risks of UID: Using the UID to establish other ID’s and claim rights as a citizen when the UID is not even a PoI, PoA or PoE or can even be stolen creates a perfect channel for identity theft and infiltration by terrorists, anti-nationals, organized criminals and illegal immigrants. It is therefore not only a threat to national security but also to the sovereignty of the country. Using the UID as the sole or electronic know your customer (KYC) to open bank accounts that have no restriction of anti-money laundering rules, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s Master Circular on KYC, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Basel Standards of keeping customer data, as has been forced by the Department of Revenue and the UIDAI on the RBI, is opening doors for use of such accounts to finance terrorism, organized crime, park black money, siphon direct cash transfers of subsidy and launder money. There are enough incidents in the country that highlight the compromise of national security through UID.
6 The Sufficiency of UID: Further, the UID is neither necessary nor sufficient to deliver any benefit, rights and entitlements. Each benefit, right or entitlement requires its own ID and information that can neither be captured by the UID nor was the UID ever needed to deliver these. The UID worsens the quality of the ID databases by eliminating genuine beneficiaries and adding fake beneficiaries as for example has been seen in Pondicherry. The use of UID adds a new layer to the business processes creating exclusion and increasing untraceable leakages. Any leakages can be plugged by audit of the original ID databases without requiring a UID. Further process redesign to reduce steps, increase auditability reduces leakages. Neither of these has been done. 
7 The Costs of UID: The UID adds cost to every business process that uses it to deliver any benefit, right or entitlement. There is no basis to show any savings effected by the use of the UID as such savings can only happen by denying the delivery of benefits, subsidies or entitlements by claiming those denied were fake entries in the ID database of the government department. Firstly there can be no claim of the UID database being free of fraudulent entries. Secondly there are no FIRs in any department against officials or fake individuals. Thirdly many genuine beneficiaries have been excluded by the use of the UID. The UID therefore has only costs, not savings. Furthermore no cost has been put to stolen identity or worse the theft of a part or the entire registry. 
8 The Disenfranchising by UID: A multi billion pound National ID program was scrapped by UK Prime Minister David Cameroon as part of his election promise even after the citizens had paid for their IDs for similar reasons that promised to disenfranchise the citizens and make them helpless if such an ID did not work. The US government post 9/11 under Bush had already discovered the use of Social Security Number (SSN) had resulted in identity theft of massive proportions and had issued explicit memos to all offices about "Safeguarding Against and Responding to the Breach of Personally Identifiable Information”. This also required restricting the use of the SSN and delinking the SSN from multiple usage.
What the Prime Minister must do?
  1. Stop the UID linkages to government programs and initiate delinking UID from all government databases.
  2. Verify and audit the entire UID database; if it is too expensive to do so, destroy the database as was done in the UK.
  3. Initiate a time-bound judicial probe by a retired CAG and Supreme Court Judge supported by the CBI to investigate the exposure of the country to serious threats to national security due to UID.
  4. Audit of other government databases can be done to "clean" them without requiring any new ID.  If an ID is desired or an easy method to deliver and audit benefits is desired, consider shared ID http://www.sunday-guardian.com/analysis/time-to-think-of-aadhaars-alternatives or benefit delivery described here http://www.moneylife.in/article/10-digital-solutions-to-make-india-the-best-governed-nation/38338.html.
(Dr Anupam Saraph is a Professor, Future Designer, former governance and IT advisor to Goa’s former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and the Global Agenda Councils of the World Economic Forum.)
R Balakrishnan
9 years ago
UID ? what is it? People of Chennai do not even know of this. So why should Modi link anything to Aadhar? That is blatantly unfair and illegal. Modi had fought against Aadhar. Now he is for. Why? What changed his mind?
Mahesh S Bhatt
9 years ago
Dr Anupam,enjoyed reading your optimism brother.

Nandan creator of UID has lost election.So people rejected.

Except Sukaram all Ministers in India are legally honest & clean because our country is run by Lawyers( Jaitley is Master Finance Minister & Ravi Shankar Prasad is Master in Telecom/Broadcast/IT along with Law)(Raja ex Lawyer did great Telecom service in 2G,Coal Scam Lawyer Ashwin Kumar) & great General Entertainment Political Tamasha like news entertain our gullible audiences well with 36 news channels day & night INDIA WANTS TO KNOW??).

Sir its great country with great laws great systems feeding excellence in corruptions in varieties so relax & enjoy across the ministries.

Ask What Sucheta /Chitra got ROI for breaking Stock & Bofors?

Lastly our PM who says before elections NCP is ( Naturally Corrupt Party and after elcetions ( I used to consult Sharadji during my Chief Ministerial days on Governance at Baramati visit-result Ajit Pawar is answering ACB queries from home needles to say Lawyer Rahul Narvekar & may be additional batteries like Chidambaram Lawyer).

So why get upset things are gettng better Acche Din aagaey.

Laugh be merry be healthy why get into another Aadhar which is avghad in Marathi.

Rajesh Kothari
9 years ago
I will give real example of how poorly designed social benefit schemes are, while linking it to Aadhaar no. In Gas subsidy scheme there were multiple ways in which people could link Aadhaar no to gas subscriber data eg SMS, toll free no, filling form etc This way one could only 'add' a record to DBTL database. What if a mistake is done in recording this dta because either user made mistake in giving Aadhaar no by Sms Or similar mistake by person receiving call on tollfree no? It happened to me. I made a mistake in registering wrong Aadhaar no. Now, I find that there is no way I can delete or modify this record that was created in DBTL database. Even subsequent submission of filled form at gas agency is not able to change earlier record! I have got in to several telephonic and email exchanges with UIDAI and DBTL officials but no one is able to rectify a wrong record created by SMS or Tollfree no official.

Worst part is that it seems that there is no basic verification done by DBTL to ensure that name of gas subscriber and address is matched with that on Aadhaar no. If done, such wrong record would not get created in DbTL database.

Going by this information above, if some one manages to send SMS or talk to toll free no before I do, he can link my gas subscriber details with any Aadhaar no and deprive me of the gas subsidy for ever!!

Even there is a lack of any confirmation by banks when we give request to link Aadhaar no with bank account no. Bank simply say we have taken request. Whether they have really linked bank account no with correct Aadhhaar no remains a mystery, till you start receiving subsidy money in your bank account. What is the remedy if bank maakes a mistake?

We are left to deal with bad systems and processes!!!

A hapless situation in spite of brightest IT brains in our country.
9 years ago
Assume for a moment that everything about AADHAAR is wrong. Please tell which other 'proof of identity' that we otherwise use if fool proof, less error prone or even better than AADHAAR. End of the day, nothing can be perfect and the need is to find improved solutions and not just crib.
Sajjan Isaac
9 years ago
Many of the points are not convincing nor relevant. Aadhaar, in essence, is the assigning of a number to a unique set of biometrics. One set of Biometrics = One Individual. Now the weak point may be the name and identity used by that individual - this is a matter that can be verified as and when needed.Whatever name/guise adopted by an individual, the biometrics attached to the Aadhaar number will identify him. Why should an address be of such major concern - people are mobile and an address should be considered as a variable. Many of the weaknessess/shortcomings are solvable problems over the long run.

Look at the benefits delivered by Aadhaar so far and weigh that against the hypothetical problems.

Yes, it is importaant to have a proper sytem with checks and balances and laws to prevent abuse but the basic concept is sound.
Gurudutt Mundkur
Replied to Sajjan Isaac comment 9 years ago
It is the identity of immigrants, who have been allotted AADHAR numbers on the recommendation of politicians that is the major issue. Once that is set right, the other glitches can be corrected. It is reported that a number of Bangladeshis have been enrolled. That is the major defect.
Gurudutt Mundkur
9 years ago
All very valid reasons why AADHAR is a very weak document, especially because of reason 2 in the list.
But have you tried meeting Nilekani and tried to convince him?
The least the Govt. can do now to raise the credibility of AADHAR is to de-recognise those AADHAR cards which have been issued on "introductions".
9 years ago
8 reasons why Good Governance will not come by building on Aadhaar/ it will reach to u r POCKET MONEY like PAN-CARD so do not think it will help u in any matter till mindset clears and departments work HONESTLY.
Mathew Thomas
9 years ago
Was the opposition to UID during the 2014 Parliament election a "Chunavi Jumla"? If so, the party in government owes an apology to the people of India. An excellent piece of writing by Anupam.
Let me give some unsolicited advice to the PM and his cabinet colleagues as well as his party chief. The best way to ensure your defeat at the next elections is to harass people with these kinds of new-fangled technologies, improperly applied for inappropriate uses at the behest of foreign lobbies.
9 years ago
there must be some other ID card coming in near future, one never knows---all infructuous addition to confuse people.
9 years ago
The fundamental reason why Aadhar will be just one more way to torment and fleece the helpless and the disenfranchised Mango Man of India is the experience of the last 65 years. Every tool and law in the hands of India's tyrants, beginnign with the constitution, has been used by the Neta-Babu-Cop-Milard-Crony-Preferred Castes, tribes and religions Kleptocracy to divert others wealth, opportunities and happiness into their pockets. Neither Aadhar nor Digital India will be different.:
Mukesh kamath
9 years ago
It is astounding lapse on the part of the media not to have reported on this. Google has got full access to all documents stored by people in digitallocker and possibly millions of documents scanned and uploaded by people are already in foreign shores.
Tulsidas Thakur
9 years ago
At least, immediately the Aadhar Cards issued on the basis of Introducers should be cancelled or suspended to be revived on submission of necessary documents.
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