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No beating about the bush.
Are HPCL, BPCL and IOC, which are harassing consumers over the LPG cylinder, 'agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services'? Their conduct in violation of the Supreme Court's order illustrates how they are delivering illegal, intrusive and unwelcome messages
With an explicit approval of ministries of finance and petroleum and natural gas, unprecedented bombardment of messages (SMS) on mobiles of consumers is going on. Oil marketing companies like the Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL), Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Indian Oil Corp (IOC) are daring the majesty of the Supreme Court, which has reiterated its ban on the making of Aadhaar mandatory for any services. It is evident that the floodgates of messages (SMS) have been opened under the influence of Nandan Nilekani, chairman, Task Force on an Aadhaar-Enabled Unified Payment Infrastructure for the direct transfer of subsidies on Kerosene, LPG and Fertilizer, Task Force on Direct Transfer of Subsidies on Kerosene, LPG and Fertilizer and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in manifest and admitted non-compliance of the apex court’s order.
The consumers are bearing the consequences of the terms of reference of an (Interim) Task Force on Direct Transfer of Subsidies on Kerosene, LPG and Fertiliser that was constituted on 14 February 2011 by the Ministry of Finance. Its mandate was to “examine and suggest an implementable solution for direct transfer of subsidies on Kerosene, LPG and Fertilizer to intended beneficiaries with the use of Aadhaar numbers (Unique Identification numbers), Aadhaar-enabled transactions and Aadhaar authentication infrastructure of the UIDAI.” This was announced in the Budget Speech of 2011-12. Subsequently, the Terms of Reference of the Task Force were extended to include the development of an Aadhaar-Enabled Unified Payment Architecture to on 20 September 2011.
For the central government what is at stake is the recommendation of these task forces which are being implemented in contempt of Supreme Court as if the Task Force is superior to the Court. Central government had sought modification of the Court’s order by its application of 8 October 2013 but the Supreme Court did not grant them any relief and instead it categorically stated in its order of 26 November 2013 that its order of 23 September 2013 remains unmodified.
The order unequivocally directed, “no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that some authority had issued a circular making it mandatory.” But these companies are making the consumers suffer. Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance had apprehended that “The possibility that some such agencies (data collecting entities) are aligned to communal and fundamentalist groups and thus having ulterior motive in collecting non-mandatory information, cannot be ruled out.” Its apprehension stands vindicated.
Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoP&NG) has filed the attached ‘Application for clarification/modification of order dated 23.09.2013”. The court’s order of November 26 reads: "After hearing the matter at length, we are of the view that all the States and Union Territories have to be impleaded as respondents to give effective directions. In view thereof notice be issued to all the States and Union Territories through standing counsel. The advocates who have already entered appearance must file their replies within a period of three days from today. Learned standing counsel for the States who were not represented may take instructions from their respective States and file their response within one week."
Now Nilekani is indulging in fibbing and hiding his indulgence in myriad veils. As chairman of UIDAI, he issued the unique identification (UID)/Aadhaar enrolment form making a solemn declaration that “Aadhaar Enrolment is free and voluntary.” This is a declaration of Government of India. This is a promise of Planning Commission of India headed by the prime minister. As a consequence, all the agencies, state governments, the Government of India and the “agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services” are under legal and moral obligation to ensure that it (UID/Aadhaar) cannot be made mandatory.
According to the Strategy Overview document of the UIDAI "enrolment will not be mandated" adding, "This will not, however, preclude governments or registrars from mandating enrolment." The ‘governments or registrars’ who are making it mandatory is none other than Nilekani.
The enrolment form of Aadhaar/unique identification (UID) number promises on top of the form that it is “free and voluntary”, several central ministries and uninformed state governments attempted to make it mandatory, in a manifest case of breach of citizen's trust. It is the promise of the President of India and Government of India. Is it not?
Clearly, Nilekani’s words in his official capacity are untrustworthy. This is unbecoming of a person who has a rank of a cabinet minister in the Planning Commission. The column no 8 in the Aadhaar Enrolment Form at page no 1 refers to “agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services”. Are these oil marketing companies (OMCs) which are harassing consumers, “agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services”, their conduct in violation of the court’s order illustrates how they are delivering illegal, intrusive and unwelcome messages and not welfare.
At page no 2 of the Aadhaar Enrolment Form provides, “Instructions to follow while filling up the enrolment form” which states that column no 8 is about seeking consent from an Indian “Resident (who) may specifically express willingness/ unwillingness by selecting the relevant box” by ticking “yes” or “no” options . The column no 8 at page no 1 reads: “I have no objection to the UIDAI sharing information provided by me to the UIDAI with agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services.” Now the issue is that if residents are promised that enrolment is “voluntary” they may have given their consent unaware of its ramifications but if they know now that it is made “mandatory” they are may refuse to give their consent. Has their consent been frozen?
Given the fact that the pretence of taking consent from consumers was advanced. It has clearly established two sets of biometric Aadhaar number holders, one who have given consent for their information to be shared with the agencies involved in delivery of welfare services and the other being those who enrolled for the biometric Aadhaar number but they did not give consent for their information to be shared with these agencies. The question is why are the ones in the latter category too are being submerged in the flood of unwanted messages. Among the Big Data and intelligence companies the constant refrain is data is never shared, it is bartered. Isn’t UIDAI bartering away right to free choice, a basic human right in the name of plugging the leakage of the subsidy?
The court is likely to hear the matter on 28 January 2014 and take these ‘welfare agencies’ and the concerned ministries to task.
But in violation of Supreme Court's order, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas through notifications published in the Gazette of India vide GSR 718 (E) and GSR 791 (E) has made several amendments to the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Regulation of Supply and Distribution) Order 2000 (no.10) claiming powers conferred under Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) 1955 has made UID/Aadhaar mandatory. The Section 3 of ECA 1955 gives powers to control production, supply, distribution, etc of essential commodities. It is inexplicable as to how this provides a legal mandate to link the UID number with its services. This implies denial of subsidy to those who do not have the impugned UID number, which is based on some biometric identification of ‘usual residents’, unmindful of the fact that the subsidy in question is meant for citizens. This is a case of manifest inconsistency, because it does not differentiate between a citizen and a non-citizen.
Despite UID/Aadhaar number being legally questionable its continuing enrolment for biometric UID/Aadhaar number based on an Enrolment Form which promises that it is ‘free and voluntary’ and indulging in a sleight of hand by stating that by enrolling you give consent for it to be made mandatory through 'welfare agencies'.
The fact is UID number is constitutionally, legally, legislatively, politically, historically, democratically and ethically wrong and the key issue is not whether it should be mandatory. It is an attempt take over property rights over personal sensitive information from citizens for good.
It constitutes colossal and unprecedented assault on privacy and democratic rights. Under the influence of advertising which is being dished out by UIDAI and the Governments, some publications and icons like Amitabh Bachchan will have us believe that there is nothing wrong with Orwellian architecture masquerading as solutions architecture and public information infrastructure. The video of Bachchan in ICICI bank ad endorsing biometric UID/Aadhaar is available here.
The claims of the Solicitor General and Ministry of Petroleum are questionable. An undated letter (circular) of the Ministry reads, "...we will restrict LPG distribution only to those who have registered Aadhaar numbers with the distributor." This is in direct contradiction to the submission made by Solicitor General in the Supreme Court. It is clear that it has nothing to do with the subsidy this is about the supply of LPG itself, with or without subsidy. Meanwhile, it has come to light that individual companies have already put in place a process for continuing LPG supplies with or without Aadhaar/UID number and with or without Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT), hence there can be no disruption or hardship caused by removing UID from the DBT process as envisaged by the Solicitor General.
In a bizarre move, three oil PSUs have moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its earlier order, but before a different bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi for an urgent hearing, according to a report of the Press Trust of India dated 6 October 2013.
In the Madhya Pradesh High Court a petition has been filed against the “illegal demand for providing Aadhaar number for Gas Cylinders on subsidized rate without any statutory force for making the Aadhaar number mandatory.” The writ petition (civil) no 18679 of 2013 has argued that “it is totally arbitrary.” One of the grounds in the petition refers to the publication of advertisements by the government saying, “by the impugned publication and demand of Aadhaar number is totally unreasonable because at present even 25% of LPG Gas cylinder holders does not get them register or the UID authorities issued the Aadhaar number or Aadhaar card hence making the Aadhaar card is totally illegal.”
Dealers in Madhya have revealed to this author that there is a compelling logic to keep the Aadhaar-linked subsidy transfer for LPG in abeyance. MoPNG and OMC has/had proposed to launch DBTL in Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur etc on 1 October 2013 wherein it is/was envisaged that after 31 December 2013 no consumer shall be able to get the subsidy transferred to their bank account if he/she does not have Aadhaar or the Aadhaar is not linked with the bank account. Notably, those people who got their Aadhaar number linked to gas connections are being charged an undeclared hike of Rs50 per cylinder. Hindustan Times, Bhopal has reported on 9 January 2014 that IOC is arguing that it is not blame as the LPG consumers of IOC are paying extra because of the value added tax (VAT) uniformly levied by the central government. IOC has announced that once the deadline of seeding gas connections with Aadhaar is over the cylinders would be available at the market rate and only way of availing of the subsidy would be through the Aadhaar linkage to the gas consumer and bank account.
Most of the consumers have been unable to get the desired subsidy transferred in their account because of this pre-condition. The consumers have been deprived of the subsidy due to the following reasons:
The dealers are arguing that on the basis of the fact that Supreme Court order, Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for availing the subsidy otherwise huge number of the consumers shall be deprived of their bona fide right to avail the subsidy.
Meanwhile, on 6 January 2014, LPG Distributors Federation has announced that they will go an indefinite nationwide strike from 19th January. Their demands include direct benefit transfer for LPG scheme be made compliant with the direction of the Supreme Court. The strike is also a protest against distributors being forced to take Aadhaar from the customers despite Court’s order.
Supreme Court has simply stated what the central government has promised in the Parliament. In its order what the Court has done is to simply reiterate the significance of the promise made by Government of India. As of now Chidambaram, Nilekani, Moily and the oil companies are making the court’s orders subservient to their court’s directions. This sets a dangerous precedent.
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(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)
Wherever direct cash transfer scheme based on Aadhaar was launched in the states that went for elections, Congress lost. Promises based on biometric Aadhaar are rooted in a make believe world to which Indian voters are allergic to, shows the recent assembly elections
It is noteworthy that in the four states where assembly elections took place, the biometric Aadhaar based direct benefits transfer (DBT) was being implemented in 154 assembly seats of Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Indian National Congress, the champion of DBT could win only 17 seats. In Delhi where DBT scheme was taken up in 63 assembly constituencies with Rs103 crore in cash transfers, the party won only eight seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 31 seats and the Aam Admi Party (AAP) got 28 seats. The verdict is starkly against Aadhaar-based DBT. A report from DNA dated 16 December 2013 has underlined this. Instead of biometric Aadhaar-based DBT being a game changer for the Congress it has emerged as a regime changer.
The electoral verdict is evidence against the diagnosis and remedy of World Bank Group and its Indian votaries. The verdict indicates that political parties that support Aadhaar are bound to pay heavy electoral cost for their involvement and complicity in putting citizens to inconvenience through tried, tested and failed identification technologies of transnational companies.
In view of the order dated 26 November 2013, the new government in Delhi will have to file its affidavit in the Supreme Court in Writ Petition (Civil) No(s) 494 of 2012 because notices have been “issued to all the States and Union Territories through standing counsel.” In its interim order dated 23 September 2013, the court has directed, “In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for not getting the Aadhaar card in spite of the fact that an authority had issued a circular making it mandatory and when any person applies to get the Aadhaar card voluntarily…”
When Ministry of Petroleum sought the modification of this order, this order was reiterated on 26th November wherein the court said, “Interim order to continue, in the meantime.” The next date of hearing is on 28 January 2014.
An editorial in The Financial Express (December 30, 2013) sounds worried as to ‘Where has the DBT gone?’ It argues that since between June and December 2013, about 1.84 crore customers in 184 districts have been given Rs1,700 crore of LPG subsidy transfers using Aadhaar as platform it is disturbing that Rahul Gandhi is talking about reviving and modernising Food Corporation of India (FCI) and shops under the public distribution system (PDS). It is unconvincingly argued in the editorial that if instead of cash transfer modernisation of existing infrastructure is undertaken, it will not plug annual leakages in the social security expenditure to the tune of Rs3 lakh crore.
Despite the ongoing electoral debacle being faced by Congress, it has failed to see the writing on the wall. If Rahul Gandhi is talking about modernisation of existing infrastructures in place of evidently failed initiatives like Aadhaar and DBT, it seems to imply that his trust in the prescriptions of Nandan Nilekani is beginning to erode. Notwithstanding this, the recent advertisements of the Ministry of Petroleum reveals that unless he bulldozes his opinion down their throat, the government is not likely to give it a burial but by then it will is going to be too late.
In such a backdrop, AAP govt should introduce a resolution in the Delhi Assembly for abandoning 12 digit biometric Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number in Delhi.
The new government in Delhi must scrap UID/Aadhaar related regressive legacy of Congress-led regime which made right to have citizens’ rights dependent on being biometrically profiled and not on constitutional guarantees and Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This has taken citizens to pre-Magna Carta days (1215 AD) or even earlier, to the days prior to the declaration of Cyrus, the Persian King (539 BC) that willed freedom for slaves. Should it not be resisted?
The democratic mandate in the assembly election is against UID/Aadhaar, which was made compulsory and caused hardship to residents of Delhi. Unmindful of the fact that people’s right to energy and to cooking fuel funded by government is being snatched away by linking it with Aadhaar. The right to life and livelihood is under tremendous threat because significantly large number of Indians has been moved away from fire wood and coal based cooking. Delhi, for instance, claims to be a 100% LPG state. That means right to life and livelihood can be snatched away with its link with Aadhaar. Thus, the threat of exclusion in absence of Aadhaar based on decrees and sanctions unleashes violence on the people. It made Aadhaar a pre-condition for every right of Delhi residents including right to marriage. This is unconstitutional and must be undone.
All parties must rigorously examine the ramifications of biometric information based identification of residents of India in the light of global experiences. UK, China, Australia, US and France have scrapped similar initiatives. US Supreme Court, Philippines’ Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights have ruled against the indiscriminate biometric profiling of citizens without warrant.
AAP ought to take note of the fact that endorsing Supreme Court’s order dated 23 September 2013 against Aadhaar, even Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance in its most recent report dated 18 October 2013 has asked Government of India to issue instructions to state governments and to all other authorities that 12-digit biometric Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number should not be made mandatory for any purpose. The Seventy Seventh Report of the 31-member Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance reads, “Considering that in the absence of legislation, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is functioning without any legal basis, the Committee insisted the Government to address the various shortcomings/issues pointed out in their earlier report on 'National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010' and bring forth a fresh legislation.”
If AAP introduces this resolution, it will further establish its claim to represent the common man.
In the meanwhile, a resolution was passed by West Bengal Assembly on 2 December 2013 against biometric Aadhaar-related programs. AAP govt should introduce a resolution in the Delhi Assembly seeking scrapping of biometric Aadhaar, asking all the parties to support the resolution. It is evident... that from the resolution against the Aadhaar that all the parties other than Congress are opposed to the implementation of Aadhaar-based programs.
Notably, wherever DBT scheme based on Aadhaar was launched in the states that went for elections recently, Congress lost. Rahul Gandhi had turned Aadhaar as his key promise in UP and Amethi, but he and his party lost miserably in Uttar Pradesh election too. Promises based on biometric Aadhaar are like India Shining campaign of BJP-led government which is rooted in a make believe world to which Indian voters are allergic. Even Sanjay Gandhi faced the adverse consequences of forcing planning on human body. Aadhaar-linked programs make Indian citizens subjects of Big Data companies. It is akin to Sanjay Gandhi's forced family planning programs.
The abandonment of biometric Aadhaar number by AAP will demonstrate that its government will end the culture of spying on its citizens and children in myriad disguises. This will help citizens stand up against illegitimate advances of the state.
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(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)
What is being proposed by the likes of Pitrodas and Nilekanis through so-called transformational government project is to subjugate nation states and turn their citizens into subjects through social control technology companies
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
-- The Fourth Amendment, Bill of Rights, United States Constitution adopted on March 1, 1792
Miraculous results can be achieved by practicing the methods of subversion. A king shall have his agents in the courts of the enemy, the ally, the Middle and the Neutral kings to spy on the kings as well as their eighteen types of high officials. A single assassin can achieve, with weapons, fire or poison, more than a fully mobilized army.
-Kautilya in Arthashastra, 150 A.D.
“There’s safety in the blindingly obvious”
--David Headley (formerly Daood Saleem Gilani), an intelligence agent
It is ‘blindingly obvious’ that biometric identification is meant for indiscriminate warrantless and automatic surveillance of citizens. It signals the arrival of the "colonial epidemic of general searches" undertaken on behalf of the monarch with unlimited power on the life and property of subjects.
How will judges hear cases in the judicial system of an Orwellian state? How will they judicially/ biometrically identify the double agents?
Will they allow themselves and their fellow citizens to be subjected to an “ever-watchful electronic sentinel in order to collect future evidence”?
Will Indian Supreme Court allow the Government and non-state actors to wield the power of surveillance over sovereign citizens as portrayed in George Orwell’s novel 1984 and Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report”? Orwell was born in India.
In the US Vs Antoine Jones case, the US Supreme Court gave its unanimous verdict on 23 January 2012 and held that by installing the Global Positioning System (GPS), an electronic device on Antoine Jones, the defendant’s jeep without a valid warrant, the police had committed a trespass and the trespass constituted an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. Michael R Dreeben, Deputy Solicitor General, Government of US had argued that information revealed to the world is not protected by the Fourth Amendment which protected "reasonable expectation of privacy" of citizens.
In 2005 Jones was suspected of drug trafficking but he was arrested when their warrant to attach a GPS tracking device to the underside of the defendant's jeep had expired and had crossed the geographical boundary for which it was valid. Walter E Dellinger III, the former US Solicitor General and the attorney who represented Jones said the verdict was "a signal event in Fourth Amendment history." This judgement came long after the 10 member 9/11 commission of inquiry in the US had submitted its report. The verdict is attached .
During his first presidential election campaign Barack Obama promised to act against the REAL ID Act passed illegitimately for identifying citizens biometrically during the regime of George W Bush. Obama administration acted on his promise along with the States of US.
With its efforts to create Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)’s Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR), National Population Register (NPR) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) in the aftermath of 26 November 2008 wherein 166 people were killed and more than 300 injured in the world’s fourth largest city, Mumbai, Government of India seems to be undertaking tasks which have been abandoned in US. The book ‘The Siege: The Attack on the Taj” authored by Adrian Levvy & Cathy Scott-Clark published in 2013 by Penguin Books reveals that “The handler Abu Qahafa, ‘the Bull’, has never been identified. Nor has Major Iqbal, David Headley’s ISI contact, who recruited ‘the Mice’, his information gatherers in Mumbai, who boasted of an Indian double agent called ‘Honey Bee’. None of these sources have been found or identified.” Abu Qahafa who handled the military components of Operation Bombay is a Punjabi from Bahawalpur is the second in command in Lashkar-e-Toiba which was formed in 1990 by Hafiz Saeed. The book will have us believe that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was providing consistent intelligence inputs based on its ‘significant source’ implanted in Lashkar to Indian intelligence agencies. It is admitted that Lashkar knew David Headley (formerly Daood Saleem Gilani) who befriended to be operating for western intelligence agencies.
One wonders whether the chiefs of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)’s biometric NPR and NATGRID and Planning Commission’s CIDR of biometric UID/Aadhaar numbers identify these unidentified individuals like ‘Honey Bee’ before proceeding with their task of biometrically identifying Indians. Before proceeding with these initiatives it, it must fix accountability for failure to act on available intelligence inputs about the attack on Mumbai.
What are the lessons from bomb explosions in Mumbai in April 1993 in which Sanjay Dutt was allegedly involved among others, conflict in Kargil, attack on Parliament and attack on Mumbai trains in July 2006 and on 5-star hotels and railway station in November 2008? Did it really create a rationale for indiscriminately biometrically profiling all the Indians?
Press Trust of India reported on 13 December 2013 that Chief of Army, General Bikram Singh accepted the Legion of Merit, the sixth highest military honour of the US, when he visited that country from 2nd to 5 December 2013 without the clearance from the Ministry of Defence. General Singh was also inducted into the US Army War College (USAWC) International Fellows Hall of Fame, and toured various military facilities of USA such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Benning in Georgia. The Ministry learnt about it from media. General Singh gave a keynote speech to the USAWC graduating class of 2013-2014. He is an alumnus of the USAWC, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, having completed a course there in 2004. During his visit to the US earlier this month, Xinhua news agency reported that the Ministry has sought an explanation from General Singh but Sitanshu Kar, the spokesman for the Defense Ministry has refused to comment on the matter.
Earlier, Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma who as the Chief of the Naval Staff of Indian Navy, from 31 August 2009 to 31 August 2012 and as Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee got himself biometrically profiled on 18 August 2011. Did he take the permission of Ministry of Defence before subjecting himself to the ignominy of being biometrically profiled? It has also been reported the office Minister of Defence was implanted surveillance equipments. These incidents happened during the tenure of AK Antony as the Defence Minister.
In November 2012, Admiral Verma was appointed as the High Commissioner to Canada. Can Government of India on affidavit inform the Supreme Court that Admiral Verma’s biometric profile is not available with Canada’s Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), which is part of the intelligence sharing alliance comprising of US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and France? In an unrelated development, Nandan Nilekani was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Canada on 31 May 2011.
Most recently, the Economic Times has published a news based on the report from Press Trust of India dated 28 December 2013 that Captain P Raghu Raman, the CEO of NATGRID has announced that "In many ways it (NATGRID) has started. There are certain elements being helped out where it is required," when he was asked if the NATGRID has begun its operations. NATGRID is born out of the lessons from 26/11 attack in Mumbai. NATGRID attempts to replicate Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of US and will require similar budgetary allocations. It is to act on the basis of 21 data sources of various intelligence and enforcement agencies for 10 user agencies. National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) was supposed to gather information through the NATGRID.
Prior to this Captain Raghu Raman was the CEO of a multinational security company, Mahindra Special Security Services Group, a subsidiary of the Mahindra Group. He has been Chairman, Internal Security Committee, Bombay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) and head of Subgroup on Industry Guidelines and Member, National Task Force on Internal Security, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Raman had left Indian Army on a job offer from Anand Mahindra, the industrialist and took over as the CEO of the joint venture between Mahindra and British Aerospace, Mahindra Defence Land System in 2009. During the Mumbai attack of November 2008, Raman reportedly spoke constantly on the phone for nearly two days with some people trapped inside sharing "dos and don'ts" despite the fact that he had lost two friends in the terror strike.
It has been noted that 22 minutes after the first shots were fired in Leopold Café, Mumbai on 26 November 2008, Black Cats were ready but it took the Cabinet Secretary, the top most civil servant in the country, 70 minutes (one hour and 10 minutes) to contact Jyoti Dutt, the then Chief of National Security Guards (NSG) under whom Black Cats operated. Madhukar Gupta, the then Secretary, MHA was stranded in Pakistan, on government business, and could not get a flight until the morning and when he did arrive he asked Dutt who was to leave for the airstrip, to pick him up from his residence which entailed significant deviation from Dutt’s route. This is noteworthy that the authors’ name some officials and in some specific cases they just mention their designations like the Joint Secretary Police (Internal Security) who withheld the green light for the combat operations in the crucial moment. One of the sons of Syed Saleem Gilani, a radio broadcaster from Voice of America and Serrill Headley from Maryland, David Headley (formerly Daood Saleem Gilani) is a US citizen of Pakistani descent. David Headley (formerly Daood Saleem Gilani) is from a mohajir family, who migrated to Pakistan from Kapurthala, Punjab after partition. His half-brother Danyal was the public relations officer of the Pakistan’s Prime Minister. When his father died Pakistan’s Prime Minister (name?) visited his family to offer condolences. There is ‘overwhelming evidence’ that David Headley (formerly Daood Saleem Gilani) who ran ‘Reliance cyber café’ near Churchgate railway station was an intelligence agent.
Is it irrelevant to recollect as to why Adil Sharyar, son of Muhammad Yunus, a migrant from North West Frontier Province, Pakistan who was convicted in US was pardoned by the President of US? Yunus was a confidant of Indira Gandhi and was one of the names mentioned as candidates for the Presidential elections in which R Venkatraman was elected as the President. Venkatraman mentions his name in his book ‘My Presidential Years’. Sharyar was imprisoned and he was serving a 35-year sentence for setting off a firebomb, fraud and other violations in Florida. He was pardoned by Ronald Reagan on 11 June 1985, the day Rajiv Gandhi arrived in Washington for a visit with the President. What was the quid pro quo involved to secure the pardon for Sharyar from the US President? Rajiv Gandhi had told India Abroad, news agency that he had not asked for the release of his friend.
In the Parliament, Prof Madhu Dandvate had asked the Union Minister of External Affairs (MEA) whether the attention of Government has been drawn to the news report in Times of India (Delhi Edition) of 4 March 1986 under the caption ‘Ex-CIA agents’ firm made ‘Rajiv’s India’ and whether it is correct that the company which made the film is owned by a former CIA boss Max Hugel and does not such a close liaison between the former CIA boss and the firm production activities harm the national interests and security requirements. KR Narayanan, the then Minister of State in MEA had replied, “The Television Documentary “Rajiv’s India” was a joint production of Jack Anderson File/International Syndications Inc. It is a fact that Max Hugel, the President of International Syndications INC (ISI) held an official position in the CIA from 21 January 1981 to 14 July 1981” in a written reply. With regard to question as to its harm to national interests and security requirements, the minister added that it does not harm because “Normal procedures of checking with appropriate authorities for protection of national interests and security requirements are invariably observed before Government grant permission to the producers to visit India to make films. Every security precaution was observed when the television team visited India.”
Jack Anderson, the co-producer of the documentary was an investigative journalist who had exposed the infamous Nixon-Kissinger ‘tilt’ towards Pakistan during the war for the liberation of Bangladesh. Doordarshan had announced that the documentary will be broadcast nationwide but at the scheduled time it was not shown "due to certain technical problems.” The ‘technical problems’ never got solved. As per official records is it known as to for how many hours did Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi spend with Max Hugel in getting themselves recorded? Will this documentary be ever shown in India? The books of intelligence agencies underline that in the business of intelligence gathering, once an individual is recruited, he remains recruited forever. Is it untrue?
It was in this a context that Dr Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda (Sam Pitroda), a US citizen, came on an invitation from Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister. Pitroda became an advisor to Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister and is at present the advisor to the current Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations (PIII) in the rank of a cabinet minister without oath of office and secrecy. He claims to be working for 'Democratisation of information', which sounds like there is safety in stating blindingly the opposite of what one intends to do.
PIII intends to connect each of the country’s 250,000 panchayats to fast, broadband connections. As per its plan, a giant, nationwide, broadband network that will not only integrate all Indians with their governments but government departments with one another, all educational and scientific institutions, every related government programme and develop new applications for these programmes as the network takes shape is unfolding. Aadhaar is a subset of this universal plan. These programmes will be controlled by applications to be developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) which created during 1975-1977. The overall plan is that UID will tag every person, GIS will tag every place, and the applications will tag every programme. Once the basic PIII is in place, it is envisaged that “Once we do the basic platforms, “Some kid will figure out the applications.” Which kid will figure out the applications? What if these applications end up undertaking surveillance of nine hundred million telephones which are currently being used in the country?
It is noteworthy that Pitroda and Hubert Vedrine, former foreign minister of France, have founded the People for Global Transformation (PGT), which held its first meeting in the last week of September 2012 with the Reliance Foundation in Mumbai. At one point, Vedrine was the Diplomatic adviser of French President, François Mitterrand during 1981-1995. Coincidentally, French Government has a stake in the Safran Group which is involved in biometric Aadhaar. In an interview to Business Standard, Pitroda said, we “come together to think about what kind of world we need to create. For over a decade, I have been telling friends that during the World War II, small groups of people got together and decided certain institutes needed to be set up and they were formed with an idea to dominate the world. So, we have the UN, World Bank, NATO and others. All these institutions do not make any sense now; they are obsolete.” They are using 10 people who from a policy-making background, from emerging and mature economies for this work.
Pitroda says, “Nation-states might not have the same meaning anymore as 70 years ago, especially in the connected world.” Global Transformation is the aim of the World Bank’s e-Transform Initiative launched in Washington in April 2010 which is unfolding in partnership with five transnational companies and national governments of France and South Korea. Meanwhile, Nandan Nilekani, the official of Planning Commission has won an award coincidentally named NDTV’s Transformational Idea Award 2011. He is also a winner of ET Award winner for Policy Agent of the Year in 2011 and a member of the ET Awards Jury in 2013. In an unrelated development, The Economic Times and The Times of India have been publishing UIDAI’s advertisements at regular intervals.
It is indeed true that a small group of people set up institutions like UN, World Bank and NATO to dominate the world. They are indeed obsolete but what is being proposed through so-called transformational government project is to subjugate nation states and turn their citizens into subjects through social control technology companies. There is democracy deficit in the these institutions but what is being bulldozed under the dictates of these very institutions only enables their firmer grip over the fate of present and future citizens.
At a convocation address on 2 December 2013, Pitroda said, “We are creating two major networks – one called knowledge network to connect all our Universities and R&D institutions, libraries and others, with 40 GB bandwidth to transfer large amounts of information so that our scientists can collaborate better, share resources and expedite research and development. The second network is to connect 250,000 local panchayats through optical fiber. When that happens, all our villages would have huge amount of broadband capacity. These two networks will cost us about Rs50,000 crore. The first one is already built the second one will be built in next eighteen months. In addition, we are creating platforms for ID (Aadhaar) that Nandan Nilekani is working on; GIS (Geographic Information Systems) – Dr Kasturirangan, Dr Ramaswamy, Dr Nayak are working on; Dr Gairola in NeGP (National e-Governance Plan) where information on food distribution, driver’s license, passport, income tax – all would be organised. We are computerizing 32 million court cases because it takes fifteen years to get justice today. We need to organise and computerize the police, CBI and prisons.” He revealed that his public information infrastructure will be ready in 2-3 years at the cost of about Rs1 lakh crore.
No one seems to have asked Pitroda who is a political appointee in the rank of a cabinet minister in the Indian National Congress-led Government as to what will be the fate of PIII related sets like UID/Aadhaar, NPR and NATGRID after the 2014 elections.
Notably, it is not only the US Supreme Court that has come in defence of democratic rights, even the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Supreme Court of Philippines has ruled against indiscriminate biometric profiling by the Government or any entity. Now Supreme Court of India has to decide whether or the letter and spirit of Fourth Amendment of US Constitution is present in Indian Constitution or not and whether the unanimous verdict of ECHR against indiscriminate profiling is relevant in India as well. Besides biometric Aadhaar, NPR, the court must consider examining the interconnectedness and legality of NIC, NATGRID and PIII as well.
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(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)