'Aadhaar has made me an orphan of our democracy'
Rajesh Mehar 08 December 2017
Hello. My name is Rajesh Mehar. I am a law-abiding citizen of India. Wait. Actually, I am not so sure anymore.
Until 1 April of 2017, I was a good citizen. You could even have called me an Adarsh Citizen. I paid my taxes on time, did not participate in cash transactions if other alternatives were available, did not hoard cash or have undisclosed income, did not use unregistered mobile phone SIM cards, did not claim subsidies surreptitiously, and definitely did not resort to legal action against my own country.
But since 1 April 2017, it has all been coming apart. I have not been able to file my Income Tax returns despite wanting and trying to. My bank accounts are most likely to become non-operational at the end of this month and I will be forced to transact only in cash. I will not be able to receive a salary, declare my income, or participate in the economy legally. My mobile phone connection will be blocked in February 2018, and I may need to borrow a SIM card and impersonate someone else. I still do not plan to claim any subsidies, but I most definitely plan legal action against my government.
All of this has happened only because of one powerful force in my life. No, not my faadhaar, not my maadhaar, but Aadhaar. My name is Rajesh Mehar. I do not have Aadhaar and I am an orphan of our democracy.
But why? What am I hiding?
Several friends have laughed at my stubbornness. Why don’t you want to get Aadhaar? What are you hiding? Don’t you know Aadhaar is stopping many illegal practices? If you can give your fingerprints to the US Consulate for a visa, why can’t you give your biometrics to our government? Do you hate our Prime Minister? 
I have been thinking about these questions without scepticism and formulating my honest answers. It makes sense to start in reverse order.
No, I do not hate our Prime Minister. I disagree with him on many counts, and I think he has made some grievous mistakes along the way, but I like him as much as I like any other political leader from any other party. And that is NOT why I have not got my Aadhaar.
Yes, I have obtained a visa and travelled to other countries and I have submitted my fingerprints in the process. However, I did so feeling powerless, criminalised, and disenfranchised every moment of that process. I did so knowing that I would go back to the welcoming, safe bosom of my country at the end of the ordeal. Now to feel the same way about the land I was born in makes me sad beyond description. I feel like a crying child, beaten and abused outside, coming back home to discover that my parents had gone mad and I was to be beaten and abused at home too.
No, Aadhaar has not stopped criminal activities and illegal practices, or even reduced them. In fact, criminals are using Aadhaar, and common citizens’ lack of understanding about it, to perpetrate crimes and continue illegal practices. The government themselves have leaked citizens’ private information, even the President’s office has. Sometimes, private information has been leaked through obscure websites that nobody knows about, like Zambo dot in. Using Aadhaar, common citizens’ money has been redirected without their knowledge, or cheated out of them again and again and again and again. In fact, criminals have even managed to make fake Aadhaars and the initial promise of weeding out fake claimants of government subsidies and entitlements is also now broken.
Are there safeguards?
But my friends are not idiots. “Arre, but it will never happen to you yaar. The government has made sure that there are safeguards. Even if anything goes wrong, you will be able to get redressal,” they say. Well, no
Aadhaar was created by a team of technologists who have since left Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the parent organisation, to create other companies that will profit from the Aadhaar ecosystem. This is a troubling conflict of interest, and at least one person connected to ‘monetising Aadhaar’ has been publicly outed as an online troll, creating multiple accounts to badger and discredit critics of Aadhaar. Some people who created the Aadhaar technology are acknowledged to be volunteers! Would I have my broken tap fixed by a volunteer plumber? Would I give my cellphone to have its shattered touch screen repaired by a volunteer technician? Then how can we accept that a mission critical national identity project was developed by volunteer technologists?
If by chance, your or my Aadhaar number is made public, it can never be changed. And unfortunately, you and I are stuck with the same fingers and irises for the rest of our lives. Despite this irrevocable loss in case of a breach, there is no easy complaint system for Aadhaar-related fraud. You can call the Aadhaar customer service call centre, which, by the way, people are having trouble finding. Or it can be reached sometimes but the ‘system doesn’t work’. And of course, no court can allow any legal action connected with Aadhaar except if the legal action is initiated by UIDAI itself.
So, if you or I have an Aadhaar related problem, what is the best way out? Many citizens have taken to using Twitter, a public social media platform owned by an American company, to get through to UIDAI. Moreover, UIDAI themselves encourage us to reveal our Aadhaar number by ‘Private Message’ to air our grievance via this website, which is legally bound to divulge information on the platform to American security agencies. Excellent.
Why is it compulsory?
Nobody knows why Aadhaar is mandatory. Or even if it is mandatory. You can choose not to have an Aadhaar as long as you do not need a bank account, a mobile phone connection, income tax returns, school admissions, medical care, and a host of other optional items. Our Prime Minister himself had opposed Aadhaar vehemently. UIDAI itself petitioned the Supreme Court that Aadhaar should not be made mandatory. So, why is it mandatory? Nobody knows.
Orphaned by Democracy
Indian citizens are constitutionally blessed with three parents for support, one more than the average child gets allocated. These three parents are the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Citizenry have tried to tell these three parents that they are being abused. Unfortunately, these parents have orphaned us. The first parent, our legislature, passed the Aadhaar related legislation as a money bill, which means it did not get debated in the Rajya Sabha at all. The second parent, our executive, has been indirectly making Aadhaar mandatory by making it compulsory to link it to several other services. There is no option for those who do not have Aadhaar or those who do not want to link it. Our last resort, our judiciary, has been patiently wearing down our complaints by not substantially hearing the several Aadhaar related matters before it for the last two and a half years.
So, bereft of any parental support, here I stand.
Thank you for listening to my story. I am Rajesh Mehar, a law abiding citizen of India until the next Aadhaar linking deadline. I am now an orphan of our democracy. Will civil society adopt me?
(Rajesh Mehar is a father of two beautiful children and also works for an IT company. He does not have Aadhaar yet.)
Ralph Rau
7 years ago
Is there any doubt that the present dispensation leans towards authoritarianism ?

My was or the highway is the message emanating from the top. Decision with huge implications are taken without proper consultation or planning. Shoot first and then take aim ?

During Indira Gandhi Emergency the opposition could hide from the government.

With Adhaar the opposition does not stand a chance. Their bank account will be shut down. Their mobile will be tracked. Their train bookings will be tracked etc etc

Adhaar in its extreme and ubiquitous avataar demands unquestioning trust in a soul less government which believes anti-government equates to being anti-national and rampantly misuses sedition laws against harmless opponents.

Will the Supreme Court save us from this tyranny ?

Silloo Marker
7 years ago
Though written in a humurous vein, Rajesh Mehar has presented a scary picture of what could happen in a variety of situations to those who have succumbed to the pressures of the administration to have an Aadhar card and link it to numerous schemes, if not...! It is this fear factor created for anything and everything announced by the government which is so unreal in a democratic country. Rajesh Mehar is one of the few courageous souls who are ready to face this pressure and not succumb to it.
Kumar Swamy
7 years ago
Hyderabad: Woman kills husband, pours acid on lover's face. Why? Aadhaar helps find answer

Mahesh S Bhatt
7 years ago
Bhagat Singh Savarkar killed tormenters Why are we tolerateing inflation/bad roads redeveloped again and again/poor infra/etc etc Mahesh Bhatt
Harish Kohli
Replied to Mahesh S Bhatt comment 7 years ago
Good advice. Better late than never even though 70 years late. Where should one start?
Vikas Sharma
7 years ago
Hi Rajesh,

Story is almost smmae here , Till now I am Nir-Aadhar and when this month I have decides to have one aadhar for me , I have found , Getting new Aadhar is very very tough now, Now You need to pay for your late lateefi,

Vikas Sharma
Replied to Vikas Sharma comment 7 years ago
Hi Rajesh,

Story is almost same here , Till now I am Nir-Aadhar and when this month I have decides to have one Aadhar for me , I have found , Getting new Aadhar is very very tough now, Now You need to pay for your late lateefi,

Very few bank branch and center are available where you can have new Addhar but they also processing in very few numbers

You may need to wait for 4-5 days to get chance to appear for registration of your biometrics.

I got alert when I come to know that one of my friend’s kids are not able to get admission in multiple schools without Aadhar and soon I also need admission for my kid.

So I become forced to go for Aadhar now.

Why is this hurry for Government First they bring some time lines then forced school to verify Aadhar for kids even in Nursery classes and stop all the temporary Aadhar Kendra

Also banks Aadhar Kendra are in rotations for new Aadhar registrations for few weeks it is available in X branch/banks and in few weeks it closed and some Other Bank or new registration center started.

This is pure torture on us nothing else...
Anand Vaidya
7 years ago
Over 500 missing children reunited with their family via Aadhaar: UIDAI CEO
Adarsh Shetty
7 years ago
To the readers - Along with this article, please do read the comments as well. For every one concerned on UIDAI whether for or against it, please also do watch videos of Dr Usha Ramanathan and Dr Anupam Saraph along with your other sources of information on UIDAI. I do not have a UIDAI number yet and am waiting for the Supreme Court ruling as well as 1-Jan-2018.
Mallika (Mallika) Chellappa
7 years ago
I feel exactly like this writer, and was all set to boycott Aadhaar, but
succumbed to family pressure and got it and, in fact, got it for my 92-yr-old mother also!
I think having an identity helps us as citizens, but since I had had a PAN for many years (my mother also) I did not see the need for another all-India identity. PAN could have been extended to become the one universal Indian identity, regardless of whether one paid taxes or not. However, the ITD was not prepared to cooperate; enter UIDAI.. ITD is a cost to the Indian tax-payer, and sooner it is disbanded, the better for all of us. Further, government itself is a cost, and the sooner we realize this and reduce the administrative costs of government, the better for all of us. This will require changes in the way we measure GDP - counting the same money again and again is misleading - there is only so much production and value-added activity, and even that has to be set off against the resources consumed, before we have a clear idea of whether the nation is in fact better off each year.. Which economist/sociologist will bell this cat? Trading may lead to short term profits for a few, but is it carried out in an ethical manner, or does hoarding and cartelization (which covers even manufacturers!) skew the profits in favour of those few? IMO we should trust Indian citizens, and allow them to become self-regulating. There can be one audit body that takes up sample cases for investigation to keep everyone on the straight and narrow, and even this could be a citizen's body. Of course, the practice of getting one's or one's company's finances audited by an independent auditor should not be thrown out .. But having huge governmental bodies with sweeping powers to raid any citizen/organization without adequate judicial oversight for the protection of the rights of the citizen/organization is uncalled for. The government and enforcement agencies are for the benefit of the citizens, and, in the final analysis, for the weakest and most voiceless of the citizens, before all others.. Unfortunately, that is not how it seems to work..
Let's see
7 years ago
I haven't been reading all the posts of Moneylife recently, my bad, but this narrative has considerably strong undertone of fiction, like a story being 'uncovered' by NDTV. The common element between two is, selectively 'destructive imagination' and attempts at influencing the interpretation of some of the reader (s).

Probably, there is a long list of 'patriotic citizens of this country' turned in to 'orphans', who are so very desperate to migrate out of India, because of some steps taken by Mr. Modi, but like everybody else I'm also CONVINCED that Mr. Modi and his team is threatening (to commit suicide if such orphans leave country) them. Also, I'm optimist that someday some of the 'generous donours' of this country would be able to collect (and donate) enough money so that Aamir Khan - another 'insecure' orphan (became after May 2014, probably realized in March 15 and spelled in November 2015) with his family, could migrate from this country.

I think we know, lot many Indians are settled (or even working at present) in different countries. Looking forward to see a/an report/article, capturing the number of citizens, who have migrated from other countries where SSN (or some form of it, may be like AADHAR) tool is deployed as they couldn't cope up with the projected (or real) rigidity of such mechanism which is in effect there, from decades. Optimist that someday, some 'RAAJESSH KEHAR' would share the report of such an analysis when he gets 'decently paid' by the 'elements'. Also may be Indians from such countries have packed their bags for 'ghar wapsi' from Middle-east, Americas (US and Canada), Singapore and wherever else, they felt suffocated for similar reasons.

May be we are so used to lawlessness, that we are subtly/openly raising slogan 'long live anarchy', whether knowingly or unknowingly, as the crackdown by Modi Government has started.
Kumar Swamy
Replied to Let's see comment 7 years ago
Don't you wonder why 'Money Life' encourages such articles? Indirectly or directly supporting the corrupt in our country, yet, talks about fighting corruption? Corrupt Hypocrites? Why we subscribe and pay for this crap?
Anand Vaidya
Replied to Let's see comment 7 years ago
Well said! Exactly what I think. These leftists are spreading fear, uncertainty and sowing doubt. I am surprise MoneyLife would give such rogues a platform!
Replied to Anand Vaidya comment 7 years ago
But you have not countered the author on his points. If they are addressed or no need to worry. You have simply made it an issue of ideology.
Amit Gupta
Replied to Karthikeyan comment 7 years ago
Well said Karthikeyan. I totally agree.
@Let us see- i found it difficult to follow your writing...its very broken...seems some sentences stitched together.
Ramesh I
7 years ago
Good part-factual, part-satirical take on this new monster called Aadhar, unleashed by UPA and then NDA Govt led by PM Modi. I have no doubt that this Aadhar project serves some sinister purposes unbeknown to the general public, yet. While I have lost faith in our parliament and the Political Executive long ago, what pains me is the absolute callous attitude of the judiciary, esp. the Supreme Court of India, which has been delaying hearing matters related to the constitutional validity of Aadhar, which violates various rights of citizens, besides the fundamental right to privacy. What can be more important for our "Lordships" in SC than to try cases which impact a billion plus people of the nation remains a mystery. With even a retired CJI accepting Governorship of a State, with various SC & HC judges accepting positions in Commissions of Enquiry or Tribunals setup by the Govt, I have reason to believe that the higher judiciary is deliberately delaying hearing cases related to Aadhar to be nice to the powerful and supreme Political Executive. I wish the Constitution barred all Constitutional positions like SC & HC judges, CEC, CAG, etc. from being part of ANY Govt setup for 10 years after they retire. Only then can this quid pro quo arrangement between various institutions be reduced.
As for Aadhar issue, over a billion Indian residents have already procured one, voluntarily or coercised by the Govt, and the SC declaring it unconstitutional at this stage serves little purpose. It's a pity there is no authority which can Force SC to hear a case expeditiously, and one can only put up with its whims and fancies, like we have become used to doing with the other two arrogant 'pillars' of our democracy - the legislature and the Executive.
Ramesh Poapt
7 years ago
In our country of 130 crores, every change can be problem initially.The concept is much more beneficial than it drawback. Any change can be a disruption initially. We will have to accept so many such disruption in future
i.e AI etc. its fast changing world. Should we trail behind or adapt it? yes, the problems are bound to come.
7 years ago
Wow, just read the Modi Sena comments below.

This is the real threat to India's future, not dictatorial demagogues. A horde of literate, but uneducated minions who can only stick themselves to the tails of a politician, and then mindlessly repeat whatever he says.
Kumar Swamy
Replied to Manoj comment 7 years ago
What's wrong with you, man. If someone does not agree with you, you call them "Modi Sena", "Bhakt", "literate but uneducated minions"......Just shows you are just an ASSHOLE. Go suck an egg.
Replied to Kumar Swamy comment 7 years ago
Yes, these are as bad as the ones sitting on other side labelling the author of this article as leftist.
Krishnamurthy Kakaraparthy
7 years ago
Like Mr Rajesh, I am also a law compliant, retired,Senior citizen and I have taken the Aadhar card in 2011 it self. But I have become an 'Orphan' in a different way. Recently, when I have gone for linking my Mobile no. to Aaadhaar number, to my surprise and agony, my finger prints are not authenticated by the Aadhaar system. I tried in another 2 places with the same result. The mobile company told me that this is not uncommon especially in the case of Senior citizens as their finger prints get worn out with the age and that I should go to an Aadhar center and update my finger prints/biometrics. So I went to an Aadhaar center , but there also finger prints quality is detected as poor (20% signal) and the acknowledgement given to me for updation remarked that ' Poor quality finger or missing finger'. Now I don't know what to do . I have become an 'Orphan' in spite of having an Aadhaar card. Most of the agencies have only a finger print scanner and not any other equipment to authenticate with the help of Iris data . None in the Aadhar center could tell me how to get authenticate my self with poor quality finger prints. I checked with UIDAI web site and could not get any solution. I don't know where to go and whom to ask for a solution. Friends, especially Senior citizens, be careful and check immediately whether your finger prints quality is good enough for the Aadhaar standards or become 'Orphan' like me.
Agreed that Aadhar is a 'Baby step' in right direction. But the process is 'Half Baked'. If any of you know or find a solution for my problem please let me know. If you are influential or in Right place, please take this issue to the notice of the concerned authorities. I request Money Life foundation also to take up this issue.
Parimal Shah
Replied to Krishnamurthy Kakaraparthy comment 7 years ago
The aadhar is taking biometric of retina as well. If fingerprints do not come good or had is missing retina scan can be used for authentication.
Krishnamurthy Kakaraparthy
Replied to Parimal Shah comment 7 years ago
But Retina scanners are not available with all the agencies. It is not a practical solution to provide Retina scanners with every body, every Ration dealer etc. Is it not ?
Replied to Krishnamurthy Kakaraparthy comment 7 years ago
2 senior citizens I know, including one bedridden ex-judge, have the same problem, if thats any consolation. And sorry, they havent found any solutions. I think the solutions will be made when LK Advani or Sonia Gandhi get aadhar cards and similar problems.
Kumar Swamy
7 years ago
Stop whining! And join other Indians in helping fight corruption......
Replied to Kumar Swamy comment 7 years ago
Why dont you join the army, and really help the nation?
Kumar Swamy
Replied to Manoj comment 7 years ago
We are not talking about the army, you IDIOT.
Lovie Yadav
7 years ago
Dude this is ur stubbornness and nothing else. You can move freely even with Aadhaar. You must have given ur thumbprint for passport as well. You are not gaining any sympathy by this article. You are stupid and nothing else.
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