Do political patrons of the UID have their own Aadhaar number? –Part XXVIII

Neither President Pranab Mukherjee, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi nor several ministers from UPA have enrolled for the Aadhaar scheme. Yet, the UPA government proposes to re-introduce the NIDAI Bill thus mocking parliamentary process at the fag end of the 5-year term after execution of the Aadhaar project

India ranks fifth among countries reporting maximum number of cybercrimes, as per the latest report released by Internet Crime Complaint Centre of the US. There are 20 types of cybercrime being witnessed worldwide. The need for new cyber jurisprudence and new international court for cyber jurisprudence has to come up.

The Committee note that the complex inter-connectivity of Internet with borderless environment, evolving innovative technologies, lack of awareness and rapidly changing security and threat landscape has posed massive challenge to cyber security ranging from data theft, espionage and Denial of Service (DoS) attacks to offensive actions by adversarial State and Non-State actors. The Committee also note that anonymous attacks – groups sponsored by Nations and terrorist groups also have become a major cross border challenge in Cyber Space.

- Report on Cyber Crime, Cyber Security and Right to Privacy, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, February 2014

Besides interim budget, fiscal policy statements for 2014-15 and supplementary grants for 2013-14 by P Chidambram, the Finance Minister, the schedule for 17 February 2014 in Rajya Sabha has eight items listed for the legislative business. This list dated, 13 February 2014, has been signed by Shumsher K Sheriff, Secretary General, Rajya Sabha. The last item mentions The National Identification Authority of India (NIDAI) Bill to be re-introduced. It is meant to legalise biometric data collector, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)’s work done since 28 January 2009. This Bill was trashed and rejected by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in its report to both the Houses of  Parliament. This exercise by this lame duck minority government led by Indian National Congress is manifestly insincere.  

The item No8 in the legislative business reads “RAJEEV SHUKLA to move that Bill to provide for the establishment of The National Identification Authority of India for the purpose of issuing identification numbers to individuals residing in India and to certain other classes of individuals and manner of authentication of such individuals to facilitate access to benefits and services to such individuals to which they are entitled and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, be taken into consideration.” Rajeev Shukla is the Minister of state in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Planning.

In its observations and recommendations, 25 member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology in its 88 page report on Cyber Crime, Cyber Security and Right to Privacy dated February, 2014 states, “the Committee is extremely unhappy to note that the Government is yet to institute a legal framework on privacy. When asked about the status of the above legislation, the Department has diverted the issue stating that the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) is still in the process of evolving legislation to address concerns of privacy, in general, and it is still at the drafting stage. The Committee seriously feels that in view of enormous data, very sensitive in nature, being consigned to cyber space each day particularly in the light of Government’s visionary UIDAI programme, the Government should not jeopardise the privacy of citizens on the plea that the Department is concerned only with Section 43(A) which it is based on self-regulation.” 

The real issue of unhappiness of citizens is why should UID/Aadhaar programme and National Population Register (NPR) be proposed and executed prior to the legal framework for safeguarding right to privacy?  How can this Committee feign ignorance of the fact that far from UIDAI programme being “visionary”, it lacks the legal mandate to be brought into operations? Perhaps, the word has been used to underline the irony. 

The report aptly states, “The Committee observes that National e-Governance Programme (NeGP) is one of the ambitious projects of the Government and the Department is planning to use ‘Cloud computing’ for e-Governance Programmes and for storing its data. The Committee also note that the Government of India has recently published GI Cloud (Meghraj) – ‘Strategic Direction Paper’ and ‘Adoption and implementation Roadmap’ as a part of this Cloud initiative, which prescribes the precautions, standards and guidelines on security addressing the various challenges and risks and gives more clear dimension to the timelines of implementation. With regard to the usage of ‘Cloud computing’, the Committee in their Twenty-seventh Report (2011-12), had expressed apprehensions about technological and legal challenges associated with the concept of ‘shared platform’ and had recommended the Department to conduct a study/survey to find out the existing scenario nationally and internationally and be prepared with a mechanism to deal with the risks associated with the usage of Cloud computing and be vigilant about such emerging technologies. However, the Committee is surprised to note that though NeGP has entered seventh year of its implementation, the Department has neither conducted any study/survey in this regard nor has any data on instances of cyber security breaches encountered in e-Governance projects. The Committee feel that NeGP being a visionary project of the Government, the Department should not show any laxity. The Committee, therefore, recommend the Department to conduct a study/survey to find out the instances of cyber security breaches in NeGP projects. While cautioning the Department to be extra vigilant with the usage of the new technology ‘cloud’ which is still at a nascent stage, the Committee desire that the Department would stick to their assurance of keeping security issues on priority, particularly, in the implementation of e-Governance projects and make the programme foolproof.”

The report has revealed that the Government has jeopardized the privacy of citizens through UIDAI’s biometric identification exercise in that case how is that the Committee mention Government’s UIDAI programme as visionary. Given the fact that the UIDAI’s data is admittedly stored on cloud, the fact that government ignored the Committee's apprehensions on the usage of ‘Cloud computing’, the concept of ‘shared platform’ and the risks associated with the usage of Cloud computing in the 5th year of the implementation of Aadhaar unmindful of cyber security breaches encountered in e-Governance projects, the government merited strong criticism. Instead of censuring the Government and making it accountable, the Committee only expresses surprise.  But in its own mild way, this Committee also trashed government’s unpardonable callousness towards the security ramifications of storing UID/Aadhaar data on cloud and the failure to enact a legal framework for right to privacy. As has been done with right to privacy although the government admitted the need of enacting a legal framework for UIDAI, its tenure is about to an end without enacting it.

At page no. 46-47, the report Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology that examined the work of Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, asked about the surveillance by National Security Agency (NSA) of the US. It states that in the context of privacy of data, the Committee desired to know the Department’s stand on the issue of surveillance by US and interception of data sent through e-mails. To this, J Satyanarayana, Secretary, DeitY, responded during the evidence as under:-

“Sir, about the US surveillance issue, there has been a debate, as you are aware, this morning in the Rajya Sabha itself and the hon. Minister has addressed this issue. He also emphasised that as far as the Government data and Government mails are concerned, the policy, the copy of which I have given to the Committee earlier, is going to address a large part of it. Hopefully, by the end of this year, if it is implemented, the things will be absolutely safe and secure…x.x.x.x…In the reply, the Hon. Minister also said that we have expressed our serious concern about the reported leakages and in the name of surveillance, the data that has been secured from various private sources, internet resources by the US Government. We have expressed it formally to the Government of the US and also during the Secretary of State’s visit a few weeks ago in India, this has been reinforced on a person to person basis. We have been assured that whatever data has been gathered by them for surveillance relates only to the metadata. It has been reiterated and stated at the highest level of the US President that only the metadata has been accessed, which is, the origin of the message and the receiving point, the destination and the route through which it has gone, but not the actual content itself. This has been reiterated by them, but we expressed that any incursion into the content will not be tolerated and is not tolerable from Indian stand and point of view. That has been mentioned very clearly and firmly by our Government.”

In effect, the Indian National Congress-led government has formally communicated to Government of US that India has no problem if they conduct surveillance for metadata in fact it is acceptable and tolerable but “incursion into the content will not be tolerated and is not tolerable.” An Urdu couplet- hum woh hai jo khat ka mazmoon bhaap lete hai lifafa dekhkar (we are those who can assess the content of letter by merely looking at the envelop)-captures the message from the US what Congress party in particular and the political class in general have missed. Such faith in Government of US' empty words is akin to Jawaharlal Nehru's gullibility with regard to designs of Chinese government that led to the humiliating defeat of India in 1962 and Mir Jafar's touching 'innocence' about the deeper designs of British East India Company that compelled him to switch sides in the battle of Plassey in 1757. 

The Parliamentary Committee observes, “While taking note of the Department’s stand on the recent instances of surveillance and interception of data (though only meta-data) by other countries, that incursion into the content of the country’s data will not be tolerated, the Committee is of the strong opinion that the Department should have exercised enough caution so that such a situation was not allowed to occur at the first instance. Further, the Committee feels that the Department should be extremely vigilant and cautious in terms of safety as well as in terms of policy with different countries so as to avoid such leakage and interception of sensitive data in the name of surveillance. The Committee, therefore, strongly recommends the Department to take remedial measures and come out with a policy which should be implemented stringently so as to obviate recurrence of such instances.”

This report was presented to both the Houses of Parliament on 12 February 2014. It reveals that Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Computer Emergency Response Team, US (US-CERT), Japanese Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre (JP-CERT/CC), National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), South Korea, Computer Emergency Response Team, Mauritius (CERT Mauritius, Computer Emergency Response Team, Kazakhstan (CERT Kazakhstan) and Government of Finland for international cyber security cooperation arrangements. Department of Electronics and Information Technology have signed a MoU with Canada in ICT and Electronics sector. The Department, with the help of Ministry of External Affairs, is having engagement dialogue with several countries such as Malaysia, Israel, Egypt, Canada and Brazil on cyber security incidents and vulnerabilities in IT products and systems.

Edward Snowden has disclosed that several of the countries like Canada, South Korea and others, with whom the MoU has been signed, are in the intelligence bartering/ sharing alliance with the US, prior to India’s independence.  

While presenting the Union Budget 2009-10, the then Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee had announced the setting up of the UIDAI by the Government to “establish an online data base with identity and biometric details of Indian residence and provide enrolment and verification services across the country.” He had allocated Rs120 crore for this project as “a major step in improving governance with regard to delivery of public services.”

The Minister did not inform the Parliament that UIDAI “was created during 2009-10 and a modest start with an expenditure of Rs30.92 crore was made.” Parliament has been kept in dark about how Unique Identification (UID) /Aadhaar Numbers to every resident in India started unfolding without sharing “the linkages of various welfare schemes steered by different Ministries/departments of Government of India”.

The Parliament remains unaware about how UIDAI selected the “Managed Service Provider” for the Central Identity Data Repository (CIDR) of biometric UID/Aadhaar numbers. For this, a budget of Rs1900 crores was allocated in the Union Budget 2010-11 by the Finance Minister. It is admitted that “CIDR will be handed over to the Managed Service Provider (MSP) on a long term contract basis.”

Economic Survey 2011-12 claimed, “The Aadhaar project is set to become the largest biometric capture and identification project in the world.” It is admitted by UIDAI that there are “ownership risks (Ownership of the project by stakeholders), Technology risks (nowhere in the world a project of this size has been implemented) and privacy concerns (there may be groups raising privacy issues – many ID Projects in western countries have been stalled due to the opposition of privacy groups).” The UIDAI claims that it is “putting into place the risk mitigation strategies to minimize some of these risks” but this has never been shared with the Parliament and the citizens.

Union Budget speech 2012-13 under the heading Growth, Fiscal Consolidation and Subsidies reads: “23. The recommendations of the task force headed by Shri Nandan Nilekani on IT strategy for direct transfer of subsidy have been accepted…This step will benefit 12 crore farmer families, while reducing expenditure on subsidies by curtailing misuse of fertilizers.” Such claims of benefits from direct transfer of subsidy has been debunked in the past, but government remains adamant to pursue this path under the influence of vested interests.

The Ministry of Planning, in their Action Taken Reply has been quoted as having stated that “UIDAI has been authorized to enroll 60 crore residents by March 2014 through the multiple registrar approach. As against this, UIDAI has enrolled 36.58 crore residents and a further 10.94 crore residents have been enrolled by RGI. Total enrolments by the end of June 2013 is 47.52 crore. The total Aadhaar generation up to the end of June 2013 is 37.37 crore......The average cost per card is estimated to range between Rs100 to Rs157” in October 2013 report of PSC to the Parliament. The total budgetary allocations made for UIDAI since its inception up to 31 March 2014 is Rs5,440.30 crore, as per details given below:


Financial Year

Amount (Rs. crore)



















*Actual Expenditure, ^ Budget Estimates

The budget of this project comes under the ministry of planning. The budgetary support to Aadhaar was increased by 47% to Rs1,758 crore in 2012-13 from Rs1,200 crore in 2011-12 for UIDAI to enroll Indian residents for their unique IDs/Aadhaar to 60 crore from 20 crore. A provision of Rs2,620 crore has been allocated in Budget Estimate (2013-14) for UIDAI and a major part of the budget provision for Rs1,040 crore is earmarked for ‘Enrolment Authentication and Updation’, out of which Rs1,000 crore has been earmarked under the head ‘other charges’. What is this “other charges”?

Besides this what is the justification of Planning Commission undertaking enrolment of 60 crore Indian residents under UID and Ministry of Home Affairs enrolling 61 crores under NPR. Is the Congress-led government running two similar projects with public money to merely satisfy the anonymous donors of the party?

The 31-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance examined and censured on numerous occasions. In its April 2013 report on UIDAI (Sixty-Ninth Report) observes, “The Committee is concerned to note that during the last three financial years (up to January, 2013), a huge sum of Rs2,342 crore has been spent on the Scheme and Rs2,620 crore has been allocated in BE 2013-14, out of which Rs1,040 crore is earmarked for ‘Enrolment Authentication and Updation’ pending legislative sanction of the Scheme. The Committee strongly feels that in the absence of legislation, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is discharging its functions without any legal basis.”


As of 1 February 2014, the members of the Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of India (CCUIDAI) related issues that oversee the project include Dr Manmohan Singh, Sharad Pawar, P Chidambaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, Kapil Sibal, Girija Vyas and Jairam Ramesh. After it came to light in a cabinet meeting that these ministers themselves were not clear as to whether biometric identifier number branded as Aadhaar refers to a card or a number, the Group of Ministers (GoM) regarding ‘Issue of Resident Identity Cards’ to all usual residents of the country of age 18 years and above under the scheme of National Population Register (NPR) was constituted to look for an answer, it seems. The Terms of Reference of this GoM is to “examine all aspects relating to the proposal for issuing Resident Identity Cards to the usual residents of the country, keeping in view all relevant issues and finalize its recommendations at an early date.” This GoM on Resident Identity Cards has an ulterior motive of outwitting opposition parties because during Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime, the same was proposed. It is an exercise to create an illusion of bipartisan support.  


It is quite astounding that none of the members of CCUIDAI or the GoM members, be it AK Antony, P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sushilkumar Shinde, Ajit Singh, Kapil Sibal, Praful Patel, V Kishore Chandra Deo or Jairam Ramesh have got themselves enrolled for either UID/Aadhaar or NPR. Notably, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the political patrons of the project have chosen not to enroll and baptize themselves with so-called right to identity to them. Pranab Mukheree, who fathered the project and declares how he set it rolling in his bio-data is also conspicuous by refraining from enrolment like LK Advani, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Prakash Karat, Nitish Kumar or Arvind Kejriwal. None of the known editors of print and electronic media have enrolled themselves for it. No known social worker, be it Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy or Sandeep Pandey have endorsed it. No known judges, lawyers, jurists or academicians of the country have got themselves biometrically profiled under the project. In fact acclaimed scholars like Ashis Nandy have referred to UID number as prison number. Likes of whistleblowers such as AK Jain and Press Council of India member, Arun Kumar have debunked it. This demonstrates that the project does not enjoy the confidence of the senior most politicians, judges, scholars, activists and the legal fraternity of the country. From among the political class only those who appear innocent of deeper politics like Raj Thackeray, Arjun Munda and Narendra Modi have been conned into it. 

In such a scenario, any further allocation for UIDAI in the interim budget, 2014-15 which “is discharging its functions without any legal basis” will be yet another act of contempt towards Parliament and citizens’ democratic rights. The proposal to re-introduce the NIDAI Bill is a disingenuous exercise mocking parliamentary process at the fag end of the 5-year term after the execution of the project, which seems aimed at creating a charade of trying to create a legal basis for indefensible UIDAI.


Attempts are underway to make this ‘online” demographic and biometric database cloud irreversible and ubiquitous so that it can be the cow, which can be milked until the sun sets on national and transnational patrons of Congressmen, their acolytes and outsourcing companies.


You may also want to read…

Why biometric identification of citizens must be resisted? Part I

Biometric identification is modern day enslavement -Part II

Biometric profiling, including DNA, is dehumanising -Part III

Marketing and advertising blitzkrieg of biometric techies and supporters -Part IV

History of technologies reveals it is their owners who are true beneficiaries -Part V

UID's promise of service delivery to poor hides IT, biometrics industry profits –Part VI

Technologies and technology companies are beyond regulation? -Part VII

Surveillance through biometrics-based Aadhaar –Part VIII

Narendra Modi biometrically profiled. What about Congress leaders?-Part IX

Aadhaar: Why opposition ruled states are playing partner for biometric UID? -Part X


Is Nandan Nilekani acting as an agent of non-state actors? –Part XI


Aadhaar and UPA govt's obsession for private sector benefits–Part XII

CIA-funded MongoDB partners with UIDAI to handle Aadhaar data –Part XIII


Are Indians being used as guinea pigs of biometric technology companies? -Part XIV

Aadhaar: Is the biometric data of human body immortal and ageless? Part XV

Aadhaar: The propaganda of transnational vested interests –Part XVI


Aadhaar: Pakistan handed over, India giving database on a platter– Part XVII

Engineered row in US-India relations, an attention diversion tactics of big brothers?—Part XVIII


Aadhaar: UIDAI and the ‘fifth column’ of Napoleon—Part XIX

Aadhaar: Turning citizens into subjects through social control technology companies –PartXX


Why Kejriwal govt in Delhi should abandon biometric Aadhaar?—Part XXI


Aadhaar for LPG: Oil companies, Ministry of Petroleum & UIDAI disobeying Supreme Court order–Part XXII


Why Vasundhara Raje should immediately withdraw circulars making Aadhaar mandatory -Part XXIII


How Congress has been proven wrong on biometric Aadhaar and NPR -Part XXIV


Aadhaar, NPR, UN resolution and deafening silence of political parties –Part XXV

Is Congress converging UID numbers of EVMs and Indian voters? –Part XXVI


Is our political class trapped by economic hit men from database empires? -Part XXVII

(Gopal Krishna is member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), which is campaigning against surveillance technologies since 2010)

Rahul Patel
3 years ago
Rahul patel
8 years ago
In response to Ashok Malik’s editorial dated 19 Feb 2014 in TOI ‘Two Talibans and India’, and to the article above by Gopal Krishna:
Citizens of India have less to fear perhaps from any external threat to their lives than from the colossal threat posed by India’s own national ‘security’ apparatus. This highly privatized, corporatized, ‘foreignized’, criminalized, unreformed, unpunished, immunized, incestuous and greedy Titan has eaten into every pie of governance and economy. It is successfully putting every one of us under its 24 hour watch – while sparing members of The Inner Circle. Why have THEIR biometrics not been captured for the electronic ID/Aadhaar Card, or for opening of a bank account (something the new RBI Governor has been gradually enforcing)? Now you have the answer. The BIG answer. George Orwell’s 1984 lies round the corner – delayed by 30 years - not in any distant future. The circumstances leading up to it were created step by step by The (International) Inner Circle of Fabian Socialists in order to justify the creation of a Big Brother-Is-Watching-You One World Government. The matter is of an extremely serious and urgent nature and should be taken up immediately and collectively by all human rights activists/organizations – perhaps at the level of the Supreme Court (is there any organization that today is functioning democratically?)
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