Even Mahatma Gandhi was against ID cards
Moneylife Digital Team 04 October 2010

About a century ago, Gandhiji started the world famous 'Satyagraha' in order to oppose the identification scheme of the government in South Africa. Hundred years later, India is repeating a similar programme under the pretext of unique ID numbers

As the old saying goes, 'Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it'. It seems that both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and ultimately the Indian government have overlooked history and even the Mahatma's views while going ahead with the ambitious and expensive unique identification number (UIDN) programme.

Mahatma Gandhi or the erstwhile Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had started his historic 'Satyagraha' in South Africa by opposing the identification programme in that country.

On 22 August 1906, the South African government published a draft Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance. The Ordinance required all Indians in the Transvaal region of South Africa, eight years and above, to report to the Registrar of Asiatics and obtain, upon the submission of a complete set of fingerprints, a certificate which would then have to be produced upon demand.

The move proposed stiff penalties, including deportation, for Indians who failed to comply with the terms of the Ordinance.

Since the late nineteenth century, fingerprint identification methods have been used by police agencies around the world to identify suspected criminals as well as the victims of crime. Knowing the impact of the Ordinance and effective criminalisation of the entire community, Gandhi then decided to challenge it. Calling the Ordinance a 'Black Act' he mobilised around 3,000 Indians in Johannesburg who took an oath not to submit to a degrading and discriminatory piece of legislation. This was the first time the world witnessed 'Satyagraha' or a non-resistance movement that later become a phenomenon in India's freedom struggle.

(Watch the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNmJqRV7LOA).

Cut to 2010, when the Indian government has launched an identification programme, without even passing a Bill for the same. Even the draft National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill approved by the Cabinet is not without some serious issues. Most notably the UIDN would not be issued only to Indian citizens; instead, it would be issued to all residents. In other words, the bill may aid illegal migrants from neighbouring countries to become citizens.

This will help legitimise illegal immigrants. Already corrupt 'babus' happily provide any document from a ration card (public distribution card) to electricity and telephone bills to these illegal immigrants.

Also registrars like insurance companies and banks, would feed their data into the UIDAI database and so on. There are even some media reports which say that online service provider eBay is interested in collaborating with the UIDAI. If these reports are true, then the day is not far off when ordinary citizens will be bombarded with targeted marketing campaigns. The bigger threat is caste- and religion-based profiling.

Some state governments have announced that they plan to add their own parameters to the UIDN. The Orissa government has decided to include at least a dozen-odd specifications to the UID number, like ration card number, BPL/APL number (below poverty line/above poverty line), NREGS data (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme), driving license number, PAN number, photo I-card number, passport number, Kissan and credit card number, LPG consumer number, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana number (National Health Insurance Scheme), pension ID number and passbook number. This takes the UID dangerously beyond its stated scope.

This would leave the UIDAI database vulnerable to modification, alterations and so on. The huge cost of the UIDAI project, categorisation of people and particularly identity theft are some of the big issues. Even in the NREGA programme, the problem is not about issuing an identity for daily workers. It is the attendance at the end of the day marked by the supervisor that provides the workers their wages. Similarly, in PDS shops, it is not the problem of identification of the end-user. Most leakages in the PDS do not take place at the last mile as hypothesised by UIDAI; instead, it is the big corrupt babus and middlemen who are involved in siphoning grains before they reach the ration shop itself.

All the examples mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg - the non-sustainability of UIDN, but neither the Union government nor the highly qualified techies at UIDAI have time to take cognisance of these issues. Therefore, the old adage is correct in saying that if we forget history we are doomed to repeat it. Does this also mean that we need to go for another Satyagraha in order to save us, common citizens, from the identification ordeal?

1 decade ago
If anyone disagrees with UID than I would request those to give up their passport as it is also a identity document.
Replied to joemike comment 1 decade ago
Please do not miss the main point ofthis article as well as views. The objection raised for UID becoming another electoral id card. UID is lofted ideal was to identify each every INDIAN CITIZEN and NOT the refugees and illegal migrants who using our corrupt beaurocracy could get it. The objection is based on the fact that future govt goodies are going to doled out on the basis of these cards and every tax payer would be footing the bill.
It is an open secret India that each and every welfare scheme benefits the targeted mass only by 10% at the most and the rest goes to the ruling elites.That is why these cloloumns insist on accountability of the netas before and after election.
1 decade ago
Those who read the factual summary called Freedom at Midnight would not agree with your accolades on Mahatma. But credit does go to him in atleast unifying India as a single country from the monarchy of kings. But the suffering masses of to-day would be asking the question what difference. Kings have become netas and democracy is becoming a mobocracy. Aadhar should first start with our MPS where they have to provide details of his wealth and his family including the ones in Swiss banks. Unless corruption is weeded out Aadhar will only enrich our Netas with more wealth and more power.
Shadi Katyal
Replied to RNandakumar comment 1 decade ago
It is unfortunate that we have been so brain washed with Gandhi and his sacrifice to get partition of India bnot freedom but decapitation of India and you call it uniting the nation?
I would request all of you who wish to know real Gandhi to read Gandhi Churchill by Arthur Herman.
India was already united under Indian National congress hen Gandhi arrived and his first goal was to get Jinnah out and decapitate the nation while making fools of people that he was for unity.He was able to get Jinnah out and when defeated by Subhas Bose, he saw to it that congress committee does not work with him. History is there to read and learn but somehow we in India has only selective memories.
Regarding remarks about uniting India,what about division of India on linguistic basis which Gandhi accepted in 1927 to stay in power.Freedom at Midnight also has missed lot of Gandhi's misdeeds.
Except salt march did he take part in any so called Satyagrahas and where common man died. He was a very cunning and clever man.
Replied to Shadi Katyal comment 1 decade ago
Partition was demanded by Jinnah for seprate nation for muslims and for achiving his goal he gave orders of last level like killing of Hindus in muslim majority areas-what is wrong if Gandhiji opposed Jinnah-gandhiji has done fast unto death in KOLKATA to stop massacre of both communities-has any indian leader gone to fast unto death for stopping these riots-discrediting Gandhiji by people like you is not going to make any harm to you-becasue we are in just a half decade away from reality-and people like you try to divert realities and bend them to untruth-and i personally feel gandhiji has done good for Hindus by accepting partition -beacsue it has allowed Hindus to be in power who were crushed by Muslim rulers in past history-and Muslims are reaping fruits of seprate nation in form of pakistan in their own way which the world calls as a failed nation-
i admire gandhiji for whatever he has done and anything spelt against him shows just reservedness of the person who is trying to call himalayas as a tiny hill-
Ashok Sharma
1 decade ago
Based on my own experience of living a life like a keen observer, for over 30 years now i have acquired a fairly good understanding of How our Systems workand why the systems are so finely and cleverly corrupted, I hold a firm opinion that UID project shall be proven as one of the Biggest SCAM that any Government may seathly push forward to achieve its undefined ulterior and grey motives !

The most effective and most unchallenged form of control of the masses is when the population can not see through the hidden game. Now when people do not have a clue of what any whjy all this, then who is going to rebel about not being free
When they think they are !! To perfect thier corrupt Seats of Deception UID is being attempted to create an illusionthat people have free choice and this is the Biggest Catch here ! Once people Realise they really have no choice in the force and Agenda promoted under a banner of better Governance of our 80% happless poor society, the curtain shall close to enact sebsequebnt acts of the Drama pre conceived and already scripted..

The real objective of this scam project named Aadhaar UID is to exert a better control syswtem which So called largest Democracy has since long been perfecting to maintain its pre-eminemce under the facade of free choice better governance !

1 decade ago
Reason for historical Africa id was on racial ground and was sure against Hindusthanis. Current UID is similar to social security number. As a proud Hindusthani I will be happy if such criticizing topics are not floated to attract attention of those majority of citizens who go with the mob. Study the reason why this move has started and share with all.
1 decade ago
Let's stop criticizing anything and everything happening in this country. Just by providing UID to all residents, everyone will not become citizens. US gives Social Security numbers to all resident workers (L1,H1 visa included), that doesn't make everyone citizen of that country
shadi katyal
Replied to MD comment 1 decade ago
Why are we afraid to tell the TRUTH. Did you read the corruption for CGW? Do you wish the corruption to become of the biggest industry by not criticising.
A nation which is afraid to see the truth cannot progress. We need accountability.
Yes USA has very stringent Laws and nation is run on those LAWS but do we have any???
We dont beleive in it as taught by Gandhi and thus Bundhs,strikes,Nakabundi is the norm of life.
Progress can be made with open disussion by learning from each other and not facing the truth
Gajanan Mamidwar
1 decade ago
Preventing theft of data will be the biggest target.Personal data accessible to anybody will open a can of worms.
Bibek Kumar Anand
1 decade ago
Can't the money which is being misused in UIDIA be used in promoting mutual trust ?

Think in SAMPADAITE fashion !

SAMPATTIST attitude will make the world a suspecting place !

Suspicion is simply making this world a horrible place !

Bibek Kumar Anand
Convener "SAMPADA"
liju philip
1 decade ago
looks like moneylife is on a personal crusade against the UID. Using Gandhi's name to opposing the UID is a new low. We are reaping the crappy fruits of what we did by following Gandhi's swadeshi economic policies.

Let the man lie in peace.
Shadi Katyal
1 decade ago
One wonders why we even write such innate articles.Gandhi ID card reasons were not as of today's climate.
Beside he did make fool of the people and we still continue to remember it. Read his real trick about this and how he signed and got out pf jail and how a Pathan beat him to almost death.
There is a lot which our leaders are not willing us to know about the man whoes hand are full o9f blood of millions and is the true Father of Pakistan Nation. He landed in India not for independence but to .decapitate India.
Secondly this notion that he got us freedom is another mistake. British did not leave because of him but because of their own bankruptcy.
His Quit India movement was failure as 2-3 million Indians joined the armed forces and industry earned more than 3-5 Billion pounds.
British owed India 2 billion Pounds at end of war and the real cause of her departure and not Gandhi's satyagraha movement in which he never took part and let others dies or go to jail.
Replied to Shadi Katyal comment 1 decade ago
Looks like you being a ISI trained man who specialises in disinformation agenda-and telling white day lies-and creating a dark in broad day light-you really deserve NISAN E PAkisstan award
shadi katyal
Replied to Roopsingh comment 1 decade ago
Mr. singh, your writing makes no sense. Is the denial of the facts so deeply buried that you fail to accept the facts of history. This is our biggest problem that we are so brain washed with lies that we start calling names.
No for your guidance I like the millions of families sacrificed for the nation.
It is best to learn and do some research for TRUTH
1 decade ago
UIDAI project is so much centralised that any alteration by hackers or officers in control can make bigger harm then present model-after all we indians are highest corrupt people -so no doubt few people will use it as MINT for printing money by altering data because they will have centralised control-which is not possible in prsent model of states involved in issuing ration card or election card-this is biggest threat seems to me of this expensive project-and people sitting in power will black mail after access to this entire data-this is a threat to privacy of every citizen and MASS CRIMINALiSATION TREATMENT for every honest citizen and undue harrassment-
1 decade ago
I like your frank and fearless approach to issues. But I fail to understand why you are opposing UDAI. The only problem with this, as I can see, is that it is going to be issued to all people without verifying whether they are legal citizens of the country. Please focus on this problem and try to get it rectified. But instead of that, you are targeting this programme by citing Mahatma Gandhi. This is absurd.
Sanjay Karanth
Replied to B V KRISHNAN comment 1 decade ago
Well said, Mr. Krishnan. Let's have a balanced analysis of Aadhaar, its pros and cons. And lets not bring Mahatma Gandhi into this!
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