Has Nilekani followed Pakistan’s NADRA in creating, enforcing Aadhaar? –Part 33

Is it just a coincidence that Tariq Malik of NADRA and Nandan Nilekani received awards at Milan ID World Congress for their similar work? Is Nilekani simply following the footprints of Malik in creating, enforcing biometric-based ID?

Electronics has become a fundamental political problem.
                                                                       -Dr Ernesto “Che” Guevara in 1962

tujhe zibah karne kee khushi, mujhe marne ka shauk,
(You are happy to kill, I am fond of dying)
meri bhee marzi wahi hai, jo mere saiyaad ki hai
(My desire is the same as that of my hunter)
                                                   -Jail Note Book of Shahid-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, 1929

jin ko tha zaban pe naaz (Those proud of their eloquence)
chup hain wo zaban daraaz (Their tongues are completely silent)
chain hai samaaj me (There is tranquility in society)
bemisaal fark hai (This is an unexampled difference)
kal me aur aaj me (Between yesterday and today)
apne kharch par hain qaid (imprisoned at their own expense)
log kaid tere raaj me (people under your rule)

                                                   -Habib Jalib, a revolutionary poet from Pakistan

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has exposed the reluctance of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to share its correspondence including the letter of resignation of Nandan Nilekani from the post of chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) under the Planning Commission. Nilekani is reported to have submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister on 13 March 2014. After the Right to Information (RTI) application in this regard was transferred by the PMO, the Commission in a letter dated 15 April 2014 responded saying that the RTI application "has been inadvertently transferred" to it and marked a copy of its reply to the Planning Commission.

It is apparent that PMO does not wish the resignation letter and the correspondence to be available in the public domain prior to the elections. It deliberately transferred the RTI application to the Election Commission as part of its delaying tactics and perhaps to save the Indian National Congress-led government from possible embarrassment.  

For instance, how is engagement with Pakistani Ministry of Interior’s National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) and Election Commission of Pakistan with French corporate conglomerate, Safran Group in India’s national interest? Notably, UIDAI’s awarding of contract to Safran Group links it to Home Ministry’s Registrar General of Citizen Registration, Census and the Election Commission.

The core issue here is the sensitivity of the exchange of letters between key authorities in the sensitive matter of electronic and biometric identification of Indians through Aadhaar, National Population Register (NPR), electoral database and Census database.

In effect, all these databases will be governed by Information Technology (IT) Act.
Notably, in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the Parliament passed eight Bills in 17 minutes without any debate on 23 December 2008. These Bills included the IT (Amendment) Act, 2008. Its absurdity came to light when the misuse of section 66 (A) and section 79 got widely reported. Subsequent amendments and rules have made the IT Act worse, which the new government will have to look into.    

If one looks for parallels in regard to emergence of biometric voter ID cards on India’s horizon, one finds that the Indian government is following the path paved by Government of Ghana, which conducted an election using biometric voter verification and registration systems in 2012. The Electoral Commission of Ghana had made a functional biometric verification machine a pre-condition for voting at all the polling stations. With this Ghana joined those countries, which use a biometric voters’ register for its election. These countries include Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Soloman Islands, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Biometric profiling is likely to be introduced in Bhutan too in the next parliamentary elections. It has been reported that biometric finger print scanners were used during the National Council Election in Bhutan’s two polling stations at Dewachen and Samtse High School in 2013.

Sierra Leone's National Electoral Commission (NEC) conducted the polls in November 2012 using biometric voter registration with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Not surprisingly, Bangladesh Election Commission upgraded its biometric identification and voter registration system and consolidated over hundreds of different databases into a single database running on Oracle Exadata Database Machine X2-2. Was there a domestic demand for centralisation of the database?

Notably, NADRA developed and delivered Nigerian national identity card system for issuance of Smart ID cards to citizens.

In Nepal, the Election Commission introduced voter registration programme based biometric profiling and conducted its elections in November 2013. UNDP had provided strategic technical and operational assistance to the Election Commission in planning and conducting the election through its Electoral Support Project (ESP).  The European Union, UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), Denmark and Norway provided financial support to this project.

Coincidentally, the Election Commission of Pakistan is introducing a biometric system for the elections. NADRA has implemented the Multi-Biometric National Identity Card & Multi-Biometric e-Passport solutions for Pakistan, Passport Issuing System for Kenya, Bangladesh High Security Driver’s License, and Civil Registration Management System for Sudan.

Notably, NADRA has won Sri Lanka ID Card project involving data collection of all eligible citizens’ biometric, biographic and digitization and creating a National Persons Registry. It has developed Biometric Refugee Registration System for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Bank’s Poverty Score Card/System.

Besides this “NADRA has taken proactive initiative by developing electronic voting machine (EVM) solution proposed to be placed on all polling stations across the country.”
Do Indian voters need learn to subject themselves to biometric identification by transnational intelligence companies like Pakistan’s 86 million registered voters?

It may recalled that 23 April 2010, the World Bank had launched its eTransform Initiative by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with France and South Korea besides transnational companies like L-1 Identity Solutions, IBM, Gemalto, Pfizer and others. It was launched in the presence of Ministers of Finance and Communications from many developing countries. The World Bank is currently funding 14 projects related to e-government and e-ID around the world. These project are unfolding under the influence of international finance and not because there was a domestic need for it.  

Let us ponder over few questions:-

Is it a coincident that the task of Tariq Malik of NADRA, Pakistan and those of Nandan Nilekani, C Chandramouli and VS Sampath appear similar?

Is it also a coincidence that Tariq Malik of NADRA and Nilekani were awarded in Milan, Italy based ID World Congress for their similar work? Nilekani is simply following the footprints of Malik.

Isn’t there a design behind persuading and compelling developing countries to biometrically profile their citizens?  

Is it too early to infer that international bankers, UN agencies and western military alliances wish to create profiles in their biometric and electronic database for coercive use of social control measures?  

Is it not true that uninformed citizens, parliamentarians and gullible government agencies are too eager to be profiled and tracked through an online database?

Would freedom fighters and framer of constitution of India have approved of mass surveillance by any national or transnational agency?

In the US, the budget for intelligence gathering in 2013 was $52.6 billion. Out of which $10.8 billion went to the National Security Agency (NSA). It is about $167 per person. Do Indians know the budget allocation for their intelligence? Why have they been kept in dark about it?

Aren’t allocations for UIDAI, NPR and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) part of it?

Is it not clear that UN agencies, World Bank Group, transnational intelligence companies and military alliances are working in tandem to create the bio-electronic database of Indians as per their pre-determined design? Is this design structured to safeguard the interest of present and future generation of Indians?      

The next government in India has the task of examining these questions and making the budget allocation for intelligence agencies public and open to legislative scrutiny. If they don’t do it, how else would the new regime be deemed different from the old one and it must explain how national security of US, France and their allies is different from that India.

Even after 52 years while India continues to maintain secrecy about its acts of omission and commission in 1962 war with China. But by now it is clear that after the defeat it felt the need of a strong indigenous electronics base for security. The Department of Electronics was set on 26 June 1970 directly under the Prime Minister in the era in which New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) was still being sought to contest one way flow of information by western media that distorted realities facing the world. It is germane to recollect the historical context in which world’s biggest electronic and biometric database of Indians is being created. Having failed in getting NWICO so far, unless the advocates of NWICO politically challenge the creation of one imperial online database in a robust manner, 21st century will unleash a new great game for takeover of national assets.     

Meanwhile, it appears to be too much to expect that the lame duck PMO will share its  correspondence with Nilekani who was mandated to create world biggest biometric database “as per approved strategy” along with Ministry of Home Affair (MHA)’s NPR before May 2016. PMO’s notoriety in misplacing sensitive files has given birth to understandable apprehensions in this regard. Hopefully, the new government will ensure that the PMO provides these relevant files.

The authoritarianism of electronic and biometric web is emerging as intrusive extensions of transnational powers due to complicity without any political scrutiny in the country.

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

Aadhaar & database risks: Will India evaporate to become nobody in our life time? –Part XXIX


How BJP’s Yashwant Sinha is wrong about ‘biometric’ National Population Register –Part XXX


Aadhaar: The lies of Nilekani and Congress over biometric profiling –Part XXXI


Why the PMO is hiding behind Election Commission on Nilekani’s resignation? -Part XXXII

Who allowed merger of voter database with the illegal Aadhaar? Part XXXIII

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



Veebee India
7 years ago
The whole affair mass profiling is going to be implemented regardless of its consequences - people will react if mentioned that Holy Bible last book Revelations 13:17 just mentions it prophetically being the order of the day and satanic subjugation i. e. human system being systemetically hacked.
Veebee India
7 years ago
The whole affair mass profiling is going to be implemented regardless of its consequences - people will react if mentioned that Holy Bible last book Revelations 13:17 just mentions it prophetically being the order of the day and satanic subjugation i. e. human system being systemetically hacked.
Raja M Ali Saleem
10 years ago
I agree with the author's apprehensions about the usage of bio-metric data for surveillance purposes. Governments certainly use everything available to them for their own benefit. Moreover, when this data is available and stored, it is also not unthinkable that USA and other countries get access to this data, with or without approval of the Indian government. However, this potential of misuse of data has to be balanced against its benefits. For example, one of the major problems of many schemes that focus on poverty is that funds do not reach the target audiences. Due to the lack of data, middle men (and they are generally all men)manipulate the system and pocket majority of the funds, while the intended beneficiaries wait and die. Bio-metric data systems have been used for better targeting poor in other developing countries. Certainly, India needs to target its poverty-reduction programs better. Therefore, rather than posting conspiracy theories linking NADRA's Tariq Malik with Nandan, it would be better for the author to debate this issue and show how India can balance the advantages and disadvantages of bio-metric data collection.
Theresa Perkins
10 years ago
Tariq Malik is the brain behind NADRA's take off. A young IT Strategist, blue eyed boy and a confidant of charismatic Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto inspired by her dream, returned from USA and transformed her vision into reality by cutting the intermediaries (Pakistani Bureaucracy) short. He made innovative use of biometric and information technologies to empower women, rollout social security, financial inclusion programs and gave new meaning to cash disbursement mechanism in disasters. It is very obvious that Nadan was following his steps, as Malik became most popular tech evangelist in 2013.
Replied to Theresa Perkins comment 10 years ago
Just adding on to Tariq Malik's achievements at NADRA, that guy has designed an electronic voting system based on bio metrics that can make online voting possible and eliminate ghost and duplicate voter from the system and that's one of reason he was removed/forced resign by current Pak government. But author here is blindsided by hatred against UID/NPR that they don't mind using anything against UID and it's stakeholders...great going ML but people are also getting smarter
Replied to Sandeep comment 10 years ago
Sandeep, kindly do provide a of improvements in Pakistan because biometric identification has been introduced in Pakistan. Drone attacks started happening prior to its implementation or after that?

In an interview, Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks informed Imran Khan about the grave act of omission and commission. Assange said, “…we discovered a cable in 2009 from the Islamabad Embassy. Prime minister Gilani and interior minister Malik went into the (US) embassy and offered to share National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) – and NADRA is the national data and registration agency database. The system is currently connected through passport data but the government of Pakistan is adding voice and facial recognition capability and has installed a pilot biometric system as the Chennai border crossing, where 30,000 to 35,000 people cross each day. This NADRA system is the voting record system for all voters in Pakistan. A front company was set up in the United Kingdom – International Identity Services, which was hired as the consultants for NADRA to squirrel out the NADRA data for all of Pakistan. What do you think about that? Is that a…? It seems to me that that is a theft of some national treasure of Pakistan, the entire Pakistani database registry of its people.” The interview is available here-http://worldtomorrow.wikileaks.org/episo....
Replied to krishna comment 10 years ago
Krishna, just saw your message today only..

it's better you stick to your argument of comparing technocrats and don't go into political structure of countries. You're comparing Pakistan that has hardly seen one democratic/civilian exchange of power with a country(India) going for 16th time for such occasion...General election 2104. It was first time in Pakistan history that any civilian government completed full term and handed over power to 2nd elected party. It's miracle for them, ask any Pakistani..

Drone strike in Pakistan has nothing to do with biomertics of individual by NADRA.

For your Satisfaction here are some listed benefit of NADRA-
- One benefit you have yourself admitted about NADRA based voting record which eliminates the ghost/duplicate/ineligible voters from list
- During last 2011 general election it provided instant SMS based verification of individuals Vote registration so no missing names in voting list as happened in Mumbai in India
- It provided instant SMS based information about location of your polling booth

- going forward no more proxy voting once NADRA based voting mechanism is in place

- possibility of online voting in future

Krishna, channelize your energy for a better cause and embrace technology. Common man has nothing to fear from UID/NPR unless you're on a payroll of some aadhaar opposing so called NGO benefiting from ghost/fake/middlemen beneficiary in government system.

Don't act like Mulayam singh Yadav who said in 2007 assembly election he would ban computer from government system to give employment to people because computer was more efficient and killing the manual jobs.

Then same guy with his son Akhilesh comes to power in 2012 election on a promise to give tablet to mertic pass and laptop to +2 pass.

Every developed country has an unique identity system to track wrong doers and people stick to the laws because they have a fear of getting caught red handed if they commit anything wrong.

Just a current example of Sahara, sitting in jail for over 2 month claiming to have collected money from some 3 crore people. Had every beneficiary had a UID/NPR# before investing in any such scheme it would have been way too easy to identify each and every one and return back their money but now no one know how many of them are ghost or fake or proxy beneficiaries to hide black money
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