Historical Reasons Against UID//Aadhar project
Mrs Sonia Gandhi
National Advisory Council
Subject-Historical Reasons Against UID//Aadhar project
This is to place on record our deep sense of appreciation for National Advisory Council (NAC) which has reportedly disapproved the structural basis being laid out for future authoritarianism. Unmindful of massive opposition by citizens, the Union Cabinet cleared the introduction of the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 in Parliament on 24th September. This happened in a tearing hurry even as the NAC was examining the UID proposal. This was uncalled for and it provides robust grounds for scrutiny.
Not only that fearing the outcome of the NAC deliberations and its inferences, Nandan Nilekani avoided NAC to escape having to answer the questions about UID on 30th August, 2010. It appears that the chairperson of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has roped in Prime Minister to help him wriggle out by launching UID on 29th September in Maharashtra in order to present a fait accompli of sort to the NAC.
In such circumstances, it is indeed a relief to know that the NAC is opposed to UID//Aadhar project.
It is quite sad that both the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI Authority and PM’s Council are in such a great awe of a regressive idea that so far it has failed to examine the reasons of governments of US, Australia and UK to scrap similar projects. So much so that even as the Bill will be introduced in the Indian Parliament, the British Parliament will be scrapping it because the democratic mandate of UK citizens and all the democracies is against such an invasive project.
One Noble Prize winner too has underlined how it raises questions of personal liberty. Other world renowned social scientists have termed it as akin to allotting “prisoner numbers” to citizens. This is quite worrisome that in such a context our political leaders in general are so frozen in their passivity that they are not reaching out to sincerely address and respond to the gnawing concerns about a project that have fascist roots.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) reminds one of what happened from the period preceding Adolf Hitler's arrival to January 1933 when he occupied power, to Second World War and since then and International Business Machines (IBM)’s role with its punch card and card sorting technology. The way UID project is being bulldozed in the name of PDS, Education, Public Health, NREGA and now migrant workers is highly dubious.
Unique Identity (UID) Number is a rare project which has unleashed the concept of massively organised information as means of social control, a weapon of war, and for the victimisation of ethnic groups, minorities and political adversaries. It appears that Nilekani, the co-founder and former chief executive of Infosys Technologies Ltd, India's second largest software company, has misled the key functionaries of Government of India into believing that he is deeply concerned about reaching the poorest of the poor with a 16-digit card (4 numbers are hidden?) to liberate them from poverty.
This proposed UID legislation authorizes the creation of a centralized database of unique identification numbers that will be issued to every resident of India but has failed to provide for provisions that precludes abuse of such a database for invading citizens’ rights to privacy and freedom of choice by national and transnational corporations like Vedanta and IBM. The legislation poses one of gravest threat imaginable as far as citizens’ right is concerned. It will damage citizens’ sovereignty beyond repair and has the potential to cause holocaust like situation in future through profiling of minorities, political opponents and ethnic groups.
UID/Aadhar project gives a sense of déjà vu. It is the same path which IBM (International Business Machines), the world's largest technology company and the second most valuable global brand traversed for targeted asset confiscation, ghettoisation, deportation, and ultimately extermination with its punch card and card sorting system -- a precursor to the computer – that made the automation of human destruction possible. This is a matter of historical fact and not an opinion. Indeed in the words of historian Benedetto Croce, "All history is contemporary history" and the lessons from history present a compelling reason against the UID/Aadhar project.
Therefore, we urge you to recommend and encourage our government to abandon the UID/Aadhar project like the governments of UK, Australia and US have done to safeguard and honour the non-negotiable rights of citizens.
Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL)
Jawaharlal Nehru University Researchers Association (JNURA)
Note: Members of National Advisory Council include:
Prof M. S. Swaminathan
Dr Ram Dayal Munda
Dr. Narendra Jadhav
Prof. Pramod Tandon
Dr. Jean Dreze
Shri Madhav Gadgil
Shri Naresh C. Saxena
Dr. A. K. Shiva Kumar
Shri Deep Joshi
Ms. Anu Aga
Ms. Farah Naqvi
Shri Harsh Mander
Ms Mirai Chatterjee
with Smt. Sonia Gandhi as Chairperson, National Advisory Council