Narendra Modi taken for a ride on Biometric UID & Yashwant Sinha on NPR, Cash Transfer: Is it collusion or gullibility?


Press Note

Narendra Modi taken for a ride on Biometric UID & Sinha on NPR, Cash Transfer: Is it collusion or gullibility?
It was reported on October 6, 20111 that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi wrote to the Prime Minister questioning the need for National Population Register (NPR) by Registrar General of India & Census Commissioner, Union Ministry of Home Affairs. Gujarat stopped collection of biometric data for creation of the NPR.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Modi raised objections over both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which is creating Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar Number and Registrar General of India, which is creating the NPR, collecting biometric data.
In his letter to Manmohan Singh, Modi wrote, “there is no mention of capturing biometrics in the Citizenship Act or Citizenship Rules 2009”. He added, “In the absence of any provision in the Citizenship Act, 1955, or rules for capturing biometrics, it is difficult to appreciate how the capture of biometrics is a statutory requirement. Photography and biometrics is only mentioned in the Manual of Instructions for filling up the NPR household schedule and even in that there is no mention of capturing the Iris”.
After Gujarat stopped collection of biometric data, the then Union Minister of Home Affairs, P Chidambaram sent a letter to Modi in August 2011 pointing out that creation of the NPR was a “statutory requirement” under the Citizenship Act, 1955, and “once initialized, has to be necessarily completed”. The Union Minister of Home Affairs had also requested the CM to instruct state government officers to cooperate in creation of the NPR.
This was when the entire media, the citizens and the political class was hoodwinked into believing that there was a rift between Nandan Manohar Nilekani’s UIDAI under Planning Commission and Dr C Chandramouli’s NPR under Union Minsitry of Home Affairs.
It appears that in order to reveal Modi chose to side with UIDAI in an apparent rebuff to Chidambaram. Modi kicked off UID/Adhaar project in Gujarat on May 1, 2012 by giving his biometric information for his UID number and enrolled under the UIDAI project. Strangely, Modi did not object to his biometric identification under UID as he did with regard to NPR. Modi did so despite the fact that Yashwant Sinha headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance has rejected the UID project and the UID Bill in its report to the Parliament on December 13, 2012. However, it may be noted that one sentence of its report appears to endorse biometric NPR. Is it a case of Sinha trying to side with Chidambaram? It appears that Modi has been taken for ride with regard to the UID/Aadhaar and Sinha with regard to NPR as they failed to see through the strategy.     
Now it is clear that the staged rift that was created between Home Ministry and Planning Commission’ UIDAI on UID and NPR was motivated and was meant to take legislatures, citizens, States and media for a ride.
The Terms of Reference No. 8 of Planning Commission’s notification dated January 28, 2009 that created Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in pursuance of the 4th meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers, states, “Take necessary steps to ensure collation of NPR and UID (as per approved strategy)”.
The rift that led to division of work between UIDAI and Home Ministry's Registrar General of India & Census Commissioner and the movement of Shri P Chidambaram from Home Ministry to Finance Ministry appears to be as per the approved strategy. The strategy document prepared by WIPRO Ltd is missing.

As per the communication from UIDAI dated July 2, 2010 which states that “The decision for appointment of Chairman was conveyed by the Cabinet Secretariat” The Planning Commission’s notification (which was to be published in the Gazette of India) dated July 2, 2009 reveals that “the competent authority has approved the appointment of Shri Nandan Nilekani, Co-Chairman, INFOSYS as Chairperson, Unique Identification Authority of India, in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister. Shri Nilekani will hold appointment for an initial tenure of five years”. The notification shows that a copy was marked to Shri Nandan Nilekani, CEO, President & MD, Infosys Technologies Ltd., Corporate Headquarters besides the Secretary Generals of Secretariats of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. This was before the UID Bill (The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010) was introduced in the Parliament and rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in its report to the Parliament in December 13, 2011.

It is noteworthy that National Population Register (NPR) for Multi-purpose Identity Card (MNIC), Unique Identification /Aadhaar Number, UID/Aadhaar-Enabled E-payment system, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), DNA Profiling, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), National Information Utility, Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, Electronic Services Delivery Law, amendments in Information Technology Act, Land Titling Bill, unified E payment infrastructure etc are related and are in line with the policy of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and World Bank's eTransform Initiative. None of the above programmes and subordinate legislations have legislative mandate.

Given a choice between leakage or theft of citizens database of sensitive personal information and leakage of public distribution system and delivery social welfare services what would be be chosen and which can be plugged more easily. Recently, database of Greece has been stolen as per Reuters and the database of Pakistan and Egypt has been handed over to US as per the diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks.

In UID/Aadhaar Enrolment Form, Column 9 reads: "I have no objection to the UIDAI sharing information provided by me to the UIDAI with agencies engaged in delivery of welfare services". In front of this column, there is a "Yes" and "No" option. Irrespective of what option residents of India exercise (which is being ticked automatically by the enroler in any case as of now), the fact is this information being collected for creating Centralized Identity Data Register (CIDR) and NPR (column 7) will be handed over to biometric technology companies like Satyam Computer Services/Sagem Morpho, L1 Identities Solutions and Accenture Services of all shades who have already been awarded contracts. The UID/Aadhaar Form is attached.

A letter written to Election Commission of Indi and Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance that has rejected the UID Bill that underlined the ILLEGALITY OF MERGER OF UID-AADHAAR-NPR LINKED CONTRACTS, VOTER ID, EVM, CASH TRANSFER ETC was shared with the media persons. But the way BJP has reacted to UID based cash transfer in a very procedural manner instead of engage with it in a substantive way appears to signal witting or unwitting collusion between both BJP and Congress with regard to UID and NPR otherwise how is it that all the NDA and UPA ruled States are implementing UID and NPR quite obediently. The non-NDA and non-UPA parties have failed to apply their legal minds to it the way they did in the case of National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). So far they have failed to appreciate that UID, NPR, NCTC and National Intelligence Grid is linked and is being linked with Census and Voters’ database.     

Unmindful of threat to federalism most States including Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal  have signed a MoU with UIDAI. Surprisingly, the States which were quite vocal about threats to federal structure from Union Home Ministry‘s National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) that integrates 21 sets of databases have been caught unawares by the creation of UID’s Centralized Identities Data Register (CIDR) disregarding the fact that Planning Commission’s CIDR and Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR) is going to be converged.

It is indeed unfortunate that the State Governments and Central Government has chosen to listen to consultants who are more interested in making a quick sale of their biometric, identification and surveillance technology products. The ways in which compromised biometrics can be of inordinate danger to the person whose biometrics have been stolen due to mishandling or improper understanding of the ways in which digital systems can be misused and abused has been visualized in an article authored by a pioneer in biometric identity systems merits attention. The same has been published in The New York Times on November 10, 2012.

UID- Aadhaar based cash transfer scheme anti poor. The claim that Central Government’s UID -Aadhaar will result in the savings is suspect unless Prime Minister’s Office and Planning Commission study revealed the total budget UID-Aadhaar project. The Prime Minister’s Office must declare its total budget Aadhaar project before disbursing cash transfer through UIDAI platform for all major government schemes.

UID-Aadhaar based cash transfer is being started off when bank accounts still don't exist for everyone, especially those who the government claims to want to target; when the institution of banking correspondents has been tried and has admittedly failed; when the proof of concepts on biometrics has demonstrated that it is still an under-tested technology; when even the projected coverage of the aadhaar is half the population (600 million) by 2014. The government is impatient to shift to cash transfer as is being recommended by intergovernmental banking agencies such as the World Bank; and the evidence of probable failure is not to be heeded in this haste. The Bank’s paper dated October 2012 reveals that cash transfer and vote purchase is linked.

A "Strategic Vision on the UIDAI Project" was prepared and submitted to this Committee by M/S Wipro Ltd (Consultant for the design phase and program management phase of the Pilot UIDAI project). It envisaged the close linkage that the UIDAI would have to the electoral database. The Committee also appreciated the need of a UIDAI Authority to be created by an executive order under the aegis of the Planning Commission to ensure a pan-departmental and neutral identity for the authority and at the same time enable a focused approach to attaining the goals set for the XI Plan. The Seventh Meeting of the Process Committee on 30 August 2007 decided to furnish to the Planning commission a detailed proposal based on the resource model for seeking its "in principle" approval.  At the same time, the Registrar General of India was engaged in the creation of the National Population Register and issuance of Multi-purpose National Identity Cards to citizens of India. Reference: http://uidai.gov.in/about-uidai.html

It is noteworthy that Election Commission’s website carries a power point presentation that concludes by stating ‘Makes us UID ready’. It has come to light that Union Home Ministry has sought a proposal from the Election Commission of India and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), will ensure that UID-Aadhaar does not duplicate the data that is collected and used by the Election Commission. Dr S Y Quraishi as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) revealed to a newspaper that, “With the UID project already completing the biometric process under its umbrella, by scanning fingerprints and retina scan, we have approached the Centre to merge the Election ID cards with UID.” He added, “We will have the unique identification numbers provided by the UID printed on the election IDs…With over 750 million people registered with the EC, we have the largest data base to help the UID project.” It may be noted that the Nilekani had approached the Election Commission for accessing their data base and voters list for preparing the UID database.

It is quite disturbing that the Parliament has not been informed so far about the ongoing merger of UID, NPR and electoral database when it examined the UID Bill.  This constitutes commission of a series of illegalities and acts of unwarranted subordinate legislation.

It has come to light that head of UIDAI was given ID Limelight Award at the ID WORLD International Congress in Italy. This year the 10th edition of the ID WORLD International Congress is planned in Milan, Italy during November 2-4. The key sponsors of Congress include Morpho (Safran group), a French multinational corporation specializing in ID credentials solutions incorporating biometrics application in passports, visas, ID documents, health and social benefits, elections, etc. Its subsidiary, Sagem Morpho Security Pvt. Ltd has been awarded contract for the purchase of Biometric Authentication Devices on February 2, 2011 by the UIDAI.

Earlier, on July 30, 2010, in a joint press release, it was announced that “the Mahindra Satyam and Morpho led consortium has been selected as one of the key partners to implement and deliver the Aadhaar program by UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India).” This means that at least two contracts have been awarded to the French conglomerate led consortium.  Is it a coincidence that Morpho (Safran group) sponsored the award to Chairman, UIDAI and the former got a contract from the latter?

Incidentally, Nilekani was given the award at the ID WORLD International Congress in 2010 held in Milan from November 16 to 18, 2010. One of the two Platinum Sponsors was Morpho (Safran group), a French high-technology company with three core businesses: Aerospace, Defense and Security.  Coincidentally, this Global Summit on Automatic Identification in 2009 had awarded Tariq Malik, Deputy Chairman of Islamabad based National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) too for implementing UID project in Pakistan.

Nilekani was given the award "For being the force behind a transformational project ID project in India...and "to provide identification cards for each resident across the country and would be
used primarily as the basis for efficient delivery of welfare services. It would also act as a tool for effective monitoring of various programs and schemes of the Government."  Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) contends that there is a conflict of interest and it appears to be an act done in lieu of the contract.

It may been noted that UIDAI awarded contracts to three companies namely, Satyam Computer Services Ltd. (Mahindra Satyam), as part of a “Morpho led consortium”, L1 Identity Solutions Operating Company and Accenture Services Pvt. Ltd of USA for the “Implementation of Biometric Solution for UIDAI” on July 30, 2010.

It is alarming to note that Davinder Kumar, Deputy Director General, UIDAI will have residents/ citizens of India believe that the three transnational biometric technology companies working with foreign intelligence agencies namely:1) Mahindra Satyam Computer Services/Sagem Morpho, 2) L1 Identities Solutions and 3) Accenture Services who have been awarded contracts by UIDAI that “There are no  means to verify whether the said companies are of US origin or not” in a reply to Right to Information (RTI) application dated 21st July, 2011. This is quite a stark act of omission and commission that is likely to put residents of India under surveillance using delivery of public services as fish bait forever. The RTI reply is attached. Didn’t Nilekani know the country of origin of the award and their sponsors who were awarded contract by UIDAI prior to taking the award?
UIDAI officials like Nilekani and Davinder Kumar the “means to verify” the country of the origin of three companies in questions.  The first company Morpho’s website is
http://www.morpho.com/qui-sommes-nous/implantations-internationales/morpho-en-inde/?lang=en

It Press Release at http://www.morpho.com/evenements-et-actualites-348/presse/mahindra-satyam-and-morpho-selected-to-deliver-india-s-next-generation-unique-identification-number-program?lang=en reveal its partnership with Mahindra Satyam. Its parent company’s website is www.safran-group.com

The second company, L1 Identities Solutions is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S website and its press releases at http://ir.l1id.com/releases.cfm?header=news reveal that the company received $24.5 Million in Purchase Orders in the Initial Phase of India's Unique Identification Number Program for Certified Agile TP(TM) Fingerprint Slap Devices and Mobile-Eyes(TM) Iris Cameras. http://ir.l1id.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=509971). Robert V. LaPenta, Chairman, President and CEO of L-1 Identity Solutions said, “We are encouraged by the strong demand we have seen in the first phase of this program for our state-of-the-art fingerprint and iris products. Our devices are receiving high marks from our customers and we believe a large number of L-1 live scans and iris cameras will continue to be ordered throughout the enrollment phase." This was on September 22, 2010.

On July 19, 2011, L-1 Identity Solutions and Safran, Paris announced that in connection with the pending acquisition of L-1 by Safran, the parties have reached a final agreement on the terms of a definitive mitigation agreement with the United States government. L-1 and Safran were notified by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) on July 19, 2011 that the investigation of the merger transaction is complete and that there are no unresolved national security concerns with respect to the transaction. With CFIUS approval for the merger, and having satisfied all other conditions required prior to closing, the parties intend to complete the merger transaction within the next five business days. Robert V. LaPenta, Chairman, President and CEO of L-1 Identity Solutions said, "The combination of L-1 and Safran Morpho with our complementary technologies, markets and promising synergies will result in the leading worldwide-wide provider of identity solutions today and into the future."

As a consequence of Safran’s purchase of L-1 Identity Solutions, the de-duplication contracts of UIDAI’s CIDR and Home Ministry’s NPR which was given to two companies on July 30, 2010, both contracts are with one company now.
It seems to be a surveillance movement based on global ID card. Commenting on the merger of the two biometric technology companies, Mark Lerner, the author of the book “Your Body is Your ID” says, “Safran is a French company, 30% owned by the French government”. Safran has a 40 year partnership with China in the aerospace and the security sectors too.

The third company, Accenture, a US company headquartered in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. It won US Department of Homeland Security’s contract for five years to design and implement the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) program based on biometric technology for checking identities of foreigners visiting USA.  The contract includes five base years plus five option years mandated by U.S. Congress for Smart Border Alliance project.  It is one of the main privatized gatekeepers of US borders.
Now will UIDAI and Home Ministry explain whether or not they blundered in giving contracts to these above mentioned companies? Feigning ignorance about their country of origin is not a pardonable act for sure.

At a lecture on November 23, 2012 UIDAI Chairperson talked about a gigantic naming ceremony underway-mankind’s biggest biometric database ever and ominously stated that if you do not have the Aadhaar card you will not get the right to rights. UID is like a financial address for the people. The question is if Aadhaar card is only an identifier of residents of India how does it accord to itself an inherent right to approve or disapprove rights of citizens to have rights? He mentioned the October 2012 report of the Report of the Justice A P Shah headed Group of Experts on Privacy but ignored the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and Statement of Concern on UID that Justice Shah had co-signed. When UIDAI Chairperson acknowledged that privacy is larger than Aadhaar and says that legal framework will even out the design risks, he took the audience for ride because while the legal framework for both the UID and Privacy is absent the implementation of UID and NPR is unfolding illegally and illegitimately.

It has been noted that the name Aadhaar is linked to the NGO of Nilekani that worked in the matter of Bangalore Agenda Task Force from 1999 to 2004.

Prime Minister is putting the cart before the horse, how does Privacy Bill make sense when privacy of citizens is already violated through UID related tracking and profiling system being implemented.

Parliament and citizens have not been informed so far about the ongoing merger of UID, NPR and electoral database when it examined the UID Bill.  This constitutes commission of a series of illegalities and acts of unwarranted subordinate legislation.

Planning Commission’s claim of Rs 1, 10, 000 crore of savings from unique identification (UID)-Aadhaar and the Parliamentary Committee’s Report on UID/Aadhaar Bill submitted to the Parliament which found the UID-Aadhaar scheme questionable on several counts including the fact that it is irrational to claim savings without disclosing the total budget of the UID and UID related projects. The budgetary allocation for UIDAI is acting like a sink for public money. All claims of benefits are suspect as long as total cost is presented to the Parliament and citizens.

In the face of such assault on Parliament’s prerogative, State’s autonomy, citizens’ rights and the emergence of a regime that is making legislatures subservient to database and data mining companies, the urgent intervention of the PSC, Parliament, States, political parties and citizens cannot be postponed anymore.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL),
New Delhi, Mb: 9818089660, E-mail: krishna1715@gmail.com

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