Now, glasses that block facial-recognition software

February 1, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Now, glasses that block facial-recognition software

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/personal-tech/computing/Now-glasses-that-block-facial-recognition-software/articleshow/18150037.cms?

Now, glasses that block facial-recognition software
IANS | Jan 23, 2013, 05.52 PM IST

A newly-designed pair of glasses dubbed “privacy visor” can reportedly thwart hidden cameras using facial-recognition software

LONDON: A newly-designed pair of glasses dubbed “privacy visor” can reportedly thwart hidden cameras using facial-recognition software, BBC reported.

The prototype spectacles have been designed by scientists at Tokyo’s National Institute of Informatics.

The glasses are equipped with a near-infrared light source that “confuses” the software without affecting vision.

Law enforcers, shops and social networks are increasingly using facial-recognition software.

“As a result of developments in facial recognition technology in Google images, Facebook etc and the popularisation of portable terminals that append photos with photographic information… essential measures for preventing the invasion of privacy caused by photographs taken in secret and unintentional capture in camera images is now required,” said university professor Isao Echizen.

Echizen said the glasses, which connect to a pocket power supply, would be reasonably priced, but there are some simpler alternatives.

According to an online guide by hacker group Anonymous, heavy make-up or a mask will also work, as will tilting your head at a 15-degree angle, which fools the software into thinking you do not have a face.

BBC said that in November, it emerged some shop mannequins in Italy were collecting data on shoppers using facial-recognition software.

The EyeSee mannequin logs the age, gender and race of passers-by through a camera hidden behind one eye.

Don’t make PF hinge on Aadhaar: Trade unions

February 1, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Don’t make PF hinge on Aadhaar: Trade unions

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Don-t-make-PF-hinge-on-Aadhaar-Trade-unions/Article1-999341.aspx

Don’t make PF hinge on Aadhaar: Trade unions
Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 24, 2013

Central trade unions have slammed a move by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation to make Aadhaar mandatory for opening new PF accounts and continuing existing ones. The Unique Identification Authority of India has also said that the 14-digit number should be optional till the entire country is covered.

The EPFO, which manages the PF accounts of employees in organised employment, had earlier this week issued an order that makes Aadhaar numbers compulsory for new employees joining the formal sector from March 1, 2013, to open EPF accounts. Employees with existing EPF accounts should submit their Aadhaar numbers by June 30, 2013, the circular states. As of now, there are over six crore existing accounts with EPF.

“Such an order is absurd, and given the status of Aadhaar enrolment across the country, totally impractical. We oppose any such move by the EPFO,” said DL Sachdeva, AITUC national secretary and member, Central Board of Trustees — the governing body of EPF.

Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the biggest union, also said it opposes the order. “We are against linking it to Aadhaar. We will take up the issue in the CBT meet next month,” Girish Awasthi, ex-president BMS and a CBT member, said.

EPF officials said the move is aimed at streamlining account management, transfers and claims disbursals. Analysts, however, say it will cause many difficulties.

“Making Aadhaar mandatory would be erroneous till a saturation stage is reached. Lack of Aadhaar should not deny anyone any service,” a senior official said.

Only 30 crore of the population has been registered till now, and most of them are in non-formal employment.

Don’t make PF hinge on Aadhaar: Trade unions

February 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Don’t make PF hinge on Aadhaar: Trade unions

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Don-t-make-PF-hinge-on-Aadhaar-Trade-unions/Article1-999341.aspx

Don’t make PF hinge on Aadhaar: Trade unions
Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 24, 2013

Central trade unions have slammed a move by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation to make Aadhaar mandatory for opening new PF accounts and continuing existing ones. The Unique Identification Authority of India has also said that the 14-digit number should be optional till the entire country

is covered.

The EPFO, which manages the PF accounts of employees in organised employment, had earlier this week issued an order that makes Aadhaar numbers compulsory for new employees joining the formal sector from March 1, 2013, to open EPF accounts. Employees with existing EPF accounts should submit their Aadhaar numbers by June 30, 2013, the circular states. As of now, there are over six crore existing accounts with EPF.

“Such an order is absurd, and given the status of Aadhaar enrolment across the country, totally impractical. We oppose any such move by the EPFO,” said DL Sachdeva, AITUC national secretary and member, Central Board of Trustees — the governing body of EPF.

Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the biggest union, also said it opposes the order. “We are against linking it to Aadhaar. We will take up the issue in the CBT meet next month,” Girish Awasthi, ex-president BMS and a CBT member, said.

EPF officials said the move is aimed at streamlining account management, transfers and claims disbursals. Analysts, however, say it will cause many difficulties.

“Making Aadhaar mandatory would be erroneous till a saturation stage is reached. Lack of Aadhaar should not deny anyone any service,” a senior official said.

Only 30 crore of the population has been registered till now, and most of them are in non-formal employment.

Report of the Expert Group to Recommend the Detailed Methodology for the Identification of Families Living Below Poverty Line in the Urban Areas

February 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Posted in Policy, Public Documents | Comments Off on Report of the Expert Group to Recommend the Detailed Methodology for the Identification of Families Living Below Poverty Line in the Urban Areas

Report of the Expert Group to Recommend the Detailed Methodology for the Identification of Families Living Below Poverty Line in the Urban Areas

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Unions Oppose EPFO’s Move to Make Aadhaar Mandatory

February 1, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Unions Oppose EPFO’s Move to Make Aadhaar Mandatory

http://news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=787953

Unions Oppose EPFO’s Move to Make Aadhaar Mandatory
New Delhi | Jan 25, 2013
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Trade Unions have raised red flag against the retirement fund body EPFO’s suo moto decision to make submission of Aadhaar mandatory for its over 50 million existing subscribers and new members.

Questioning the decision of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), the trade union leaders said that it would be impossible for the members to provide Aadhaar numbers as the scheme was not operational in many parts of the country. Also it was cumbersome to get the numbers in states where the scheme is operational.

“They should not have taken this decision suo moto. It should have been discussed in the EPFO’s apex decision making body the Central Board of Trustees (CBT)”, Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh General Secretary Baij Nath Rai told PTI.

Rai who is an EPFO trustee also, further said, “It cannot be done outrightly as there are a lot of hiccups in making Aadhaar number in many parts of the country.”

EPFO has recently gave direction in its order to its field staff to mandatorily ask for Aadhaar numbers from new members joining the scheme from March 1, 2013 and existing members by June 30.

Another EPFO trustee and All India Trade Union Congress Secretary D L Sachdev has outrightly opposed it saying that EPFO does not need to use Aadhaar number as unique account number of its members.

“We are opposing this move. All members do not have Aadhaar numbers. They should make it voluntary,” he said adding that EPFO can give unique account number of all members without using the Aadhaar number and platform.

Sachdev who is also an EPFO trustee said that AITUC would raise the issue with Labour Minister as well as take it up in the CBT meeting on February 15. (MORE)

Admitting that having Aadhaar number of all EPFO members

is a herculean task, another EPFO trustee and Hind Mazdoor Sabha Secretary A D Nagpal said, “I do not think that this could be done by June 30. We will ask for extension of the deadline in the forthcoming meeting of CBT next month.”

Earlier, EPFO had envisaged replacing its members’ account number with Aadhaar numbers to avoid inconvenience to those who had to apply for transfer of PF money to the new account with the new employer.

EPFO is working towards creating a central database where all members would have a unique account number and would not require to transfer PF accounts to another one in the event of changing jobs.

EPFO recently digitalised its database of regional offices and launched its e-passbook service where subscribers can access their account online. Now the body is working towards integrating this digital data base and bring them together at one place.

This will help EPFO members, particularly construction workers, who often change their jobs or contractors.

Move to make Aadhaar mandatory opposed

February 1, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Move to make Aadhaar mandatory opposed

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/307774/move-make-aadhaar-mandatory-opposed.html

Move to make Aadhaar mandatory opposed
New Delhi, Jan 25, 2013, PTI:
Trade unions have raised red flag against the retirement fund body EPFO’s suo moto decision to make the submission of Aadhaar mandatory for its over 50 million existing subscribers and new members.

Questioning the decision of the Employee s’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), the trade union leaders said that it would be impossible for the members to provide Aadhaar numbers as the scheme was not operational in many parts of the country.

Also it was cumbersome to get the numbers in states where the scheme is operational.

“They should not have taken this decision suo moto. It should have been discussed in the EPFO’s apex decision making body the Central Board of Trustees (CBT),” Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh General Secretary Baij Nath Rai said.

Rai who is an EPFO trustee also, further said, “It cannot be done outrightly as there are a lot of hiccups in making Aadhaar number in many parts of the country”

Confused over Aadhaar, Cabinet clears GoM

February 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Confused over Aadhaar, Cabinet clears GoM

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Confused-over-Aadhaar-Cabinet-clears-GoM/articleshow/18266680.cms

Confused over Aadhaar, Cabinet clears GoM
TNN | Feb 1, 2013, 01.48 AM IST

READ MORE UID Confusion|National Population Register|GoM On UID|Aadhaar Card|Praful Patel

A tussle over who will collect and store data saw a compromise being worked out with the task being divided between UID and NPR.
NEW DELHI: Confusion over whether the unique identity number is a number, a card or both, and concerns over UID and the National Population Register duplicating functions prompted the Cabinet to refer UPA-2’s ambitious project to a group of ministers.

The Cabinet discussion on Thursday revealed that the ministerial panel was not immune from contradictory and blurred perceptions about Aadhaar, as UID is known, with some ministers saying they had received a card along with a number.

Those who voiced doubts about UID’s format included coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, minister for social justice and empowerment Selja, minister for heavy industry Praful Patel and railway minister Pawan Bansal.

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Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who has been fielded along with finance minister P Chidambaram to project Aadhaar-linked benefits, made the point that the UID was essentially a number. This is the correct position as the card provides a number that is to be linked to the database establishing identity.

Ramesh’s remark that the UID number could be supplied through a mobile phone, however, saw oil minister M Veerappa Moily point out that rural populations may not be conversant with the technology. Moily is understood to have remarked that was himself yet to figure out everything about a mobile.

Differences persisted as concern was also expressed over duplication or overlap between the National Population Register (NPR) and the UID. Both processes involve similar collection of biometric data including iris scans.

With the scheme involving a Rs 5,000 crore rollout in the initial stage, it was felt the proposal be subjected to a more detailed examination by a GoM.

Chidambaram is understood to have pointed out that it will be NPR that will matter rather than the UID. The minister seems to have referred to the population register being a record that can indicate citizenship rather than being a biometric database.

A tussle over who will collect and store data saw a compromise being worked out with the task being divided between UID and NPR. The somewhat complicated truce meant that those covered by UID will need to also register with NPR. On the other hand, persons covered by NPR do not need to register afresh with UID.

The database is expected to be eventually stored by the UID authority as it is seen to have developed backend linkages that make Aadhaar an effective instrument to verify identity.

The project envisages a UID number being used to instantly match the biometrics stored by the authority to verify the identity of a person. This is intended to allow simpler access to services such as banking while allowing direct transfer of certain benefits like scholarships and pensions.

Aware of the politically tricky ground of UID being used to establish nationality, the authority’s brief states that it must collect data about persons who are usually residents of India. The objective was to first get a fix on numbers, including illegals.

PM sends resident ID card scheme to GoM

February 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on PM sends resident ID card scheme to GoM

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pm-sends-resident-id-card-scheme-to-gom/1067783/

PM sends resident ID card scheme to GoM
Swaraj Thapa Posted online: Fri Feb 01 2013, 02:53 hrs

New Delhi : The ambitious Rs 5,500 crore proposal to issue resident identity cards to the entire population above 18 years of age under the National Population Register — which in the past had clashed with the Aadhaar scheme under UIDAI on ground that they had similar objectives — on Thursday failed to find Cabinet approval following which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh referred it to a Group of Ministers (GoM).

Cabinet ministers displayed their lack of knowledge on the subject when during the discussions, many members said they thought that Aadhaar was merely a number given to an individual and not an actual card. Other members like Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel, Railway Minister Pawan Bansal and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Kumari Selja intervened to say that they had been handed Aadhaar cards after their fingerprints and iris scans were taken. These ministers, however, confessed they were not aware if the card issued to them had a microchip carrying information about their personal details.

The discussion then shifted to whether the duplicity of having an Aadhaar number as well as a resident identity card in the form of a smart card carrying personal information was really necessary and if it meant unnecessary burden on government exchequer to the tune of Rs 5,500 crore as an initial investment. Some members pointed out that both resident ID card as well as Aadhaar had similar objectives and it was only logical if the two initiatives were merged.

In between, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh contended that even smart cards would be outdated soon and the mobile phone would become the information carrying interface relating to identity of an individual. Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily, however, differed with him strongly telling Cabinet members that it would be too tall a task to expect a person from rural background to be familiar with mobile phone operations as an information interface. He cited his own example saying that his knowledge about operating his handphone was limited.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who as home minister had backed the resident identity card, made a strong pitch for Cabinet approval to the scheme on the ground that the resident ID card was important in the context of security concerns. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde too pitched in, even adding that some fake cards had been issued under UIDAI.

With the lack of consensus, The PM decided to send the subject to a GoM. Sources said either Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar or Defence Minister AK Antony could head the GoM.

IT firms like TCS, Infosys & Wipro losing work as MNCs’ captive centres are back into fashion

February 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on IT firms like TCS, Infosys & Wipro losing work as MNCs’ captive centres are back into fashion
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/ites/it-firms-like-tcs-infosys-wipro-losing-work-as-mncs-captive-centres-are-back-into-fashion/articleshow/18263621.cms

IT firms like TCS, Infosys & Wipro losing work as MNCs’ captive centres are back into fashion

BANGALORE: Captive technology centres of global corporations, which appeared to have gone out of fashion, are coming back into prominence, a development that is not good augury for Indian software companies such as Tata Consultancy ServicesBSE 0.37 %InfosysBSE 0.02 % and WiproBSE -0.21 %.

A combination of factors, including higher scrutiny by regulators in the US and Europe, and a desire for tighter control of intellectual property, is resulting in multinational corporations increasingly relying on their own units in India.

A recent example of the change of course is the move by Allstate Corp, one of the largest insurers in the US, to set up its own facility in Bangalore, resulting in a shrinkage of work for TCSBSE 0.37 %, Infosys and Wipro. The $32-billion (Rs 1.7 lakh crore) company carved out portions of the contracts it had awarded to India’s top three software companies and decided to carry out the work itself.

“The level of regulatory oversight has certainly increased visibly in the recent past, especially in the banking, financial services and insurance space,” said KS Viswanath, senior vice-president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies ( Nasscom), the body that represents India’s $100-billion IT services and business process outsourcing sector.

Starting from the mid-1990s, captives were an important proving ground for the offshore outsourcing model for many global corporations.

70 Captive Units Set Up

Once they discovered that India offered the benefit of low cost and an abundant talent base, many of them, among them Citi and UBS, gradually relinquished their captives and handed out their technology operations to be managed by Indian service providers.

IT firms like TCS, Infosys & Wipro losing work as MNCs captive centres are back into fashion

Besides heightened regulatory activity in the US in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, two recent incidents involving Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC, where outsourcing was blamed for critical compliance breaches, have also contributed to greater vigilance by clients.

A recent report by the Everest Group said last year, around 70 captive centres were set up, most of them new facilities.

US-based accounting and advisory Grant Thornton, Barclays, online trading and trading platform company Trade Station Group and Zurich Insurance Group are also either setting up new centres or expanding their existing facilities in India, according to people familiar with the developments.

Chetan Garga, managing director and country head at Allstate’s India centre, said as the large technology outsourcing contracts signed 7-10 years ago are now coming up for renewal, corporations have an opportunity to re-examine what they want to give out versus what to keep in-house.

The level of satisfaction with the quality of work being done by service providers weighs heavily on such decisions, he said.

Any opportunity lost is particularly painful for Indian service providers because the industry is fighting harder for contracts while the size of the global market remains more or less unchanged. But this does not mean that there will be wholesale transfer of work to captives or that there is an imminent threat of a sharp drop in offshore outsourcing.

With over 700 captives that employ 5 lakh professionals, India houses critical technology hubs for some of the largest corporations in the world. While these centres do not disclose their revenues, industry experts estimate the value of work delivered from these captives to be $12-13 billion in the last financial year.

“In last couple of years, these centres have evolved into doing more IP-driven work, including risk analytics and customer analytics,” said Nitin Seth, country head at Fidelity Worldwide Investment.

“There is rethinking now around the whole make versus buy paradigm, with CIOs now trying to strike the right balance between work done in-house and outsourced to vendors,” said Fidelity’s Seth.

Analysts are also questioning assumptions around outsourcing being cheaper than doing work internally, especially in a captive model. Everest argues that total cost of ownership is lower for captives than service providers on account of relative advantages in accessing skills and shorter learning curve.

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P Chidambaram thinks Aadhar is “just a number”. But Sharad Pawar say, “It’s a card.”

February 1, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on P Chidambaram thinks Aadhar is “just a number”. But Sharad Pawar say, “It’s a card.”

http://www.rediff.com/news/report/upa-a-cabinet-of-ignorance-on-aadhaar/20130131.htm

UPA : Union Cabinet of Ignorance!
Last updated on: January 31, 2013 23:50 IST

Believe it or not, Prime minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ]’s Cabinet is unable to arrive at consensus on the exact identity of AADHAAR — Unique Identification Number (UID).

Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram [ Images ] thinks it’s “just a number”. He is correct. But Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar [ Images ], Railway Minister Pawan Bansal and many other ministers say, “It’s a card.”

The Union Cabinet that met on Thursday, reportedly, displayed a sensational lack of knowledge about their own ideas, plans and its execution. The question was, probably, worth Rs 5,500 crore.

When the Cabinet met on the issue of harmonising the AADHAAR and National Population Register’s exercise and the need for a Resident Identity Card, an unbelievable situation arose.

The country’s most powerful people, sitting on both sides of Dr Singh, on the high table of power, could not decide if AADHAAR is a card or merely a number and as a result they could not approve the budget needed to take the issue further.

During the debate, on the pros and cons of the resident ID card in the Cabinet, even Dr Singh was moved to ask, “Do we really need it?” So much confusion arose among the mighty men that the Union Cabinet had to send the issue to a Group of Ministers to sort it out.

It was surprising for many present to see that the cerebral political entity and even a trained lawyer such as Chidambaram didn’t know that many of his colleagues have gone through the biometrics exercise and got a card that they call the Aadhaar. He was, reportedly, taken by surprise when so many ministers told him that they had gotten “the card”.

He insisted that AADHAAR is merely a number and not an ID card, says a source privy to the event.

At one point, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh [ Images ] butted in to say that there was no need of a ‘card’ for the identity of a resident of India [ Images ] because citizens can get and store the ‘identify number’ on their mobiles.

Veerappa Moily [ Images ], the man of wisdom and more, got provoked. He taunted Jairam that he (Moily) is not able to handle his own mobile phone and expects villagers to use mobile phones to show their identification number. Jairam meekly quoted the millions of mobile connections that are in use in India.

The wise men of India are confused because the brand name of the Unique Identification Number project is Aadhaar. At same time the government has initiated the creation of the National Population Register by collecting specific information from all residents in the country during the house listing and housing census phase of Census 2011 from April 2010 to September 2010, according to the NPR’s website.

NPR data comes under the Union home ministry and AADHHAR is handled by a specially created body under the Planning Commission in 2009. It is headed by Infosys [ Get Quote ] co-founder Nandan Nilkeni.

The turf war going on between the NPR and AADHHAR is compounding confusion at the highest level and even among a billion plus Indians.

Gopalkrishna, member of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties, who gave testimony before the parliamentary standing committee on finance that rejected the UID Bill, says, “It’s not surprising that Cabinet ministers are confused. The Aadhaar advertisement in Imphal has shown that it is a card, although, it is not. The UID Authority of India has been misleading citizens.”

He says, “Chidambaram is right in this case. What appears as a card is deceptive because only the 12-digit number, which printed on the so-called card, is of relevance. It is this 12-digit number which is part of a central database of UID/Aadhaar that acts an identifier, and not as an identity card.

Beware of the bugs

February 1, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Posted in Critical Perspectives | Comments Off on Beware of the bugs
http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/india-cyber-security-at-risk/1/191786.html

Beware of the bugs

Can cyber attacks on India’s critical infrastructure be thwarted?
TAGS: Cyber attack | hacking | telecom | Energy
A group of ethical hackers at Sandrock eSecurities

In early July last year, a staffer at the secretive National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) noticed odd “signals” on his monitoring system. Using complex algorithms that NTRO had been developing since 2010, he categorised these signals as a precursor to a major cyber attack. The agency, run under the Prime Minister’s Office, immediately sent a warning up the chain of command. Inexplicably, the warning went unheeded. That mistake would result in the single-largest cyber attack ever carried out against India.

On July 12, several high-level officials reported their emails had been hacked into. This included officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the paramilitary unit deployed along much of the country’s 3,500 km border with China. The hackers even breached the main National Informatics Centre email server, which serves all government departments. An investigation put the total number of hacked accounts at roughly 12,000.

The scale of the breach may suggest that the hackers were trying to steal any information they could lay their hands on, but NTRO officials believe otherwise. “Ministries like Panchayati Raj, Women and Child Development, and Statistics were not touched. The hackers focused on the ones with secrets,” says a senior NTRO officer on condition of anonymity. “They stole secret information such as deployment locations of troops and communication between ITBP (commanders) and home ministry officials.”

Officials say while any number of countries could be after secrets from the foreign and home ministries and DRDO, only one would be interested in ITBP – China, with which India has a long-running boundary dispute that even led to a brief, but bloody, war in 1962.

A group of ethical hackers at Sandrock eSecurities
A group of ethical hackers at Sandrock eSecurities. The Delhi-based company provides cyber security solutions to private and government agencies.

Cyber security experts believe most cyber attacks on India are from groups based in China. But India is not the only one on these hackers’ radar. The United States is also probing hacking incidents by Chinese groups. One example was the hacking of Lockheed Martin’s futuristic F-35 stealth fighter programme. It is widely believed that the hackers stole design features which ultimately helped China with its J-20 and J-31 stealth fighter programmes.

China denies such allegations. A spokesperson at the Chinese embassy in New Delhi told Business Today in an email that China opposes hacker attacks and has made laws to ban them. “China is also one of the main victims of hacker attacks… China is ready to continue its cooperation with the international community aimed at ensuring cyber security,” the spokesperson said.

The damage cyber attacks can cause was spelt out by US President Barack Obama in an article in The Wall Street Journal in July last year. “In a future conflict, an adversary unable to match our military supremacy on the battlefield might seek to exploit our computer vulnerabilities here at home,” he wrote, arguing for stringent cyber security legislation. “Taking down vital banking systems could trigger a financial crisis. The lack of clean water or functioning hospitals could spark a public health emergency… the loss of electricity can bring businesses, cities and entire regions to a standstill.”

Indeed, such attacks have already been carried out. On April 27, 2007, Estonia ground to a halt when its parliament, ministries, banks and media suffered a wave of cyber attacks. Russia was the main suspect, considering the attacks took place around the same time Estonia decided to relocate a Soviet-era war memorial. Again, in August 2008, Georgia’s government and media websites were knocked offline and phone lines jammed at just the time it went to war with Russia over South Ossetia.

Some of the world’s biggest companies have also been victims of cyber attacks. In August 2012, Saudi Aramco, the Gulf kingdom’s national oil producer, reported an attack that damaged 30,000 computers on its network.

S.P. Dharne, Executive Director, Nuclear Power Corp
The company faces up to 10 targeted attacks a day but manages to block them all: S.P. Dharne Photo: Shekhar Ghosh

Though the attackers did not reach their intended target – the company’s production network – it is not difficult to imagine the global consequences of a disruption in supply from the world’s largest oil exporter. Can India thwart such attacks on its critical infrastructure such as transport and communications networks, oil refineries and nuclear power plants? Is the government even taking this threat seriously?

In December, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth told a conference of Chief Information Security Officers of important ministries that “the government is fully conscious of the threat to our cyber space”. Privately, cyber security experts called this lip service. They point to the mass email hacking of last year, which used a technique called a “Zero Day” (see The Zero Day Nightmare on the next page). Zero Day attacks are unstoppable, but what worsened matters, say investigators, is that most systems did not have updated security software.

Until recently, the responsibility for shielding the country from cyber attacks devolved on the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), set up under the Department of Information Technology in 2004. Since then, the number of reported cyber security incidents – phishing, defaced websites, network breaches, virus attacks – has grown from 23 to 13,301 in 2011 (see Worrying Trend). Experts say the actual number may be 10 times higher as most victims either do not know or do not admit their systems were hacked into.

Vijay Devnath, General Manager, Infrastructure and Security, Centre for Railway Information Systems
There are plenty of free tools available online that help hackers crack passwords easily: Vijay Devnath Photo: Shekhar Ghosh

In July last year, the government split CERT-In’s responsibilities so that serious threats were not lost in the deluge of minor issues. CERT-In now protects cyber assets in non-critical areas while a new body called the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) protects assets in sensitive sectors such as energy, transport, banking, telecom, defence and space.

But, despite the growing threat, India spends aminiscule amount on cyber security . The budgetary allocation towards cyber security (including CERT-In) is Rs 42.2 crore ($7.76 million) for 2012/13, up 19 per cent from Rs 35.45 crore in 2010/11. In comparison, the US plans to spend several billion dollars through the National Security Agency, $658 million through the Department of Homeland Security and $93 million through US-CERT in 2013.

“Indian agencies don’t have enough resources. Their budget should be at least 10 times bigger if they have to function properly,” says Subimal Bhattacharjee, a cyber security expert and former India head of the USbased information systems giant General Dynamics.

Information Technology Secretary J. Satyanarayana admits that more work needs to be done in areas such as capacity building and research and development. But he says the US cyber security budget cannot be compared with India’s. “The US has massive IT infrastructure and needs more money to protect that.”

Satyanarayana says the department is in an advanced stage of finalising the national cyber security policy. Among other things, the policy proposes to minimise the dependence on foreign IT products and to produce indigenous security solutions.

The government also plans to appoint a National Cyber Security Coordinator in the National Security Council to coordinate with all agencies dealing with cyber security.

India has so far not suffered any major economic or physical damage because of cyber attacks, but that does not mean its defences are strong. In January 2012, for instance, NTRO officials alerted the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to serious vulnerabilities in its cargo management system at Chennai, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Amritsar, Lucknow and Guwahati airports. Weak passwords and outdated operating systems were the main problems. These six airports handled 311,000 metric tonne of international cargo in 2010/11. A single day’s disruption would have sent 853 tonne of cargo to
the wrong destinations.

“The economic impact would have been immense had the systems been penetrated by unscrupulous elements,” says P.K. Kapoor, Executive Director (Information Technology), AAI. NTRO followed up its alert with a fullscale assessment of India’s air traffic control (ATC) system and advised, among other things, installing closecircuit TV cameras in ATC rooms.

Dinesh Pillai, CEO, Mahindra Special Services Group
I do not even know the command and control system for dealing with cyber attacks in the country: Dinesh Pillai Photo: Nishikant Gamre

India’s telecom network is equally vulnerable. Dhruv Soi, founder of information security firm Torrid Networks, recalls a recent assignment to test the networks of one of India’s largest telecom operators. He says his team got complete control of the company’s billing system within a week. It also found that the back-up server containing important data had weak passwords and was protected by flawed software. “We targeted this server and were able to control almost everything,” adds Soi.

Weak passwords also allowed hackers to breach the server and deface the website of the Pune-based Indian Railways Institute of Civil Engineering last August. “There are plenty of free tools available online that help hackers crack passwords easily,” says Vijay Devnath, General Manager (Infrastructure and Security), Centre for Railway Information Systems.

The damage was limited because the website is not frequently visited. It could have been worse. “Once a server is compromised, it gives easy access to other connected servers,” says Rajshekar Murthy, who runs the Gurgaon-based cyber security firm Orchidseven. Had the hackers breached the rail traffic management system, they could have sent trains crashing into one another.

If train accidents sound scary, imagine another Bhopal – or Chernobyl – like industrial disaster. State-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India is a constant target for hackers. “The company faces up to 10 targeted attacks a day but manages to block them all,” says Executive Director S.P. Dharne. If even one attack succeeds, the country could face a nuclear emergency.

Government agencies are not the only targets; even companies such as the Kolkata-based ITC have suffered cyber attacks. According to a July 2012 report by Bloomberg, Chinese hackers possibly had access to ITC’s network for a year. It also said cyber thieves hacked into the computer of ITC Chairman Y.C. Deveshwar’s personal assistant and stole several documents including tax filings. An ITC spokesman told Business Today that the company was “informed of a possible hacking attempt” of an independent computer. “The computer in question did not contain any critical information about the company nor did it have access to any such information,” he said. “Our IT security systems are constantly reviewed and updated to protect against such possible attacks.”

Some threats come from within India. In 2007, the IT team of a Chennai-based drug maker detected heavy traffic on servers connected to its research lab. The company was developing an anti-asthma molecule, and it suspected that a hacker was stealing the research data. Unable to trace the hacker, the company approached Mahindra Special Services Group (MSSG), a security consulting firm, part of the Mahindra & Mahindra group. MSSG experts placed a dummy file containing a virus on the company’s R&D folder that appeared to contain research data, says Dinesh Pillai, MSSG’s CEO.

“When the hacker returned, he went straight for the dummy file and we traced him using the virus,” he says. The hacker turned out to be a 29-year-old Chandigarh resident who was hired by a rival drug maker. Experts say India remains highly vulnerable to cyber attacks on its critical infrastructure. “I do not even know the command and control system for dealing with cyber attacks in the country,” says Pillai.

M.S. Vijayaraghavan, an adviser to NTRO, says all cyber security agencies are working in isolation. “If there is a synchronised attack on multiple critical infrastructure facilities, they are not in a position to join the dots and respond in a well-coordinated way,” he says. But, he adds, the formation of NCIIPC is changing that as the entire critical infrastructure has now come under its purview.

Indeed, NCIIPC is worried about thwarting the next big attack. Business Today asked NCIIPC officials to describe how India would face a Stuxnet-style attack on a nuclear power plant (see Repulsing Attacks). Stuxnet was a virus created in a joint US-Israeli operation against Iran that destroyed over 1,000 nuclear centrifuges, setting Tehran’s atomic programme back by at least two years.

“The cyber threat landscape has changed in the past five years. The threat of a Stuxnet-like attack on critical infrastructure will grow in the future,” says Unmesh Deshmukh, Director (Security Suites Sales), Asia Pacific and Japan, at IT security solutions provider Symantec. In coming years, private companies will matter greatly in India’s critical infrastructure as they control more and more assets in telecom, transport, energy, and banking and finance. In five years, NCIIPC hopes to have 500 cyber experts. But estimates by government and private agencies say the country needs 100 times that number.

Vijayaraghavan believes meeting such a target is possible. “That number may sound large, but remember, there is no college degree in hacking. There are thousands who do it as a hobby and we can connect with them.”

Sanjay Katkar, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of security software provider Quick Heal Technologies, says India needs more public-private interaction to secure its cyber space. “We require more collaboration between private companies and educational institutions to develop talent,” he says. “We need more cyber warriors and need to be ready for the cyber war.”

In early July last year, a staffer at the secretive National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) noticed odd “signals” on his monitoring system. Using complex algorithms that NTRO had been developing since 2010, he categorised these signals as a precursor to a major cyber attack. The agency, run under the Prime Minister’s Office, immediately sent a warning up the chain of command. Inexplicably, the warning went unheeded. That mistake would result in the single-largest cyber attack ever carried out against India.

On July 12, several high-level officials reported their emails had been hacked into. This included officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the paramilitary unit deployed along much of the country’s 3,500 km border with China. The hackers even breached the main National Informatics Centre email server, which serves all government departments. An investigation put the total number of hacked accounts at roughly 12,000.

The scale of the breach may suggest that the hackers were trying to steal any information they could lay their hands on, but NTRO officials believe otherwise. “Ministries like Panchayati Raj, Women and Child Development, and Statistics were not touched. The hackers focused on the ones with secrets,” says a senior NTRO officer on condition of anonymity. “They stole secret information such as deployment locations of troops and communication between ITBP (commanders) and home ministry officials.”

Officials say while any number of countries could be after secrets from the foreign and home ministries and DRDO, only one would be interested in ITBP – China, with which India has a long-running boundary dispute that even led to a brief, but bloody, war in 1962.

Cyber security experts believe most cyber attacks on India are from groups based in China. But India is not the only one on these hackers’ radar. The United States is also probing hacking incidents by Chinese groups. One example was the hacking of Lockheed Martin’s futuristic F-35 stealth fighter programme. It is widely believed that the hackers stole design features which ultimately helped China with its J-20 and J-31 stealth fighter programmes.

China denies such allegations. A spokesperson at the Chinese embassy in New Delhi told Business Today in an email that China opposes hacker attacks and has made laws to ban them. “China is also one of the main victims of hacker attacks… China is ready to continue its cooperation with the international community aimed at ensuring cyber security,” the spokesperson said.

The damage cyber attacks can cause was spelt out by US President Barack Obama in an article in The Wall Street Journal in July last year. “In a future conflict, an adversary unable to match our military supremacy on the battlefield might seek to exploit our computer vulnerabilities here at home,” he wrote, arguing for stringent cyber security legislation. “Taking down vital banking systems could trigger a financial crisis. The lack of clean water or functioning hospitals could spark a public health emergency… the loss of electricity can bring businesses, cities and entire regions to a standstill.”

Indeed, such attacks have already been carried out. On April 27, 2007, Estonia ground to a halt when its parliament, ministries, banks and media suffered a wave of cyber attacks. Russia was the main suspect, considering the attacks took place around the same time Estonia decided to relocate a Soviet-era war memorial. Again, in August 2008, Georgia’s government and media websites were knocked offline and phone lines jammed at just the time it went to war with Russia over South Ossetia.

Some of the world’s biggest companies have also been victims of cyber attacks. In August 2012, Saudi Aramco, the Gulf kingdom’s national oil producer, reported an attack that damaged 30,000 computers on its network.

Though the attackers did not reach their intended target – the company’s production network – it is not difficult to imagine the global consequences of a disruption in supply from the world’s largest oil exporter. Can India thwart such attacks on its critical infrastructure such as transport and communications networks, oil refineries and nuclear power plants? Is the government even taking this threat seriously?

In December, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth told a conference of Chief Information Security Officers of important ministries that “the government is fully conscious of the threat to our cyber space”. Privately, cyber security experts called this lip service. They point to the mass email hacking of last year, which used a technique called a “Zero Day”. Zero Day attacks are unstoppable, but what worsened matters, say investigators, is that most systems did not have updated security software.

Until recently, the responsibility for shielding the country from cyber attacks devolved on the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), set up under the Department of Information Technology in 2004. Since then, the number of reported cyber security incidents – phishing, defaced websites, network breaches, virus attacks – has grown from 23 to 13,301 in 2011 (see Worrying Trend). Experts say the actual number may be 10 times higher as most victims either do not know or do not admit their systems were hacked into.

In July last year, the government split CERT-In’s responsibilities so that serious threats were not lost in the deluge of minor issues. CERT-In now protects cyber assets in non-critical areas while a new body called the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) protects assets in sensitive sectors such as energy, transport, banking, telecom, defence and space.

But, despite the growing threat, India spends a miniscule amount on cyber security. The budgetary allocation towards cyber security (including CERT-In) is Rs 42.2 crore ($7.76 million) for 2012/13, up 19 per cent from Rs 35.45 crore in 2010/11. In comparison, the US plans to spend several billion dollars through the National Security Agency, $658 million through the Department of Homeland Security and $93 million through US-CERT in 2013.

“Indian agencies don’t have enough resources. Their budget should be at least 10 times bigger if they have to function properly,” says Subimal Bhattacharjee, a cyber security expert and former India head of the USbased information systems giant General Dynamics.

Information Technology Secretary J. Satyanarayana admits that more work needs to be done in areas such as capacity building and research and development. But he says the US cyber security budget cannot be compared with India’s. “The US has massive IT infrastructure and needs more money to protect that.”

Satyanarayana says the department is in an advanced stage of finalising the national cyber security policy. Among other things, the policy proposes to minimise the dependence on foreign IT products and to produce indigenous security solutions.

The government also plans to appoint a National Cyber Security Coordinator in the National Security Council to coordinate with all agencies dealing with cyber security.

India has so far not suffered any major economic or physical damage because of cyber attacks, but that does not mean its defences are strong. In January 2012, for instance, NTRO officials alerted the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to serious vulnerabilities in its cargo management system at Chennai, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Amritsar, Lucknow and Guwahati airports. Weak passwords and outdated operating systems were the main problems. These six airports handled 311,000 metric tonne of international cargo in 2010/11. A single day’s disruption would have sent 853 tonne of cargo to
the wrong destinations.

“The economic impact would have been immense had the systems been penetrated by unscrupulous elements,” says P.K. Kapoor, Executive Director (Information Technology), AAI. NTRO followed up its alert with a fullscale assessment of India’s air traffic control (ATC) system and advised, among other things, installing closecircuit TV cameras in ATC rooms.

India’s telecom network is equally vulnerable. Dhruv Soi, founder of information security firm Torrid Networks, recalls a recent assignment to test the networks of one of India’s largest telecom operators. He says his team got complete control of the company’s billing system within a week. It also found that the back-up server containing important data had weak passwords and was protected by flawed software. “We targeted this server and were able to control almost everything,” adds Soi.

Weak passwords also allowed hackers to breach the server and deface the website of the Pune-based Indian Railways Institute of Civil Engineering last August. “There are plenty of free tools available online that help hackers crack passwords easily,” says Vijay Devnath, General Manager (Infrastructure and Security), Centre for Railway Information Systems.

The damage was limited because the website is not frequently visited. It could have been worse. “Once a server is compromised, it gives easy access to other connected servers,” says Rajshekar Murthy, who runs the Gurgaon-based cyber security firm Orchidseven. Had the hackers breached the rail traffic management system, they could have sent trains crashing into one another.

If train accidents sound scary, imagine another Bhopal – or Chernobyl – like industrial disaster. State-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India is a constant target for hackers. “The company faces up to 10 targeted attacks a day but manages to block them all,” says Executive Director S.P. Dharne. If even one attack succeeds, the country could face a nuclear emergency.

Government agencies are not the only targets; even companies such as the Kolkata-based ITC have suffered cyber attacks. According to a July 2012 report by Bloomberg, Chinese hackers possibly had access to ITC’s network for a year. It also said cyber thieves hacked into the computer of ITC Chairman Y.C. Deveshwar’s personal assistant and stole several documents including tax filings. An ITC spokesman told Business Today that the company was “informed of a possible hacking attempt” of an independent computer. “The computer in question did not contain any critical information about the company nor did it have access to any such information,” he said. “Our IT security systems are constantly reviewed and updated to protect against such possible attacks.”

Some threats come from within India. In 2007, the IT team of a Chennai-based drug maker detected heavy traffic on servers connected to its research lab. The company was developing an anti-asthma molecule, and it suspected that a hacker was stealing the research data. Unable to trace the hacker, the company approached Mahindra Special Services Group (MSSG), a security consulting firm, part of the Mahindra & Mahindra group. MSSG experts placed a dummy file containing a virus on the company’s R&D folder that appeared to contain research data, says Dinesh Pillai, MSSG’s CEO.

“When the hacker returned, he went straight for the dummy file and we traced him using the virus,” he says. The hacker turned out to be a 29-year-old Chandigarh resident who was hired by a rival drug maker. Experts say India remains highly vulnerable to cyber attacks on its critical infrastructure. “I do not even know the command and control system for dealing with cyber attacks in the country,” says Pillai.

M.S. Vijayaraghavan, an adviser to NTRO, says all cyber security agencies are working in isolation. “If there is a synchronised attack on multiple critical infrastructure facilities, they are not in a position to join the dots and respond in a well-coordinated way,” he says. But, he adds, the formation of NCIIPC is changing that as the entire critical infrastructure has now come under its purview.

Indeed, NCIIPC is worried about thwarting the next big attack. Business Today asked NCIIPC officials to describe how India would face a Stuxnet-style attack on a nuclear power plant (see Repulsing Attacks). Stuxnet was a virus created in a joint US-Israeli operation against Iran that destroyed over 1,000 nuclear centrifuges, setting Tehran’s atomic programme back by at least two years.

“The cyber threat landscape has changed in the past five years. The threat of a Stuxnet-like attack on critical infrastructure will grow in the future,” says Unmesh Deshmukh, Director (Security Suites Sales), Asia Pacific and Japan, at IT security solutions provider Symantec. In coming years, private companies will matter greatly in India’s critical infrastructure as they control more and more assets in telecom, transport, energy, and banking and finance. In five years, NCIIPC hopes to have 500 cyber experts. But estimates by government and private agencies say the country needs 100 times that number.

Vijayaraghavan believes meeting such a target is possible. “That number may sound large, but remember, there is no college degree in hacking. There are thousands who do it as a hobby and we can connect with them.”

Sanjay Katkar, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of security software provider Quick Heal Technologies, says India needs more public-private interaction to secure its cyber space. “We require more collaboration between private companies and educational institutions to develop talent,” he says. “We need more cyber warriors and need to be ready for the cyber war.”

Cash transfer in PDS put on hold

January 31, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Cash transfer in PDS put on hold

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/307955/cash-transfer-pds-put-hold.html

Cash transfer in PDS put on hold
Ajith Athrady, New Delhi, Jan 26, 2013, DHNS:
Centre to wait till 90 pc of beneficiaries get bank a/cs
The Centre has decided to put on hold the proposal of introducing cash transfer in public distribution system (PDS) till 90 per cent of its beneficiaries in the country get bank accounts and Aadhaar numbers.

Though the Centre will conduct a pilot study in six Union Territories, including Delhi, on cash transfer in public distribution system, it will not be implemented in the country till 90 per cent of the PDS beneficiaries get bank accounts and Aadhaar numbers, Union Minister for Food and Consumer Affairs K V Thomas told Deccan Herald.

In the pilot project, likely to be rolled out from April, beneficiaries will receive the subsidy amount in their bank accounts and will buy rice and wheat from the fair price shops.
Though food subsidy has not been included in the national rollout for the Aadhaar-enabled direct benefit transfer in 20 districts across the country, the Centre was keen to
introduce this system in a phased manner.

Before introducing cash transfer, the government priority is modernisation of the PDS to plug the loopholes in the delivery system, he added.

Earlier, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food and Consumer Affairs, headed by Congress Lok Sabha member Vilas Muttemwar, which vetted the National Food Security Bill, has recommended against introducing cash subsidy saying that it would be against the spirit of the scheme.

In its report submitted to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Muttemwar suggested that the government should first ensure that banking infrastructure and accessibility to banking are available across the country, including rural, hilly tribal areas and remote locations before introducing cash transfers against foodgrain.

Not fool-proof: Left

Left parties and activists also opposed the cash transfer saying there was no guarantee that it would be free from leakages and pilferage for individual beneficiaries.
With the parliamentary panel making several recommendations on the Food Security Bill, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has convened a high level meeting next week to discuss on how to incorporate them.

As the panel suggested to providing guaranteed foodgrain to 67 per cent of the population of the country which would burden the exchequer by Rs 1.20 lakh crore as against the current estimation of Rs 1.5 lakh crore per annum, the government wanted to deliberate on this issue in detail, sources said.

The standing committee had also suggested that the issue of price under the Food Security Bill should be reviewed once in five years and transport and handling should be borne by the beneficiaries, which was not in the original bill. The PMO meeting will discuss how to address these issues.

EPFO may put “in abeyance” decision to make Aadhaar mandatory

January 31, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Posted in Process | Comments Off on EPFO may put “in abeyance” decision to make Aadhaar mandatory
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/epfo-may-put-in-abeyance-decision-to-make-aadhaar-mandatory/article4350552.ece
EPFO may put “in abeyance” decision to make Aadhaar mandatory
PTI
NEW DELHI, JAN 27:
In the face of stiff opposition from trade unions, retirement fund body EPFO may put “in abeyance” its decision to make it mandatory to furnish Aadhaar number for its over 50 million subscribers and new members.
“Amid the pressure from trade unions, the EPFO is likely to put in abeyance its office order issued to field staff for collecting Aadhaar numbers of existing members and new subscribers joining the EPF scheme,” a source privy to the development said.
EPFO has given direction to field staff to mandatorily ask for Aadhaar numbers from new members joining the scheme from March 1, 2013 and existing members by June 30.
Questioning the decision of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), trade union leaders had said that it would be impossible for members to provide Aadhaar numbers as the scheme was not operational in many parts of the country.
Also, it was cumbersome to get the numbers in states where the scheme is operational, unions had said.
“They should not have taken this decision suo motu. It should have been discussed in the EPFO’s apex decision making body, the Central Board of Trustees (CBT),” Bhartiya Majdoor Sangh General Secretary Baij Nath Rai had said. He had also said that he would take up the matter in the CBT meeting scheduled on February 15.
Another EPFO trustee and All India Trade Union Congress Secretary D L Sachdev had outrightly opposed it saying that EPFO did not need to use Aadhaar number as unique account number of its members.
Earlier, EPFO had envisaged replacing its members’ account number with Aadhaar numbers to avoid inconvenience to those who had to apply for transfer of PF money to the new account with the new employer.
It is said that this will help EPFO members, particularly construction workers, who often change their jobs or contractors.
Keywords: Because of opposition from trade unions, retirement fund body, EPFO, may put “in abeyance” its decision to make it mandatory to furnish Aadhaar number, for subscribers and new members

A ‘Cost-Benefit’ Analysis of UID

January 31, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Posted in Critical Perspectives | Comments Off on A ‘Cost-Benefit’ Analysis of UID
http://www.epw.in/commentary/cost-benefit-analysis-uid.html

A ‘Cost-Benefit’ Analysis of UID

Vol – XLVIII No. 05, February 02, 2013 | Reetika Khera

A cost-benefi t analysis by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy of the benefits from Aadhaar integration with seven schemes throws up huge benefi ts that are based almost entirely on unrealistic assumptions. Further, the report does not take into account alternative technologies that could achieve the same or similar savings, possibly at lower cost.

Reetika Khera (reetika.khera@gmail.com) is at the Institute of Economic Growth on a ThinkTank Initiative Associate Professor Fellowship.

I would like to thank Jean Drèze for helpful feedback.

A recent study released by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) presents an innovative “cost-benefit analysis” of the Unique Identification (UID) or Aadhaar project. This is, in principle, a welcome step towards more informed discussion and greater transparency of this project. On close examination, however, the widely-publicised conclusions of this study turn out to have a fragile basis.

In a nutshell, the NIPFP report covers the potential use of Aadhaar in seven major welfare schemes and subsidies. These are the public distribution system (PDS), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA, or simply NREGA), school education (including teacher salaries, mid-day meals, textbooks and uniforms), fertiliser subsidy, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) subsidy, Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY), and payments in other schemes (pensions, Janani Suraksha Yojana, accredited social health activists and the Integrated Child Development Services). It estimates that linking these programmes to Aadhaar will lead to a “saving” of Rs 1 lakh crore over 10 years (Mathew 2012), and that after accounting for the costs of integration with Aadhaar the internal rate of return of the project will be over 50%.

Benefits from UID-Integration

The main question pertains to the benefits of integration with UID. The NIPFP report recognises that not all leakages in these programmes can be fixed by UID-integration. Only “bogus” beneficiaries, i e, ghosts (e g, a dead person whose name remains on government records) and duplicates (one person getting benefits twice), can be weeded out.1Estimates of bogus beneficiaries are available for only two of the seven programmes considered in the NIPFP report (the PDS and NREGA).

For the PDS, the report uses the leakage estimates from a report of the Planning Commission published in 2005, based on the outdated data pertaining to 1997-2001.That study estimated that 57% of PDS grain is diverted, of which, 17% was attributed to “ghost cards”. The definition of ghost cards includes (a) below the poverty line (BPL) cards that are not in possession of their owners, and (b) the excess of the total number of ration cards over that of total households (ibid: 82). It is worth-mentioning here that PDS entitlements are fixed per household. It is quite possible that in some cases several members of a joint household obtained separate ration cards for their respective nuclear families. Whether this should count as a case of “ghost” cards, as the Planning Commission report assumes, is not entirely clear. In any case, there is no reliable and up-to-date estimate of the share of bogus cards in circulation.

For NREGA the report assumes that UID integration will lead to savings of 12% of total expenditure – 7% from “automation of muster rolls” and another 5% from linking NREGA bank accounts to Aadhaar (without explaining how these would curb corruption, e g, how automation of muster rolls helps to reduce leakages). If the idea is that some people who do not work manage to have their names on the muster rolls and wages are credited to their accounts (i e, are “bogus” beneficiaries), then this fraudulent practice can continue even if muster rolls are automated.

The real protection from wage corruption in NREGA comes through bank accounts as it separates the payment agency from the implementing agency.3 With bank accounts, wage corruption can still continue in three forms: collusion (where the bank staff and NREGA functionaries collude to inflate work attendance and credit wages into accounts of people who have not worked), extortion (when an official forcibly takes money from NREGA workers after it has been withdrawn from the bank account) and deception (when a worker’s account is operated by NREGA functionaries without his or her knowledge). In the first two cases (collusion and extortion), linking accounts to UID will not help to reduce corruption. Only in cases of deception (or “identity fraud”) can biometric authentication at the stage of withdrawal of wages help.4 Estimates of the breakdown of the different types of corruption are not available.

The NIPFP report also recognises that estimates of duplicates and ghosts are not available for many schemes. What is the correct way to make assumptions on benefits of UID-integration in such cases? There is no easy answer to this, so what the NIPFP report does is either to apply the estimates of leakages due to bogus beneficiaries for one scheme to another (e g, in the case of fertiliser and LPG subsidies, the estimates applicable to the PDS are used),5 or – for the remaining schemes – to apply an arbitrary rate of 7-10%.6

Although these assumptions are termed “conservative” (Patnaik 2012), available evidence – patchy as it is – suggests otherwise. For example, an estimate of fraud in six pension schemes has been made by the Society of Social Audit Accountability and Transparency (Department of Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh) for July-October 2012. Six types of corruption are documented: “dead persons”, “dual beneficiaries”, “partial payments”, “ineligible beneficiaries”, “not paid but drawn” and “other”. These social audit reports suggest that the total discrepancies in disbursement of pensions are around 2%. Discrepancies due to dead beneficiaries and dual pensions – problems that Aadhaar can fix – are a subset of this 2%. The rate assumed by the NIPFP report is 7%.

While the report admits that there are no “robust” estimates of duplicates and ghosts, it provides little justification for the rates assumed in the cost-benefit analysis. Anticipating questions about the assumptions, the anonymous authors of the NIPFP report do upload the spreadsheet with their calculations, inviting readers to “modify the assumptions and explore alternative outcomes”.7

Alternative Technologies

Biometric technology (of which Aadhaar is one variety) can help when there are bogus beneficiaries – ghosts or duplicates. Other, cheaper technologies (e g, computerisation) can also help weed out bogus cards and help plug other leakages. Tamil Nadu has a fully computerised PDS database and overall PDS leakages are very small (4% in 2009-10). In states such as Chhattisgarh, overall leakages in the PDS have fallen from 50% (in 2004-05) to 10% (in 2009-10) without any use of Aadhaar, but through computerisation and other measures (Khera 2011b). The question a cost-benefit analysis should really address is whether Aadhaar is more cost-effective than these and other alternatives, including local biometrics (used in Andhra Pradesh). This question is raised in passing, but not answered in the NIPFP report (Patnaik 2012).8

Concluding Comments

In short, NIPFP’s widely publicised cost-benefit analysis of UID is far from persuasive. It is almost entirely based on assumptions, not estimates, of the benefits of integration with Aadhaar. Where estimates (not assumptions) of bogus beneficiaries are used, they are unreliable or out of date. Further, the report does not take into account alternative technologies that could achieve the same or similar savings, possibly at lower cost.

The report also briefly considers the “costs” of integration of these schemes with Aadhaar. However, it makes no mention of the potential disruption that the integration exercise might cause. Disruption could be at the stage of integration (e g, old age pensioners may be unable to complete the required formalities) or during operations (e g, software, connectivity or biometric failures). By assuming, with touching optimism, that the UID system is reliable and seamless, the report fails to address crucial concerns that have been raised about this adventurous project.

Notes

1 For a detailed discussion on the types of corruption Aadhaar can weed out, see Khera (2011a).

2 “The reference period for the study was from 1997 to 2001 – the four-year period of the operation of TPDS. The household level information referred to the period from May to December 2001” (Planning Commission 2005: 13).

3 This practice has been in operation since 2008, except in Tamil Nadu. A few remote pockets were allowed to return to cash payments by Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh in late 2011.

4 Note also that once those who were using “deception” to defraud the system, may turn to extortion and collusion once identity fraud becomes impossible.

5 The report states, “Using the estimates for PDS and MGNREGS as benchmarks, we assume that using Aadhaar-enabled system would result in a benefit of 7% of the total value of subsidies” (p 11) and “in the absence of such robust studies estimating the leakage from the system towards commercial use, we assume that use of Aadhaar would result in a benefit of 10% of the total value of the subsidy (similar to PDS)” (p 12).

6 See, for instance, p 10 where the report says, “In the absence of data on the extent of leakages that exist on account of fake and duplicate beneficiaries, we have assumed this figure to be 10% of the total expenditure incurred by the government on books and uniforms for school children”.

7 Initial attempts (twice, at a three-day interval) to download the spreadsheet revealed that the spreadsheet was password protected. Now one out of seven worksheets can be modified. The practice of posting reports without author names is also observable with the documents on NREGA and PDS on the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI’s) website.

8 The cost-benefit work has been done by the MacroFinance group at NIPFP, a government-funded institution. The group has a project from UIDAI on financial inclusion which is perhaps why they focus only on UID. At the time of writing, no other paper on UID or financial inclusion was available on their website, raising the question whether the cost-benefit analysis itself was effectively sponsored by the UIDAI. Even if that is not the case, funding from the UIDAI to the MacroFinance group does create a possible conflict of interest, which would merit at least a short disclosure in the report.

References

Khera, Reetika (2011a): “The UID Project and Welfare Schemes”, Economic & Political Weekly, Volume 46, No 9, 26 February.

– (2011b): “Revival of the Public Distribution System: Evidence and Explanations”, Economic & Political Weekly, Volume 46, Nos 44-45, 5 November.

Mathew, Joe C (2012): “Big on Savings, Low on Leaks”, Business World, 24 November, available online athttp://www.businessworld.in/en/storypage/-/bw/big-on-savings-low-on-leak…

NIPFP (2012): “A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Aadhaar”, MacroFinance Group, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, 9 November, available online at http://macrofinance.nipfp.org.in/FILES/ uid_cba_paper.pdf

Patnaik, Ila (2012): “Identify This”, The Indian Express, 3 December, available online at http://www.indianexpress.com/news/identify-this/ 1039542/

Planning Commission (2005): “Performance Evaluation of Targeted Public Distribution System”, Programme Evaluation Organisation, Planning Commission, Government of India, March, available online athttp://planningcomission.nimc.in/reports/peoreport/peo/peo_tpds.pdf

Arun Sundararajan Interview ‘UID Is Like iPhone’

January 31, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Posted in Applications, Arguments For | Comments Off on Arun Sundararajan Interview ‘UID Is Like iPhone’

 

Arun Sundararajan   Interview      ‘UID Is Like iPhone’
‘More people use it, more the applications that are created and downloaded… iPhone applications were developed because the iPhone became so popular.’

Only 30 per cent of Indian households boast of having at least one member with a ‘portable identity’ like a Passport or a Driving License. Such an identity, points out the economist from New York, is necessary for access to institutions and credit, which is why the biometric based Unique Identification (UID) project is going to be a game-changer. An alumnus of IIT, Madras,, from where he obtained a B.Tech degree in Electrical Engineering, Arun Sundararajan secured a degree in Management and a Ph.D. from Rochester. A Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences at Stern School of Business, New York University, he is an economist who researches how technology transforms business and society. He was on a short visit to India this month when he spoke to Outlook on the Unique Identity (UID) project.

Any particular reason why you chose to study ‘Adhaar’ or the UID platform ?

We were fascinated by the scope and ambition of the programme. We no longer find projects like this in the United States, for example. It has a ‘Moon-shot’ feel. UID is a digital infrastructure that seeks to connect people with economic institutions. People’s increasing access to institutions like banking, health services, insurance will have an impact, we believe, on the GDP of the country over the next decade. It will of course take longer for the full impact of the UID to be felt.

You have had the Social Security Number in the US for a long time now. So, how is UID any different?

For one thing, UID is far more advanced than anything we have seen anywhere so far. Secondly, unlike the Social Security Number or any other Identification project, UID is not tied to only identification or any one government service. It is designed as a platform to which applications can be integrated over a period of time. It is also by far the most advanced concept of identity in the world.

But UID has given rise to serious misgivings in India, with many critics questioning the technology itself. How do you react to such misgivings ?

There may be a feeling in India that UID is not going to work. And apprehensions to anything new are both valid and natural. But there is also a healthy respect for technology in India and there is belief in Information Technology (IT). And UID is an IT-based infrastructure. We are optimistic on several counts. In this case the government is not just putting up the infrastructure but also blueprints for how it will work.

The government also had various options for enrolment. It could have been done wholly by government agencies or wholly by the industry. But UID chose a middle ground and combined the benefits of both. I am impressed with the quality of thinking that has gone into it. The PPP model, which required training 1,00,000 people first and then allow the private sector to hire them for the enrolment worked very well.

What are the findings of the survey so far?

We have studied the first batch of data from 2011. The data from 2012 will come in now. Two findings surprised us. One was that 70 per cent of the households which opted for UID enrolment had no portable identity at all till then. They may have had ration cards but they are not portable like Passports are. And not a single member of these 70 per cent households had any such identity. We were also curious to know whether the enrolment was drawing the ‘haves’ or the ‘have nots’. And the survey showed that more than half of the enrolment was among the weaker sections of the people, who were receiving some kind of identity proof for the first time. Half the country has no access to bank accounts and the UID has the potential to change that.

How do you expect the UID to influence the lives of people?

The well-being of the people cannot improve overnight just because they have a portable identity. Technology is not a magic bullet. But the UID platform is going to emerge over time as the most effective general purpose service platform. As more and more people get to use it, more and more applications will start getting attached to it. The blueprints already demonstrate how it can be used to access the banking system for transactions or how it can be used to open a bank account or get a mobile phone connection. It will be a long and slow process.

There are privacy issues and worries over the government introducing an intrusive system to pry into people through UID. Do you endorse such concerns?

Such worries are normal. Privacy issues must be thought out carefully because there could always be unintended consequences. When I had to submit my fingerprints for the US Green Card, I too felt uneasy. But then it is not your soul, just an image. Moreover, privacy concerns must be weighed against civil rights that people may not have, a proper identification in this case. So, the benefits may outweigh the costs.

Will UID applications be largely driven by the government or the private sector ?

Applications will largely come from the private sector, I believe. At this point, UID is possibly a year away from being sufficiently low-risk to allow venture capitalists to fund experiments and entrepreneurial forays. But the future is promising.

I collaborated with the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad on a UID-based Business Plan contest. There were 40 projects, some of them submitted by companies like Microsoft and Wipro. I remember a project which integrated the UID with a dispenser so that the required quantity of foodgrains is automatically released by a dispenser once the beneficiary is authenticated by the UID, without any human intervention. Remember, these are early days yet.

I also believe that over a period of time, most government disbursals are likely to use the UID platform. And it is likely to reduce leakages. But for that to happen, the government agencies, their working style etc., will have to change. People need to be trained and so on. It is a time-taking process.

Can you think of some of the future applications of UID?

Well, electronic medical records, for example. There could be a range of education applications. Some private entity is certain to build a national credit history also. The UID platform is like the iPhone. More people use it, more the applications that are created and downloaded.

Is the government’s plan for ‘cash transfer’ or Direct Transfer of Benefits a knee-jerk reaction, a case of putting the cart before the horse ?

I think it is an important step forward. For platforms to be successful, the eco-system has to be healthy. It is a chicken-and-egg situation. Unless people believe that UID will be beneficial, why would they enrol ? iPhone applications were developed because the iPhone became so popular. Mastercard and Visa are accepted because of the belief that they will deliver. Some commitment from the government, therefore, is important for the growth of the platform. Some times the cart has to be put before the horse or else there will neither be a horse nor a cart.

How important is a legislation for use of data ?

The United States has a set of elaborate guidelines for use of health data though the European Union countries have stronger legislations on the use of data. To their credit, the UIDAI has thought very carefully over both data ownership and data access. Therefore, India has the opportunity to deal with it afresh.

The real privacy concerns are the use of data by the private sector and even in the United States, such guidelines are sorely lacking. With our increasing use of mobiles and computers, with the increase of electronic transactions, the private sector would be collecting a lot more data than the government. Even today, the governments are forced to approach Google and Facebook, which have more information about us than any government agency. A legislation is, therefore, necessary.

Meeting on cash transfers and UID in Alwar tomorrow and other events

January 31, 2013 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Meeting on cash transfers and UID in Alwar tomorrow and other events

[RTF Updates] Meeting on cash transfers and UID in Alwar tomorrow and other events

Friends,
Tomorrow (29 January 2013) a day long public meeting is being organised in Alwar on to understand developments related to cash transfers and UID in the district. The meeting will take place from 11 am to 4 pm at Sidhi Vinayak Marriage Home, near Ashok Circle (Nagli ka choraha). For more information, please contact Kavita Srivastava (9351562965).
On Gandhi Ji’s martyrdom day (30 January), KHadya Nyaya Abhiyaan (KHANA) is organising a public meeting at Jantar Mantar, Delhi from 10 am to 2 pm to give a call for access to nutritious and safe food for Gandhi Ji’s “antim jan”. Please find attached the announcement for this event.
On 13 February a state level consultation on cash transfers, PDS and food sovereignty will take place at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai. More details will follow soon.
With regards
Right to Food Campaign Secretariat
KHadya Nyaya Abhiyaan (KHANA)
27 A/T Gautam Nagar, New Delhi – 110049
INVITATION
 
Public meeting at Jantar Mantar on Gandhi Ji’s martyrdom day (30 January)
to call for access to nutritious and safe food for his “antim jan”
Bapu’s “antim jan” or the “last person”, should actually be the first person
addressed by the state. Alas, this is currently a distant dream.
The meeting is being called by KHANA (KHadya Nyaya Abhiyaan), a publicfacing
campaign that builds agency of the very people who are the most affected
by hunger to build another future. KHANA is supported by OXFAM-India and is a
part of its international campaign titled GROW.
KHANA spoke with about 15,000 people in Delhi and found that high costs of
living, spiralling food prices, and an apathetic state has pushed the antim jan in a
state of chronic hunger; threatening their fundamental right to life.
To share the experiences of those living in perpetual uncertainty about their next
meal, and remind the state of its duty to fulfil the basic needs of the antim jan,
KHANA is organising a public meeting to make a call for food justice on 30
January 2013 at Jantar Mantar from 10 am to 2 pm. You are cordially invited.
For more information, please contact Durba (daakkhana1@gmail.com,
9810461153) or Jaya (khanaforall@gmail.com, 95828 65723)

Cabinet meet on UID vs NPR again tomorrow Thursday 31st jan

January 31, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Posted in Process | Comments Off on Cabinet meet on UID vs NPR again tomorrow Thursday 31st jan
http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/To-avoid-network-issues-home-pitches-for-resident-ID-card/Article1-1003641.aspx
Coming up: Smart ID cards minus queues
Aloke Tikku & Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 30, 2013
.

To overcome the Unique Identification Authority of India’s dependence on mobile networks in remote areas, the home ministry is pitching for deploying India’s multi-purpose Resident Identity Card for e-governance applications.

In a note listed for discussion by the cabinet on

thursday ministry pointed to the advantages that the microprocessor chip-based ID card has over UIDAI. 

https://i0.wp.com/www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/1/30_01_13-metro10.jpg

Besides security, e-governance applications in areas such as direct benefit transfer, public distribution system, rural employment guarantee scheme and passport can be easily built on the card platform, senior government officials told HT.

Unlike its alternative, these cards would provide an off-line mechanism to authenticate an individual’s identity, a government official said.

Encrypted card readers – about the size of credit card machines – would be able to read the data contained in the chip within seconds.

Many officials believe that excessive reliance on mobile networks is not advisable.

Another much-touted card that we have to chase and woo!

January 31, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Posted in Critical Perspectives | Comments Off on Another much-touted card that we have to chase and woo!
http://www.punemirror.in/article/142/20130130201301300820541263c6abde9/The-great-Indian-card-trick.html

The great Indian card trick

Gouri Dange – Writes on everything in the city that makea us go grr..

Another much-touted card that we have to chase and woo!

 

Gouri Dange
     

 

Posted On Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 08:20:48 AM

 

 

The aadhaar card is another addition to the many official documents we are forced to make

It’s not easy, remaining a card-carrying citizen of planet India. Let’s see now — how many cards have I, over the years, have to get for myself? Each time being told that this is THE card, and after you get a hold of this one, there is NO other card that you will have to furnish to prove that you are a bonafide citizen of this great land, and entitled to all the wonderful goodies that it has to offer. So there was long ago the ration card.

Your parents carefully, oh so carefully, got theirs, held on to it, and when you grew up, you were handed a precious grubby note that said that your name had been cut from their card and you were now eligible to have your own ration card.

Living in peace time, and in that very fortunate strata of society that never had to stand in line for substandard foodgrains and kerosene, that ration card served me only ever to prove I was me, and to get that other Holy Grail, the gas card.

Then along came that other much-touted thing, the election card. And no, your passport, which you had acquired determinedly without the help of a tout, was not enough to establish your bona fides for your election card.

You had to pull out that birth cert and school leaving cert and ‘light bill’ for where you lived, and go do that whole thing. That was circa 1992 —at that time, we were also asked to hand in our old ration cards, because the whole system was to be revamped and us haves were going to have a different coloured one, and the have-nots another coloured ones and the have-nothings would get a third colour. That is the last I ever saw of my haloed ration card, and thank god I was never ever asked for it again.

As for the election card, that too was never required of me ever anywhere, and it sits patiently in my filing cabinet in a file importantly marked Important Documents. Somewhere along the way, I made a passport, and now, I was told, I had THE document of all documents in my hand, never ever needing anything else. Then came the PAN card. At last, we were told, this PAN card will be THE final card you will need for anything, ever.

And it was so important that even if you lived without one, you could not die without one or your relatives would have to feed you to the maggots in a jungle or something and so people ran around like headless chicken for this PAN card — which of course again needed at least 3 documents to procure. Well, here I exaggerate — because mine came without much ado, on the basis of my passport.

When the new kid-on-the-block, the aadhaar card, began to shimmer on the horizon, I decided to play ostrich. I just put my head in the sand and let all the commotion simply happen around me.

Itold myself that this was really for the have-nots, and I would never really need to use one, as I was a have-everything, given that I could buy food in the market, cook it on a gas cylinder connection that I legitimately owned, had a PAN card, passport, election card (on which instead of d.o.b they had my age — which instantly made it a non-proof of age, by the way).

Then I saw that people around me, other have-everythings, and not just the have-nots, were marching off and getting their aadhaar card done. So I reluctantly pulled my head out of the sand, and enviously heard stories of people’s residential societies or organisations simply calling the aadhaar card maker with his magic machine come to their doorstep.

Since I live in a place that goes by the ‘every man for himself’ principle, I went to the office of a local nagar sevak who advertised on giant posters that we could apply for our card there. What I encountered there, on four different abortive trips, was that his pals and kith and kin had set up some kind of mini-power-centre there.

People were being shouted at, herded, turned back, and hissed at. We were to take a token number, to come back another day. But that token number was available only between 10 and 11 in the morning and on many days the office shutter was firmly down, because it was the main-man’s kid’s birthday or something.

Those who did manage to get fingerprinted, etc were told rudely — ok now your card can come to you in two months or two years — don’t bug us here asking for it. On my third trip there, some good tired Samaritan standing around suggested we go to a big housing complex near by, where it was being done.

By this time, me, four army jawans who had missed their big day back at their base and were hence running pillar to post, and a bunch of people wanting help to fill the form (which had deliciously unintelligible acronyms like p.o.i, p.o.r, etc – and a couple of questions that needed yes-no answers, but were worded in that ‘Have you stopped beating your wife?’ cryptic way) had become quite a rag-tag team, wandering around in search of some logic and kindness.

The big housing complex that we went to simply sneered at us, all puffed up by the presence of the aadhaar machine in their society, and firmly clanged the gates on us.

Just when I was all set to do my ostrich act again, another giant poster came up in my area, and yet another nagar sevak was advertising that he was saving or sevaing us by providing the aadhaar card set up too.

And wonder of wonders, we were treated politely, asked the right questions, our papers were checked, and we did not even have to make an appointment to come again another day.

Never mind that the fingerprinting machines look like they were thrown away by some First World nation, and I almost had to make a handstand on one of them for my prints to appear clearly, but if all goes well, in three months I will be in possession of yet another hard-won card.

`5,552-cr for ID card project

January 31, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Posted in Process | Comments Off on `5,552-cr for ID card project

http://www.asianage.com/india/5552-cr-id-card-project-838

`5,552-cr for ID card project
Jan 30, 2013 | Age Correspondent | New Delhi

The Union Cabinet is likely to consider the `5,552-crore project for resident identity cards on Thursday, which paves way for all Indian residents to be given a multi-purpose identity card.
The card will bear the UIDAI’s 12-digit Aadhaar or unique identification number and can be used for verifying identity as well as the delivery of various government programmes including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
Against the objections raised by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and department of electronics and information technology (DeitY) over verification and other issues, the Expenditure Finance Committee cleared `5552 crores for the project in 2012.
The RIC programme was first launched in nine coastal states after the Mumbai terror attacks. The home ministry wanted to extend the scheme to the rest of the country and had sought `6,790 crores to fund the programme. The home ministry has been projecting RIC as a national identity card but the scheme had run into trouble after UIDAI chairman Nilekani raised objections.

Direct subsidy transfer to farmers will benefit fertiliser firms

January 31, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Posted in Arguments For | Comments Off on Direct subsidy transfer to farmers will benefit fertiliser firms

http://www.mydigitalfc.com/news/direct-subsidy-transfer-farmers-will-benefit-fertiliser-firms-400

Direct subsidy transfer to farmers will benefit fertiliser firms
By B Krishna Mohan Jan 29 2013 , Hyderabad
Tags: News
When direct cash transfer comes into play, the fertiliser players, who have their own retail outlets, will be better placed to handle higher inventories, according to S Sankarasubramanian, chief financial officer, Coromandel International, which is into fertilisers, speciality nutrients, crop protection and retail.

Direct cash transfer of subsidy to farmers will help the working capital cycle of fertiliser companies, he said. “But, there will be pressure on the dealer network to pay full costs for fertiliser stocks as the subsidy component will be paid directly to the farmers,” he told Financial Chronicle, while speaking on what cash transfer scheme will mean to fertiliser industry.

“This will lead to a kind of credit squeeze to that extent,” he said, adding that the credit requirement from dealers will be high for maintaining the inventory.

On the other hand, companies with their own retail chains can be efficient with the capital deployment as there will be no pending subsidy bills for the companies, he said.

With direct cash transfer, the onus of subsidy handling will shift away from the fertiliser companies calling for an efficient banking system to handle large number of farmers or farmer families, he pointed out, adding that identification of target farmers will be a challenge and the UID card will be a crucial tool in this.

“There will be a need for a post sale data across the industry for delivering the subsidy,” he said, adding that seasonal changes will affect the fertiliser demand even as the movement of prices in the international markets will be the key determinants for the quantum of subsidy.

For instance, the DAP prices are softening in the global market but the domestic urea prices are likely to see an increase. The present subsidy on the DAP is about Rs 14,350 per tonne.

According to an investor presentation last year, the subsidy component for Coromandel International had been Rs 1,626 crore in 2012, Rs 969 crore in 2011, Rs 508 crore in 2010 and Rs 947 crore in 2009. It revenues were Rs 9,823 crore, Rs 7,639 crore, Rs 6,452 crore and Rs 9,408 crore in 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 respectively.

Direct transfers to slash subsidies by up to 60%: FM

January 31, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Posted in Arguments For | Comments Off on Direct transfers to slash subsidies by up to 60%: FM

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/editorial/expect-a-responsible-budget-not-a-populist-one/articleshow/18263588.cms

Direct transfers to slash subsidies by up to 60%: FM
fe Bureau Posted online: Thursday, Jan 31, 2013 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : Finance minister P Chidambaram has said he is hopeful of achieving 20-60% savings on subsidies a year through better distribution under the new direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme that he expects to roll out completely by end-2013. The minister also said the Budget in February would be a “responsible” one, and not one mindful of next year’s election, according to a Standard Chartered Bank note that highlighted key takeaways from his interaction at an investors conference in London on Tuesday.

With the promise that the subsidy on diesel, which accounts for 60% of the total fuel subsidy bill, will be phased out in two years, the targeted savings on account of DBT in other subsidies would indeed come handy for the Centre in its difficult-looking fiscal consolidation plan.

From the start of this month, the Aadhaar-enabled DBT has been under implementation in 20 districts of the country for disbursal of various doles/entitlements like old-age and widow pension schemes, student scholarships and payments under the employment guarantee scheme.

Subsidies including the three explicit ones on food, fertiliser and fuel will also be distributed to the beneficiaries through this route in coming months. Subsidies this fiscal are budgeted to be R1.9 lakh crore or 12.75% of the Budget, whereas the claims, inclusive of carryovers from last year, would be much higher, Chidambaram said.
“Building on the expected 5.3% fiscal deficit for FY13, a 4.8% deficit target is possible in FY14 if the government commits to diesel price deregulation, higher revenues via better tax administration, fertiliser subsidy reduction by way of urea price deregulation and lower administrative costs related to certain expenditure,” the note said.
Chidambaram said there was no ground for a rating downgrade for the Indian economy, and that GDP growth will return to 8% level in 2014-15. He expressed confidence that the pending Bills on the pension and insurance sectors would be passed in the budget session of Parliament in February.

The note quoted Chidambaram promising implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) by the end of 2013 and the Direct Taxes Code by August 2013. While reduction of fiscal deficit is an overriding objective for the government, attracting domestic and foreign investment was another priority for the government.

Reviving the investment cycle was key to a gradual recovery in growth to 6-7% in 2013-14 and to 8% in 2014-15.
The finance minister said the GST implementation alone could potentially add 1.5 percentage points to GDP growth, as per the note. Chidambaram said the government was seriously considering suggestions of the Rangarajan committee to review gas prices after 2014. But he hinted that the short-term capital gains tax (STCG) on listed securities is unlikely to be removed, as the government was unable to narrow the tax base. A panel led by Parthasarathi Shome, which reviewed the General Anti-Avoidance Rules, recommended abolition of STCG on listed securities.

The minister, said the note, believed India’s potential growth is 8% and above, and that the country cannot afford to have less than 7% growth.

On issuing sovereign bonds abroad, Chidambaram said the finance ministry is considering different options and has not yet chosen any particular route. He stressed on pursuing fiscal consolidation, with the fiscal deficit being reduced to 4.8% of GDP in 2013-14.

“I have drawn the red lines. The red lines are that the fiscal deficit for the current year will be no more than 5.3% (of the GDP) and the fiscal deficit for the next year will be no more than 4.8%. That’s a red line and I will not breach that red line,” he said in an interview to Financial Times.

Asked whether the government would be strong enough to cut fuel subsidies, he said he would not make any “declarations from the pulpit”. The government has already corrected diesel prices and allowed oil companies to make small corrections periodically over a period of time.

Maintaining that the government has to still correct about Rs 10 a litre on diesel, Chidambaram said a beginning has been made this month and the government should be judged by the steps it took.

Asked whether the government would like to abandon fuel subsidies as a long-term goal, he said not all subsidies can be abandoned. Citing the example of kerosene, Chidambaram said if the subsidy on it is removed completely, it would make the fuel unaffordable to the rural poor and they would demand wood for cooking purpose that could lead to destruction of forest.

Direct benefits transfer: How the ‘game’ has changed

January 31, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Posted in Arguments For | Comments Off on Direct benefits transfer: How the ‘game’ has changed

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/direct-benefits-transfer-howgame-has-changed/500548/

Direct benefits transfer: How the ‘game’ has changed
Business Standard / Jan 31, 2013, 00:40 IST

It’s been called a game-changer, a nationwide technology-backed initiative that promises to change the way the government delivers entitlement to citizens. But a month after the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme was officially rolled out across 20 districts, a look at the ground realities reveals a yawning gap between intent and implementation. Of the five districts Business Standard visited, there are those, like Northeast Delhi, where not a single transfer has been made. Nonetheless, the challenge of simultaneously enrolling and opening bank accounts of millions of beneficiaries must be quickly surmounted, before the efficacy of the ambitious DBT scheme can be adjudged.

ALWAR, RAJASTHAN: Innovation drives enrolment

Ashutosh A T Pednekar, the collector of Alwar, sits in a magnificent office in the city’s erstwhile palace, the same chamber from where Michael Francis O’Dwyer, the British administrator notorious for endorsing the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, once governed Rajasthan’s northern regions. Quite unlike his Irish predecessor’s legacy, this Goan civil servant is likely to be better known for an administrative innovation that may well turn out to be the blueprint for implementing the DBT schemelaunched on January 1.
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Multimedia

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In a little more than two weeks, after the government announced its intention to rollout the DBT scheme in Alwar last December, Pednekar managed to achieve 100 per cent Aadhaar penetration among the 84,000 beneficiaries of 14 government schemes in his district. “On December 15, about 22 per cent of the 84,000 beneficiaries in Alwar had Aadhaar cards,” says Pednekar. “So, to get to 100 per cent penetration, we broke the entire enrolment programme down to the panchayat level and planned the entire operation accordingly.”

Each of Alwar’s 472 panchayats has between 150 and 300 beneficiaries, who are entitled to benefits under four broad schemes: Elementary education, secondary education, social justice, and medical and health-related benefits.

Pednekar got a detailed list of beneficiaries drawn up in each panchayat under these schemes and instructed panchayat officials to ensure that those in their areas were enrolled. For beneficiaries under the elementary education benefit scheme, for instance, the school principal was made responsible for enrolments.

That apart, some 44 machines were pressed into service for enrolments during this period, with each machine averaging about 72 enrolments per day. “We created clusters, where four or five panchayats could be serviced by four to six machines, and the time-table was handled at the SDO (sub-divisional officer) level. At any college that had more than 100 students, we took a machine for enrolment. During this period, we completely stopped any general population enrolment. Otherwise, we would have been washed away.”

The focused enrolment of beneficiaries meant that the larger challenge of Aadhaar penetration was dealt with within weeks, but Pednekar was still left to contend with some 30,000 beneficiaries without bank accounts.

Instead of going through the lengthy know-your-customer (KYC) forms, Pednekar says he asked banks to provide the district administration with bank account numbers. “We mandated that the KYC forms would follow within a week. This helped us to seed the bank account numbers with the Aadhaar numbers quickly. But if the KYC form wasn’t completed, the account wouldn’t become operational.” Pednekar also ensured manual checking of the beneficiary bank accounts.

Since January 1, as a result, the district has transferred Rs 5.05 crore to 20,400 beneficiaries.

Suresh Chand Sharma, headmaster of the state-run Gandhi National School in Alwar’s old city, says a couple of his students were even invited to withdraw money via fingerprint authentication some weeks ago. “At the end of the month, we will ask for their bank passbooks and then we’ll know exactly what has happened.”

Nonetheless, the advantages of the DBT system are clear. For scholarships, the previous process involved the money travelling through six administrative layers. Now, it’s been reduced to a two-step process.

DEVJYOT GHOSHAL

Now UIDAI can help prevent TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN and help provide ADEQUATE SAFETY MEASURES AND AMENITIES IN RESPECT OF WOMEN

January 25, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Posted in Applications | Comments Off on Now UIDAI can help prevent TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN and help provide ADEQUATE SAFETY MEASURES AND AMENITIES IN RESPECT OF WOMEN

-Justice-Verma-Committee-Report recommends:

Under-CHAPTER SIX,TRAFFICKING OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN, point 46, page-186

“Schools must be encouraged to issue Identity cards to children.”

Under-CHAPTER TEN PROVISION OF ADEQUATE SAFETY MEASURES AND AMENITIES IN RESPECT OF WOMEN, point 11, page-266

“Every holder of a permit issued by any of the  road transport authorities in the NCR and NCT,  Delhi will within ten days from today, file with its  RTA a list of drivers who are engaged by him  together with suitable photographs and other  particulars to establish the identity of such  persons”

In relation to metropolitan towns, it is necessary that public transport vehicles must have drivers who are security vetted and who have an identity card of certification by the police after which alone they will be permitted to drive such vehicles;
—————————————-

I wonder what are the presumptions underlying these recommendation

Do the committee members believe, identity of a child is stable and therefore giving an identity card can solve the problem of disappearance? How should one interpret a vague statement like Schools must be encouraged to issue Identity cards to children? Exactly what kind of encouragement the committee members suggest? Are they suggesting a financial encouragement or a punitive encouragement? Or are they suggesting a policy led encouragement, perhaps asking Mr. Nilekani to link up all the schools with UIDAI?

and why only in metropolitan towns it is necessary that public transport vehicles must have drivers who are security vetted? What do they mean by security vetting? What does the committee members wants the police to exactly know about a prospective driver of a public transport? Who will vet this information? Against which precise law?

Aadhar = mechanism to recognize the unique journey of aspiration

January 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Posted in Arguments For, Projections, UID Propaganda | Comments Off on Aadhar = mechanism to recognize the unique journey of aspiration

AICC Chintan Shivir

Birla auditorium

Jaipur 18-20 January 2013

20 JANUARY 2013

Rahul Gandhi

Excerpt from Rahul Gandhi’s speech

The time has come to question the centralized, unresponsive and unaccountable systems of decision-making in governance, administration and politics. The answer is not that people say we need to run the system better. The answer is not in running these systems better. The answer is to completely transforming these systems. Yet, I am optimistic.I am optimistic because we have already put the building blocks of this revolution inplace. And to a big degree I would like to thank the Congress President, the PrimeMinister and the Congress Party for putting these building blocks in place. Let me tell you what these building blocks are. First of all, India is more connected today than ithas ever been. We have the networks of roads, information, communication, peopleand media for new ideas to emerge, develop and take flight. It is no longer possibleto limit an idea whose time has come.

Aadhar gives us an unprecedented mechanism to recognize the unique journey of aspiration of every single Indian no matter where he is. Direct cash transfer is going to allow us to respond to these dreams with anempowering delivering system. My father used to speak about 15 paisa to the rupeereaching the people and we today are preparing the system that is going to answerthat question. We are going to answer that question. And 99% of our people’s money can go to them. It is a revolution that no other country has done. And we are preparing that revolution. We prepare the revolution and our opponents say that we are bribing the country. Giving the people their due is now called bribing the country. They say it because they are scared. They understand what Aadhar can do. They understand what cash transfers can do. And most important, they understand what people in the Congress Party, what the thinking in the Congress Party can do.

……………………………………………………………………

Jaipur, Jan 19 — With over 1,600 rooms booked in over 40 hotels, the Congress’ three-day ‘Chintan Shivir’ has boosted the city’s hospitality sector, which was witnessing a dull tourist season.

The rooms in 43 hotels are occupied by around 350 Congress delegates and over 250 mediapersons from all over India. In addition, over 1,200 All India Congress Committee (AICC) members will be arriving in the city Sunday.

The ‘Chintan Shivir’, the Congress’ introspective meet, is being held here Jan 18-20.

“Half a dozen hotels were booked for four days for the media and delegates beginning Thursday. The rest have been booked for Jan 19 and 20 (Saturday and Sunday) for AICC members,” Harish Kumar, executive manager of the Four Point Sheraton, one of the host hotels, told IANS.

Kumar said the event has come as a welcome surprise in a dull season.

“The tourism industry has still not recovered completely from the global recession. Foreign tourists are still shying away from international holidays. This event was much needed,” he said.

Sunil Kumar, hotel Royal Orchid, told IANS: “People in the hospitality business are delighted. There weren’t many tourists this season and this event has saved us from losses.”

A standard room for one night in all the 43 hotels ranges between Rs.4,000 to Rs.6,000.

According to a Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation official, the room occupancy prior to the event was between 40 to 50 percent. However, it surged to around 90 percent over the weekend.

The officials further said that the exposure the city is getting due to the event will further generate revenue as some Congress delegates would like to return with friends or families.

“Many people have come here for the first time and there is a possibility that they will return,” said Harish Kumar.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is staying at the governor’s house Raj Bhawan, while Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi are lodged at a private hotel, Raj Mahal Palace.

(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted at rahul.v@ians.in)

Read more: http://india.nydailynews.com/business/eab47d415600feac3d5205d304562eab/congress-chintan-shivir-delights-jaipur-hoteliers#ixzz2IXdOH9xw

http://post.jagran.com/chintan-shivir-to-be-held-with-simplicity-claims-gehlot-1358396406

Chintan Shivir to be held with simplicity, claims Gehlot

Posted on: 17 Jan 2013, 09:50 AM

Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday claimed that the Congress’ Chintan Shivir (brainstorming camp) would take place with “simplicity” and the expenses would be borne by All India Congress Committee (AICC).

“This is purely a party level event so it was decided that the expenses for hotel, vehicle etc will be borne by the AICC. There will be no burden on the government,” Gehlot told reporters here.

The chief minister said that the preparations for the major event are going on in full swing.

“Congress President, Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi will stay here for three days. Chief ministers of several party-ruled states, leaders of Congress legislative parties,
AICC members will be among around 1,600 people who are coming to attend the event,” he said on the sidelines of a function here.

The chief minister also reviewed the arrangements for the event and gave necessary directions to officials as the meteorological department has predicted rains or thunderstorm during the next 2-3 days.

Meanwhile, state chief secretary C K Mathew also took stock of the arrangements, including the security measures to be adopted, for the Chintan Shivir.

The Chintan Shivir will take place on January 18 and 19, which will be followed by AICC meeting on January 20 at Birla auditorium.

Gangs faking Aadhaar, credit cards busted

January 10, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Gangs faking Aadhaar, credit cards busted

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-01-08/bangalore/36215215_1_fake-credit-cards-voter-id-cards-cheques
Gangs faking Aadhaar, credit cards busted
TNN Jan 8, 2013, 04.18AM IST

BANGALORE: Three men who manufactured fake identity cards and bank documents have been arrested. The trio allegedly created fake Aadhaar, PAN and voter ID cards, besides demand drafts and cheques at their home.

“The fraud was exposed when they sought to encash a cheque purportedly issued by a family court in Mysore,” said DCP (Central) BR Ravikanthe Gowda.

The arrested were identified as Harish Kumar A alias Harshavardhana, 26, of Sharadadevi Nagar in Mysore, G Shanmugam, 35, of Kodlu Village, Singasandra, off Hosur Road, and Rajashekharan alias Raje Gowda, 53, of KP Agrahara, off Magadi Road.

“The trio faked demand drafts and cheques of ING Vysya Bank, State Bank of Mysore and Bank of Baroda and encashed them. When we raided the premises of Rajashekharan, we found printers, computers and CPUs that were used in making the fake proofs and seals,” said the DCP.

They purchased cars with fake credit cards

Jayanagar police arrested 14 persons and seized 27 fake credit cards which they swiped at malls, electronic shops and other business establishments to make huge purchases. The cards were in the name of two major private Indian banks and a few multinational ones.

“Using these credit cards, the accused purchased a Toyota Innova car, a Mahindra Scorpio, 11 two-wheelers, high-end watches, electronic gadgets like mobile phones and gold jewellery. We are yet to estimate the total worth of goods they have purchased. The kingpin of the racket, Jayakumar, is among the arrested. He had joined hands with another agent Gunashekharan, who brought the fake cards from Malaysia. Gunashekharan is absconding,” said DCP (South) HS Revanna.

He was earlier arrested by Sampigehalli police and was out on bail. He also used to sell fake credit cards for a price.

UIDAI cancels 3.84 lakh fake Aadhaar numbers

January 10, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on UIDAI cancels 3.84 lakh fake Aadhaar numbers
Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 25, 2012
First Published: 19:26 IST(25/12/2012)
Last Updated: 02:26 IST(26/12/2012)
First Published: 19:26 IST(25/12/2012)
Last Updated: 02:26 IST(26/12/2012)

Some have managed to beat the so-called unbeatable Unique Identification (UID) system and got fake Aadhaar numbers generated raising security concerns over UPA’s new UID based governance model.

Nandan Nilekani led Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has

cancelled 3.84 lakh Aadhaar numbers of the total 4.10 lakh generated under the biometric exception clause. 

The Aadhaar agencies are allowed to enroll people without proper finger-prints or iris under the biometric exception clause.

https://i2.wp.com/www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/12/26-12-pg9a.jpg

In this, the agencies are required to provide photographs of the non-existent biometrics along with demographic details of the enrollers.

The biometric exception was incorporated to make Aadhaar truly inclusive identification generation process as there was highly level of exclusion in other systems such as ration cards.

But, the agencies exploited the clause to make some pass money as for each successful enrollment and generation of Aadhaar number, the agency got Rs. 50.

It was business as usual for UIDAI till a large number of Aadhaar letters in Andhra Pradesh remained undelivered.

“Most of the 45,000 undelivered Aadhaar letters in Andhra were under the exception clause. It hinted that something was wrong,” a senior UIDAI official said. Further scrutiny revealed that of 48.80 lakh Aadhaar generated in Andhra, 2.30 lakh were false and were subsequently cancelled.

With the lid blown off, similar instance cropped in other states.

A Delhi government official said, who reported around 13,000 fraudulent enrollments to UIDAI, said the biometric exception was introduced for people with high level of disabilities but it was frequently used raising a question over credibility of Aadhaar numbers.

The UIDAI admitted of similar high number of fake Aadhaar numbers from Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh in a reply to Lok Sabha.

The authority also found of the total Aadhaar generated under this clause, only 22,195 were found to be genuine. Another 6,600 Aadhaar numbers are under investigation.

For enrollment of around 90 crore residents in subsequent phases, the UIDAI has asked agencies not to opt for biometric exception without approval from a senior, preferably a government official.

The UPA government has decided to use Aadhaar payment platform for delivery of its welfare schemes once the enrollment is complete likely by April 2014.

Teething trouble for Aadhaar registration

January 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Teething trouble for Aadhaar registration

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/130110/news-current-affairs/article/teething-trouble-aadhaar-registration

Teething trouble for Aadhaar registration
DC |

Vijayawada: Residents of Vijayawada city are facing problem due to insufficient Aadhaar registration centres. Several people complained of errors in Aadhaar cards and majority of the people are yet to receive the cards.

As the officials are insisting on Aadhaar cards for sanctioning pensions and scholarships, a large number of people started visiting the registration centres in the city. Though the people submit application for registration of the cards, the agencies entrusted with the work are asking them to appear before it for taking family photograph. But several applicants complained of delay in taking photographs by the agencies.

The district administration has entrusted the work of Aadhaar cards registration to two agencies in the city.

Meanwhile, the demand for the cards also increased with the announcement of the state government on cash transfer scheme through Aadhaar cards.

Speaking to this newspaper, joint collector Ms P. Usha Kumari said that the number Aadhaar cards registration centres would be increased in the district. She said at present 11 centres are functioning. She said the agencies have to register the particulars of 10 lakh people.

Punjab trips on Aadhar, misses direct cash transfer deadline

January 10, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Punjab trips on Aadhar, misses direct cash transfer deadline

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-01-02/india/36111006_1_aadhar-cards-direct-cash-haryana-ias

Punjab trips on Aadhar, misses direct cash transfer deadline
Priya Yadav, TNN Jan 2, 2013, 04.43AM IST

CHANDIGARH: Lagging behind in making Aadhar cards preparing Punjab missed the direct-cash-transfer bus on the date of its launch, even as neighbouring Haryana started the scheme enabling over 300 people in Ambala to ring in the New Year with their pensions making way directly into their bank accounts.

Punjab could not meet the deadline set by the Union government for launch of the country’s most ambitious project of transferring money directly in the beneficiaries’ accounts. “We did not get the letter from the Punjab government to begin direct cash transfers,” said Keshni Anand Arora, Haryana IAS officer, who is heading the project in the three northern states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.

Under the scheme, money meant for recipients of 29 welfare programmes — mainly related to scholarships and pensions — would be transferred to bank accounts linked to their unique identification numbers.

Out of the three districts in Punjab where the scheme was scheduled to be launched, Nawanshahr has managed to get 95% of Aadhar cards made while in Gurdaspur only 60% of the population has been covered. Fatehgarh Sahib has seen 80% of cards made.

“Punjab has re-fixed its targets and the scheme will now be launched after all cards are made by January 10,” said Arora.

In Haryana, Ambala district, which has 6,000 beneficiaries, started social security scheme of giving pensions in Durana village. “Sonepat will follow suit as the district is ready for a take off,” said Arora. UT Chandigarh saw the scheme take off smoothly as eight schemes, primarily related to scholarships, education and pension, started with more than 1,400 people getting cash directly into their accounts.

Keen to catch up, Punjab government has gone into an overdrive to get the Aadhar cards made to meet the revised deadline. “We have put lot of machines in Gurdaspur and our employees are working overtime to get the needful done,” said an official of the state government.

Aadhaar card to be accepted as proof to get passport: Ministry of external Affairs

January 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Applications | Comments Off on Aadhaar card to be accepted as proof to get passport: Ministry of external Affairs

http://www.jagranjosh.com/current-affairs/aadhaar-card-to-be-accepted-as-proof-to-get-passport-ministry-of-external-affairs-1357729349-1

Aadhaar card to be accepted as proof to get passport: Ministry of external Affairs
Suggested Readings: January 2013 Current Affairs, National | India, 2013 Current Affairs
Published on: 09-JAN-2013

The Ministry of External Affairs on 8 January 2013 decided and consequently advised all Passport Issuing Authorities to accept Aadhaar letter as Proof of Address and Photo identity in conjunction with any other prescribed documents for proof of address/identity for the purpose of passport application.

Presently, it is being seen that the authorities accept passport applications based on about 14 documents such as voter ID card or electoral photo identity card (EPIC), ration card, PAN, driving license, birth certificates among others.

Aadhaar is a 12 digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India on behalf of the government. This number will serve as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India.
Any individual, irrespective of age and gender, who is a resident in India and satisfies the verification process laid down by the UIDAI, can enroll for Aadhaar.

Aadhaar must for 11 government schemes

January 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Applications | Comments Off on Aadhaar must for 11 government schemes

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-01-08/mumbai/36215859_1_aadhaar-schemes-unique-identification-authority

Aadhaar must for 11 government schemes
Chittaranjan Tembhekar, TNN Jan 8, 2013, 09.59PM IST

MUMBAI: Beneficiaries of around 11 government schemes aimed at offering financial aid – such as scholarships for students and aid for women and disabled – will be enrolled on priority under Aadhaar.

The drive has been initiated in state’s five districts namely Mumbai, Pune, Amravati, Nandurbar and Wardha, said Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Deputy Director General, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

With the roll out of Direct Cash Transfer (DCT) for several government schemes, a special drive has been started for the beneficiaries of schemes such as — Post Matric Scholarship for SC Students, Pre Matric Scholarship for SC Students, Pre Matric Scholarship for Children of those Engaged in Unclean Operations, Post Matric Scholarship for OBCs, Post Matric Scholarship for Students with Disabilities, National Means cum Merit Scholarship, National Incentive for the Girl Child for Secondary Education, Post Matric Scholarship Scheme, Janani Suraksha Yoajana, Permanent Disability Benefits, Dependent Benefits, and Sickness State Insurance Corporation schemes.

“The beneficiaries in these districts should get themselves enrolled at the earliest as the cash being offered in these schemes is going to be linked to their Aadhaar numbership and thus will be transferred in their accounts,” UIDAI officials said. “Beneficiaries of these schemes thus have to come up with proper documents showing that they are the beneficiaries of those schemes,” they added.

Aadhaar cards dumped in Bhopal’s city drain

January 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Aadhaar cards dumped in Bhopal’s city drain

http://www.ciol.com/ciol/news/155473/aadhaar-cards-dumped-bhopals-city-drain

Aadhaar cards dumped in Bhopal’s city drain

The news comes when people are complaining that they have not received their Aadhaar cards even after fulfilling all the formalities
News | by CIOL Bureau
BHOPAL,

INDIA: Bundles of Aadhaar cards were found in a drain in police station road in Bhopal which is one of the busiest places of the city.
People have been complaining that they have not received their Aadhaar cards even after fulfilling all the formalities.
On the other hand, district officials claim that they have distributed atleast 90 percent of these cards and have also covered individual houses to get information required for Aadhaar cards.

Pvt agency to speed up UID enrolment work

January 10, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Process | Comments Off on Pvt agency to speed up UID enrolment work

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Pvt-agency-to-speed-up-UID-enrolment-work/articleshow/17946752.cms?

Pvt agency to speed up UID enrolment work
TNN | Jan 9, 2013, 03.03 AM IST
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PUNE: The district collector Vikas Deshmukh has initiated steps to speed up enrolment for the unique identification number (Aadhar) in Pune city and rural parts. The collector on Tuesday said that the administration was planning to complete the enrolment in a phased manner. Top priority would be given to enrol those citizens identified under 34 schemes selected for the direct cash transfer, he said.

The collector elaborated that the beneficiaries of various schemes will continue to receive subsidies or scholarships in their bank accounts even if they were still to receive UID numbers. He said that the administration was in the process to link the UID number with the bank accounts and that disbursement of subsidies or scholarships have not been stopped.

Deshmukh said that the administration has shortlisted one agency which plans to procure about 100 machines and trained staff to undertake enrolment work of about 76,000 beneficiaries identified under 34 schemes, which will be followed by enrolment of school students and others.

He said, “According to recent guidelines issued by the government, the collector is now empowered to appoint an agency at the local level for Aadhar enrolment. We are looking for more agencies to take up the work.”

According to the administration, as many as 67 UID machines have been installed in Pune city, 85 in Pimpri-Chinchwad and 67 in rural parts. Deshmukh said that citizens need not panic as the administration was initiating steps to increase enrolment.

The collector also said that those citizens who have enrolled for UID, but have still not received the number can approach SETU centres for the same.

India risks backlash hurrying through overdue welfare reform

January 9, 2013 at 7:43 am | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on India risks backlash hurrying through overdue welfare reform

http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFBRE89O0DD20121025

India risks backlash hurrying through overdue welfare reform
Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:15am GMT
By Manoj Kumar

BEELAHERI, India (Reuters) – India is shaking up the way it gets billions of welfare dollars to the poor with a plan that could one day reshape the economy and tackle graft keeping millions in poverty, but in one small town a pilot of the new system is proving unpopular.

Putting India’s technological prowess to work to bring the entire 1.2 billion population within the reach of government, the widely feted unique identity (UID) project set up by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani two years ago has so far scanned the irises of 210 million people into a biometric database.

Now, in a more ambitious version of programmes that have slashed poverty in Brazil and Mexico, the government has begun to use the UID database, known as Aadhaar, to make direct cash transfers to the poor, in an attempt to cut out frauds who siphon billions of dollars from welfare schemes.

“We can ensure that the money goes to the correct person and the role of middleman is ended with direct transfer of benefits to the needy,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told a crowd of thousands in the Rajasthani town of Dudu on October 20, as he launched the programme, accompanied by the president of his Congress party, Sonia Gandhi.

Following a slew of reforms aimed at jolting Asia’s third largest economy from a deep slump, the plan could over medium term bring some order to India’s troublesome fiscal deficit by plugging leakages of subsidized grain, fuel and fertilizer.

Two years ago, a McKinsey report estimated such an electronic platform for government payments to households would save up to $18 billion annually – enough to wipe out one-sixth of a fiscal deficit that could hit 6 percent of GDP this fiscal year.

In the next year alone, the government plans to transfer the wages for over 50 million workers in a rural job scheme, along with pensions for 20 million senior citizens and about 5 million education scholarships and some fuel subsidies directly to bank accounts linked with the Aadhaar identity number.

But in Beelaheri, a small village in the Rajasthani region of Kotkasim where the kerosene pilot began last year, hundreds of bank accounts have been set up without referencing the UID database, as the government pushes ahead with the politically rewarding cash transfers before readying Aadhar to identify the correct beneficiaries.

Critics warn good intentions are already being undermined by the hurry ahead of a national election due in 2014 and by vested interests, including bureaucrats and politicians in states, who stand to lose discretion over distributing funds.

The government is aiming for about two trillion rupees ($37.22 billion) of cash transfers under different schemes by March 2014 even if the distribution of the ID numbers is incomplete, according to several media reports.

By lowering costs, Aadhaar could make a planned food subsidy programme that is a pet project of the left-leaning Sonia Gandhi easier to finance, for example.

The Congress party is banking on that programe to help it win a third consecutive term, despite voter anger at graft.

REALITY CHECK

The pilot project in Beelaheri, a village of 2,000 people some 130 km (81 miles) southwest of Delhi, replaces kerosene subsidies with cash rebates and has been running since December. It has massively lowered demand for the subsidized fuel, which weighs on government finances.

But teething problems are immediately visible.

Hundreds of new Aadhaar ID cards are strewn in messy piles on the counter of a small tea-shop on the edge of the village. Locals drift in and rifle through the cards, looking for their own.

The government has begun the cash transfers even to people who have not received their cards, said Pushkar Raj Sharma, a local government official overseeing the scheme in the area.

On the back foot over multiple corruption allegations, the government is desperate to win back voters with effective welfare programs without further blowing out a fiscal deficit being closely watched by global credit ratings agencies.

The government is likely to spend over $55 billion this fiscal year ending in March on fuel, fertiliser and food subsidies, as well as a flagship scheme guaranteeing 100 days of work a year to rural labourers, and other welfare programmes.

Launched by Singh in 51 districts, the government says the direct cash transfer plan will eliminate millions of fraudulent benefit claimants over the next 4-5 years. It says Aadhaar could reduce subsidies by about one percentage point of GDP.

The Kotkasim plan, one of five small pilot projects across India, offers insight into issues the wider Aadhaar-direct transfer project may face when it is rolled out nationally.

Sharma said the project had cut the amount of kerosene being sold to one-eighth of the earlier levels, partially due to elimination of “ghost beneficiaries,” or duplicate identities used to claim benefits.

But he also admitted the pilot had been rolled out with little coordination with the UID database and that funds being transferred arrived only sporadically in bank accounts.

“Funds are not coming in time. Otherwise the scheme is very useful to check leakages,” Sharma said.

Many villagers were frustrated at the new system, which makes them pay market rates up to three times the subsidized cost of kerosene, and then makes it difficult to recover the money.

Tailor Dharam Pal said he had simply stopped buying kerosene he was entitled to because he faced a lengthy visit to the bank to withdraw the rebate, often to find it had not been deposited.

“I have no idea when the money will come and I have to spend half of my working day every time to visit the bank,” said Pal.

Instead, many villagers are buying more easily available cooking gas, suggesting lower kerosene sales in part represent a drop in legitimate use.

Lower sales are good for government finances whatever the reason – but obstacles to cheap fuel do not play well with voters.

“The government will have to pay a price in elections. Not even half of the people in village are buying kerosene.” said Tulsi Ram, 45, a villager.

Critics warn the goal of registering the biometric data of 1.2 billion people — currently being carried out by two different enrollment programmes — and bringing the masses of rural India into the banking system could face big problems if the wrinkles are not quickly ironed out.

“I would call it a logistical nightmare,” said Jyotinder Kaur, an economist at HDFC Bank, India’s No. 3 lender.

Kaur feared the system would be still vulnerable to graft, whereby one person could obtain multiple cards during their distribution, for example.

“I would be very cautious given the implementation risks, and the size of the population and the fact that there is really no sanctity attached to the UID,” Kaur said.

(Additional reporting by Arup Roychoudhury; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Simon Cameron-Moore)

Lobbying – the unregulated catalyst that cannot be ignored

January 9, 2013 at 7:42 am | Posted in Critical Perspectives | Comments Off on Lobbying – the unregulated catalyst that cannot be ignored

http://barandbench.com/brief/3/2885/lobbying-the-unregulated-catalyst-that-cannot-be-ignored

Lobbying – the unregulated catalyst that cannot be ignored
Saumya Ramakrishnan
Oct 25, 2012
Advocacy has existed since the time human beings have been in existence. It is a manifestation of freedom of expression. Hence, it is not uncommon to see a relative or a close friend go to great lengths to help someone secure lucrative jobs or plum assignments. However, if the people involved in securing the deal are people you have elected to the Parliament to serve you and the person being favoured is a close associate of the MP and the assignment concerned is of significance to the public, then eyebrows are raised.

Hence it came as no surprise when a letter written by BJP President Nitin Gadkari, seeking the release of funds to pay contractors for the Gosikhurd dam project, created rattles in the political circle. The project itself is under the scanner of the Central Water Commission for being wrought with construction flaws. Moreover, in the letter, the BJP President made a personal assurance that any rectification due to bad quality of work shall be at the risk and cost of the contractor. The fact that the main contractor is a BJP Rajya Sabha member and is known for his proximity to the BJP President makes this incident even more dubious.

It’s not just politics which is witnessing the presence of people trying to influence decisions with the backing of somebody in power. Even India’s much loved sport, cricket, has not been spared. Reports in newspapersearlier this month suggested that three players from the Indian cricket team had called up senior BCCI officials to lobby for a former national cricketer to be chosen as the selector from the Central Zone. It is alarming that the same players whose fate the selectors are going to decide are trying to get a particular person appointed to that post. Even to the naked eye, the conflict of interest here is blaring.

However, the most phenomenal exposure pertaining to lobbying in India came about when corporate lobbyist Niira Radia was caught on tape trying to influence journalists, senior editors, businessmen and politicians in order to make sure that a particular MP with a tainted record gets the portfolio of Telecommunications and Information Technology. This revelation opened up a can of worms and exposed the depth to which lobbying is playing a role not only in the policy decisions of the government but also in the appointment of the MPs who frame the policies. The sheer extent and brazenness of such lobbying was hitherto unheard of in Indian politics and led to questions being asked as to whether lobbying ought to be legalized subject to regulations just like any other business. However, before analyzing the pros and cons that come with legalizing ‘access to legislators’, it is necessary to get an all-round view of lobbying and its many functions.

This phenomenon of ‘lobbying’ is not new in India; however, it is only recently that it has acquired such an enormous magnitude. Lobbying itself is as old as human civilization. It is one of the many ways in which human beings try to protect and further their own interests. BBC defines the term ‘lobbying’ as coming from the lobbies or hallways of Parliament where MPs and Peers gather before and after debates in the Commons and Lords chambers. People wishing to influence the opinions of MPs or Peers have frequented the lobbies seeking to persuade members of the validity of a particular viewpoint.

Lobbying also underlines one of the ways in which powerful industrial groups buy access to legislators. More often than not, it involves an illegal gratification, either through exchange of money or indirectly by conferring privileges like exclusive VIP tickets for sporting events, travel by private jets, funding election campaigns, etc to the MPs or anyone close to them.

Another view is that lobbying is nothing but a form of advocacy as the purpose of lobbying is to get a group’s point of view across. Not all lobbyists look to employ dubious means to secure their ends; there are some who are genuinely interested in politics and policies of the government and represent a group of people interested in that particular policy.

Closely connected to lobbying is the concept of ‘revolving door of influence’ which is prevalent in the US, UK, France and other countries in the West, and the manifestation of which can be seen in India as well. This term refers to the movement of people with power in the government and in the corporate world.

Investopedia defines it as the movement of high-level employees from public sector jobs to private sector jobs and vice versa. The idea is that there is a revolving door between the two sectors as many legislators and regulators become consultants for the industries they once regulated and some private industry heads receive government appointments that relate to their former private posts. This practice enables the government to obtain the services of people from the industry they intend to regulate and it also affords a good chance to the corporate world use their corporate experience while framing policies and implementing them. One of the most efficient applications of the revolving door has been the appointment of Nandan Nilekani, former CEO of Infosys as the Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India. His corporate experience was effectively tapped by the government for implementing a project of such a big magnitude. However, the flip side to the concept of revolving door is that when a former bureaucrat is hired by a private sector company immediately after his retirement, or sometimes even induced to resign by a lucrative offer, it may not just be a movement from one sector to another. The intent more often than not is to capitalize on the close connections that the bureaucrat, owing to his experience, is likely to have with the legislators and thereby, get access to the closed rooms of Parliament where future policies are discussed. Such transactions are layered and complex and the conflict of interest and undue misuse of power might be almost impossible to sight. There is rarely any transparency in such transactions as they are not in the public domain, and hence no information can even be sought on it.

It is not that lobbying is without virtues. The obvious advantage of lobbying is that in a thriving democracy like India, where it is impossible for a common man to get himself heard by the policy makers, lobbying is one of the ways in which he can be heard. It is only when many people with common interests come together and form a ‘lobby’ capable of exerting pressure or influencing the policy makers that they will be able to reach out to the people who are in power to take decisions that are likely to affect their interests. Yet another advantage is that the parliamentarians, who often lack the technical expertise and knowledge required in framing certain policies or legislations, get access to in-depth analytical advice on technical issues.

Lobbying in India has no legal status. However, it is deep-rooted and exists in the grey area of law and hence, it is not considered to be a prudent or ethical business practice. It is rather uncommon that a leading businessman in the country does not have a cozy relationship with one politician or the other. The relationship a businessman has with people at the Centre often makes or breaks a lucrative deal for them. Corporate lobbying in India has almost become a formidable, organized industry – with several public relation firms promoting lobbying as a part of their core competence in order to bag top clients. Most of these firms have bureaucrats, even their personal assistants, spouses of politicians and even journalists on their payroll. Some of their tactics include throwing lavish parties, networking, keeping bureaucrats and industrialists in their good books, and even planting stories in favour of their client or against their rivals in leading publications.

Lobbying is common and legal in countries like US, Canada, Germany and France where there are appropriate legislations to regulate the conduct of the lobbyists by making registration compulsory and obligating declarations prescribed. In the US, perhaps the most “thriving” country for lobbyists, lobbying has been interpreted by courts as a part of free speech and thus, protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 in the US lays down regulations which are to be followed by lobbyists. Some of these include compulsory registration with the secretary of the Senate and the clerk of the House of Representatives within 45 days of contacting a legislator for the first time, or 45 days after being employed. Filing must be made each quarter, and a separate file is needed for each of the lobbyist’s clients, and includes information such as the name and title of the client, an estimate of lobbying expenses, and an estimate of income the lobbyist achieved after doing the lobbying. These regulations ensure that bundles of information and statistics are available to the public and journalists to analyse the transactions.

One strong reason to regulate lobbying is that whether or not legal status is afforded to it, lobbying will not cease. It is an open secret of modern-day business. Criminalizing it altogether is not rational as lobbying is also one of the ways in which the legislators may inform themselves of the perspective of varied interest groups with respect to a particular policy. What is required is that lobbying should be made transparent and out in the public like it is in the US. People (voters) not only have the right to know the policies formulated by the parliamentarians, but also have the right to know about the people who influenced them during formulation of such policies .

Another kind of regulation dealing with lobbying is the way in which Japan has regulated‘amakudari’, a practice in which senior politicians retire to executive or high-profile positions within the corporate realm with the government helping them secure private sector jobs. Japanese laws initially prohibited government employees from joining a private company for two years after their retirement if they had a close connection with the company within five years prior to retirement. However, this rule has been repealed now. Similarly, in France, there is a three-year “cooling-off” period before a government employee can move to the private sector. In India, there was a two-year cooling-off period under the All India Service Rules, which has been reduced to one year owing to pressure exerted by IAS officers, who are even against the one-year period. Many bureaucrats have applied to have their cooling-off period waived and have joined private companies related to the sector over which they earlier exercised powers within months of their retirement. So, we have had people from the health ministry joining pharmaceutical giants, and officials from revenue ministry joining financing companies. It is no doubt that greater good will be served if the cool-off period is extended and no waiver is given to any bureaucrat.

However, there are also pitfalls to regulation. Mere disclosure of activities may not be of any help to the naïve public as conflict of interest in such transactions is not easily visible. This is evidenced by the view that lobbying, even though regulated, has spoilt the fabric of the political system in the United States of America. Transparency has not led to more accountability and improvement of social standards as expected. The alleged use of lobbying techniques allowed Enron to make sure it was enlisted in the stock exchange and continued its activities, withholding from the shareholders the fact that they were buying shares of a company that is collapsing. Yet another factor to consider is that even when there is legislation, there will be people who will still discreetly try to influence the government using channels that are not in the public domain. In a country like India, where politics reeks of nepotism, the possibility of this happening is not meek.

Lobbying is a stark reality, and it is going to impossible to ignore it. If not a new legislation altogether, certain tweaks in the existing legislations to ensure transparency and accountability might serve as an example of the results legislation is likely to yield. Such changes could be in the form of mandatory disclosure of all meetings that a minister, registration of lobbyists and a cap on the money permitted to be spent by lobbyists to ensure that it is not just the rich group that is able to lobby. It is time to accept lobbying as a fact of the modern capitalistic world and make attempts to bring in accountability and transparency, rather than pretending that it does not exist

PM constitutes National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers

January 9, 2013 at 7:40 am | Posted in People | Comments Off on PM constitutes National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers

http://netindian.in/news/2012/10/25/00021861/pm-constitutes-national-committee-direct-cash-transfers

PM constitutes National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers

NetIndian News Network
New Delhi, October 25, 2012
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has constituted a coordination committee called the National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers as a mechanism to coordinate action for the introduction of direct cash transfers to individuals under the various government schemes and programmes.

The committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, will have as its members eleven Cabinet Ministers, two Ministers of State with independent charge, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission , the Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the Cabinet Secretary, with the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister as its convener.

The Prime Minister may invite any other Minister/officer/expert to any meeting of the committee, an official press release said.

According to it, the committee would engage in the following tasks:

a) Provide an overarching vision and direction to enable direct cash transfers of benefits under various government schemes and programmes to individuals, leveraging the investments being made in the Aadhaar Project, financial inclusion and other initiatives of the Government, with the objective of enhancing efficiency, transparency and accountability.

b) Determine broad policy objectives and strategies for direct cash transfers.

c) Identify Government programmes and schemes for which direct cash transfers to individuals can be adopted and suggest the extent and scope of direct cash transfers in each case.

d) Coordinate the activities of various Ministries/ Departments/ Agencies involved in enabling direct cash transfers and ensure timely, coordinated action to ensure speedy rollout of direct cash transfers across the country.

e) Specify timelines for the rollout of direct cash transfers.

f) Review the progress of implementation of direct cash transfers and provide guidance for mid-course corrections.

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g) Any other related matter.

The National Committee on Cash Transfers will be assisted by an Executive Committee on Direct Cash Transfers chaired by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Secretaries of the concerned Ministries and the Director General, UIDAI. The Secretary, Planning Commission will be the convener.

The Executive Committee on Direct Cash Transfers would engage in the following tasks:

a) Identify and propose for the consideration of the National Committee on Cash Transfers such Government programmes and schemes for which direct cash transfers to individuals can be adopted and suggest the extent and scope of direct cash transfers in each case.

b) Ensure the preparation of and approve strategies and action plans for the speedy rollout of direct cash transfers in areas agreed to and in line with the timelines laid down by the National Committee on Cash Transfers.

c) Coordinate the activities of various Ministries/ Departments / Agencies involved in enabling direct cash transfers to ensure that the architecture and framework for direct cash transfers is in place for rolling out direct cash transfers across the country.

d) Review and monitor the rollout of direct cash transfers and undertake mid-course corrections as and when necessary.

e) Any other related matter entrusted by the National Committee on Cash Transfers or relating to direct cash transfers.

The Chairman may invite any other Officer/Expert to any meeting of the Executive Committee as may be necessary.

The National Committee and the Executive Committee would be serviced by the Planning Commission, which may obtain assistance as required from any Ministry/Department/Agency of the Government in this task. The Planning Commission will designate an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary in the Planning Commission to coordinate and service the work of the National Committee and Executive Committee.
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In order to finalise the operational and implementation details relating to the design and implementation of the direct cash transfer system, and for ensuring a smooth roll-out of direct cash transfers in an orderly and timely fashion, Mission Mode Committees will be constituted.

These will be:

a) Technology Committee to focus on the technology, payment architecture and IT issues.

b) Financial Inclusion Committee to focus on ensuring universal access to banking and ensuring complete financial inclusion.

c) Implementation Committees on Electronic Transfer of Benefits at the Ministry/ Department level to work out the details of cash transfers for each department such as data bases, direct cash transfer rules and control and audit mechanisms.

The notifications for these three committees will be issued in due course.

The composition of the National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers is as follows:

1. Prime Minister (Chairperson), 2. Finance Minister, 3. Minister of Communications & IT,
4. Minister of Rural Development, 5. Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, 6. Minister of Human Resource Development, 7. Minister of Tribal Affairs, 8. Minister of Minority Affairs, 9. Minister of Health & Family Welfare, 10. Minister of Labour & Employment, 11. Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, 12. Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, 13. Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, 14. Minister of State (i/c) of Food & Public Distribution, 15. Minister of State (i/c) of Women & Child Development, 16. Chairman, UIDAI, 17.Cabinet Secretary and 18.Principal Secretary to PM (Convener).

Electronic Voting Machines Still Widely Used Despite Security Concerns

January 9, 2013 at 7:39 am | Posted in Technology | Comments Off on Electronic Voting Machines Still Widely Used Despite Security Concerns
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/22/electronic-voting-machines-2012_n_1992992.html?utm_hp_ref=technology

Electronic Voting Machines Still Widely Used Despite Security Concerns

Posted: 10/22/2012 3:51 pm EDT

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Voting Machine Hacking
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For years, researchers have been aware of numerous security flaws in electronic voting machines. They’ve found ways to hack the machines to swap votes between candidates, reject ballots or accept 50,000 votes from a precinct with just 100 voters.

Yet on Nov. 6, millions of voters — including many in hotly contested swing states — will cast ballots on e-voting machines that researchers have found are vulnerable to hackers. What is more troubling, say some critics, is that election officials have no way to verify that votes are counted accurately because some states do not use e-voting machines that produce paper ballots.

After the “hanging chad” controversy of the 2000 election, Congress passed a federal law that gave states funding to replace their punch card and lever voting systems with electronic voting machines. But computer scientists have repeatedly demonstrated that a variety of electronic voting machines can be hacked — often quite easily.

“Every time they are studied, we find further problems,” said J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan who researches voting machine security.

“It’s simply a matter of reprogramming these machines to be dishonest,” Halderman added. “That’s what we found six years ago and it’s still true today, and many of these machines are still in use.”

In 2008, researchers at Princeton University found that it took seven minutes, using simple tools, to install a different computer program in a voting machine “that steals votes from one party’s candidates, and gives them to another.” That machine, the Sequoia Avantage, is still used in at least six states by 9 million voters, according to Roger Johnston, who heads the vulnerability assessment team at Argonne National Laboratory.

Last fall, Johnston and his team of researchers found that Diebold’s AccuVote voting machines could be hacked to change voting results by inserting a piece of electronics into the machines. Diebold’s AccuVote voting machines are used in at least 20 states by 21 million voters, according to Johnston.

“I’ve seen high school science fair projects that are more sophisticated than what is needed to hijack a voting machine,” Johnston said in an interview.

Most voting machines are made by two manufacturers, Election Systems & Software and Dominion Voting Systems, which was formerly Diebold Election Systems. Neither company returned requests for comment.

Researchers say it’s difficult to determine whether voting machine manufacturers have fixed cyber-security flaws because the companies do not share their software code publicly. In addition, there is little pressure on them from elections officials to do so, Johnston said.

“The voting manufacturers are in denial,” Johnston said. “They are not doing anything about these problems, but their customers are not asking them to, either.”

However, there is no evidence that hackers have ever manipulated votes in a U.S. election, experts say. And many election officials insist security concerns about voting machines are overblown. They say that security on Election Day is much stricter than, say, what a team of computer scientists with unlimited time in a laboratory might face to hack a voting machine.

“It’s important to keep in mind that having full and open access to these systems is quite different than how these systems are available to voters on Election Day,” said Jessica Myers, a voting systems certification specialist at U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which certifies e-voting machines.

Butler County, Ohio — in a key swing state with more than 240,000 registered voters — has been using AccuVote machines since 2005, according to Lynn Kinkaid, director of the county board of elections. One reason they still use the machines is that “elderly people like them because you can enlarge the print,” he said.

Kinkaid said the county’s e-voting machines are tested before each election, encrypted and not connected to the Internet.

“We are very sure our machines are safe and secure,” he said.

Lehigh County, Pa., which has about 236,000 registered voters in another swing state, has been using Accuvote voting machines since 2006, according to Tim Benyo, the county’s chief clerk for registration and elections.

Benyo said the county’s e-voting machines are certified by the state, and prior to Election Day, they are locked, sealed and never left alone. He said there have been “slight modifications” to the machines’ software over the years, “but nothing drastic.”

“I am familiar with some reports of them being able to be hacked,” Benyo said. “But my concerns are limited because these machines are not left alone with anybody for a long enough period of time.”

However, Halderman, of the University of Michigan, was part of a team of researchers in 2006 that found a hacker with access to an AccuVote voting machine for just one minute could install malicious code on the machine to steal votes.

Lehigh County’s e-voting machines do not produce a paper record for voters because it is not required by the state, Benyo said. One-quarter of registered voters nationwide will cast ballots on Nov. 6 using electronic voting machines that do not produce paper ballots, according to VerifiedVoting.org, a nonprofit whose mission is to safeguard elections in the digital age.

Without paper ballots — which are counted using optical scan systems — elections officials have no way to go back and conduct an audit to see whether votes were counted correctly, security researchers say.

“You really can’t tell whether vote totals are accurate unless you have a paper ballot,” said David Dill, founder of VerifiedVoting.org.

In 2006, Maryland lawmakers passed a bill that called for state election officials to stop using Diebold’s AccuVote-TSx touchscreen systems, which the state has used since 2002, because the machines contained security flaws and did not produce a paper record, according to Computer World magazine.

But after the law passed, Gov. Martin O’Malley chose not to fund the purchase of new e-voting machines that produce paper ballots, according to Donna Duncan, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Board of Elections. On Nov. 6, polling places across Maryland will still use AccuVote touchscreen machines that don’t produce paper ballots.

“We have absolute confidence in the voting equipment,” Duncan said. “The security measures we put in place, we believe, are sufficient.”

Rethinking DNA Profiling in India

January 9, 2013 at 7:37 am | Posted in Critical Perspectives, Technology | Comments Off on Rethinking DNA Profiling in India

http://www.epw.in/web-exclusives/rethinking-dna-profiling-india.html

Rethinking DNA Profiling in India

Vol – XLVII No. 43, October 27, 2012 | Elonnai Hickok Web Exclusives
DNA profile databases can be useful tools in solving crime, but given that the DNA profile of a person can reveal very personal information about the individual, including medical history, family history and so on, a more comprehensive legislation regulating the collection, use, analysis and storage of DNA samples needs included in the draft Human DNA Profiling Bill.

Elonnai Hickok (elonnai@cis-india.org) is a Policy Associate with the Centre for Internet and Society.

DNA evidence was first accepted by the courts in India in 1985 1, and in 2005 the Criminal Code of Procedure was amended to allow for medical practitioners, after authorisation from a police officer who is not below the rank of sub-inspector, to examine a person arrested on the charge of committing an offence and with reasonable grounds that an examination of the individual will bring to light evidence regarding the offence. This can include

“the examination of blood, blood stains, semen, swabs in case of sexual offences, sputum and sweat, hair samples, and finger nail clippings, by the use of modern and scientific techniques including DNA profiling and such other tests which the registered medical practitioner thinks necessary in a particular case”.2
Though this provision establishes that authorisation is needed for collection of DNA samples, defines who can collect samples, creates permitted circumstances for collection, and lists material that can be collected, among other things, it does not address how the collected DNA evidence should be handled, and what will happen to the evidence after it is collected and analysed. These gaps in the provision indicate the need for a more comprehensive legislation regulating the collection, use, analysis and storage of DNA samples, including for crime-related purposes in India.

The initiative to draft a Bill regulating the use of DNA samples for crime-related reasons began in 2003, when the Department of Biotechnology (DoB) established a committee known as the DNA Profiling Advisory Committee to make recommendations for the drafting of the DNA profiling Bill 2006, which eventually became the Human DNA Profiling Bill 2007.3. The 2007 draft Bill was prepared by the DoB along with the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD).4 The CDFD is an autonomous institution supported by the DoB. In addition to the CDFD, there are multiple Central Forensic Science Laboratories in India under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Central Bureau of Investigation5, along with a number of private labs6 which analyse DNA samples for crime-related purposes.

In 2007, the draft Human DNA Profiling Bill was made public, but was never introduced in Parliament. In February 2012, a new version of the Bill was leaked. If passed, the Bill will establish state-level DNA databases which will feed into a national-level DNA database, and proposes to regulate the use of DNA for the purposes of

“enhancing protection of people in the society and the administration of justice”.7
The Bill will also establish a DNA Profiling Board responsible for 24 functions, including specifying the list of instances for human DNA profiling and the sources of collection, enumerating guidelines for storage and destruction of biological samples, and laying down standards and procedures for establishment and functioning of DNA laboratories and DNA Data Banks.8 The lack of harmonisation and clear policy indicates that there is a need in India for standardising the collection and use of DNA samples. Although DNA evidence can be useful for solving crimes, the current 2012 draft Bill is missing critical safeguards and technical standards essential to preventing the misuse of DNA and protecting individual rights.

Concerns that have been raised with regards to the Bill are both intrinsic, including problems with effectiveness of achieving the set objectives, and extrinsic, including concerns with the fundamental principles of the Bill. For example, the use of DNA material as evidence and the subsequent creation of a DNA database can be useful for solving crimes when the database contains DNA profiles 9 from DNA samples10 only from crime scenes, and is restricted to DNA profiles from individuals who might be repeat offenders. If a wide range of DNA profiles are added to the database, the effectiveness of the database decreases, and the likelihood of a false match increases as the ability to correctly identify a criminal depends on the number of crime scene DNA profiles on the database, and the number of false matches that occur is proportional to the number of comparisons made (more comparisons = more false matches).11 This inverse relationship between the effectiveness of the DNA database and the size of the database was found in the UK when it was proven that the expansion of the UK DNA database did not help to solve more crimes, despite millions of profiles being added to the database.12

The current scope of the draft 2012 Bill is not limited to crimes for which samples can be taken and placed in the database. Instead the Bill creates indexes within every databank including: crime scene indexes, suspects index, offender’s index, missing persons index, unknown deceased persons’ index, volunteers’ index, and such other DNA indices as may be specified by regulations made by the Board.13 How independent each of these indices are, is unclear. For example, the Bill does not specify when a profile is searched for in the database – if all indices are searched, or if only the relevant indices are searched, and the Bill requires that when a DNA profile is added to the databank, it must be compared with all the existing profiles.14 The Bill also lists a range of offences for which DNA profiling will be applicable and DNA samples collected, and used for the identification of the perpetrator including, unnatural offences, individual identification, issues relating to assisted reproductive technologies, adultery, outraging the modesty of women etc.15 Though the Bill is not incorrect in its list of offences where DNA profiling could be applicable, it is unclear if DNA profiles from all the listed offenses will be stored on the database. If it is the case that the DNA profiles will be stored, it would make the scope of the database too broad.

Unlike other types of identifiers, such as fingerprints, DNA can reveal very personal information about an individual, including medical history, family history and location.16 Thus, having a DNA database with a broad scope and adding more DNA profiles onto a database, increases the potential for misuse of information stored on the database, because there is more opportunity for profiling, tracking of individuals, and access to private data. In its current form, the Bill protects against such misuse to a certain extent by limiting the information that will be stored with a DNA profile and in the indices,17 but the Bill does not make it clear if the DNA profiles of individuals convicted for a crime will be stored and searched independently from other profiles. Additionally, though the Bill limits the use of DNA profiles and DNA samples to identification of perpetrators18, it allows for DNA profiles/DNA samples and related information related to be shared for creation and maintenance of a population statistics database that is to be used, as prescribed, for the purpose of identification research, protocol development, or quality control provided that it does not contain any personally identifiable information and does not violate ethical norms.”19

An indication of the possibility of how a DNA database could be misused in India can be seen in the CDFD’s stated objectives, where it lists “to create DNA marker databases of different caste populations of India.”20 CDFD appears to be collecting this data by requiring caste and origin of state to be filled in on the identification form that is submitted with any DNA sample.21 Though an argument could be made that this information could be used for research purposes, there appears to be no framework over the use of this information and this objective. Is the information stored along with the DNA sample? Is it used in criminal cases? Is it revealed during court cases or at other points of time?

Similarly, in the Report of the Working Group for the Eleventh Five Year Plan, it lists the following as a possible use of DNA profiling technology:

“Human population analysis with a view to elicit profiling of different caste populations of India to use them in forensic DNA fingerprinting and develop DNA databases.”22
This objective is based on the assumption that caste is an immutable genetic trait and seems to ignore the fact that individuals change their caste and that caste is not uniformly passed on in marriage. Furthermore, using caste for forensic purposes and to develop DNA databases could far too easily be abused and result in the profiling of individuals, and identification errors. For example, in 2011 the UK police, in an attempt to catch the night stalker Delroy Grant, used DNA to (incorrectly) predict that he originated from the Winward Islands. The police then used mass DNA screenings of black men. The police initially eliminated Delroy Grant as a suspect because another Delroy Grant was on the DNA database, and the real Delroy Grant was eventually caught when the police pursued more traditional forms of investigation.23

Other uses for DNA databases and DNA samples in India have been envisioned over the years. For example, in 2010 the state of Tamil Nadu sought to amend the Prisoners Identification Act 1920 to allow for the establishment of a prisoners’ DNA database – which would require that any prisoner’s DNA be collected and stored.24 In another example, the home page of BioAxis DNA Research Centre (P) Limited, a private DNA laboratory offering forensic services states, “In a country like India which is densely populated there is huge requirement for these type of databases which may help in stopping different types of fraud like Ration card fraud, Voter ID Card fraud, Driving license fraud etc. The database may help the Indian police to differentiate the criminals and non criminals.”25 Not only is this statement incorrect in stating that a DNA database will differentiate between criminals and non-criminals, but DNA evidence is not useful in stopping ration card fraud etc. as it would require that DNA be extracted and authenticated for every instance of service. In 2012, the Department of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at AFMC Pune proposed to establish a DNA data bank containing profiles of armed forces personnel.26 And in Uttar Pradesh, the government ordered mandatory sampling for DNA fingerprinting of dead bodies.27 These examples raise important questions about the scope of use, collection and storage of DNA profiles in databases that the Bill is silent on.

The assumption in the Bill that DNA evidence is infallible is another point of contention. The preamble of the Bill states that, “DNA analysis of body substances is a powerful technology that makes it possible to determine whether the source of origin of one body substance is identical to that of another, and further to establish the biological relationship, if any, between two individuals, living or dead with any doubt.”28 This statement ignores the possibility of false matches, cross-contamination, and laboratory error29 as DNA evidence is only as infallible as the humans collecting, analysing, and marshalling the evidence. These mistakes are not purely speculative, as cases that have relied on DNA as evidence in India demonstrate that the reliability of DNA evidence is questionable due to collection, analysis, and chain of custody errors. For example, in the Aarushi murder case the forensic expert who testified failed to remember which samples were collected at the scene of the crime30; in the French diplomat rape case, the DNA report came out with both negative and positive results;31 and in the Abhishek rape case the DNA sample had to be reanalysed after initial analysis did not prove conclusive.32 Yet the Bill does not mandate a set of best practices that could help in minimising these errors, such as defining what profiling system will be used nationally, and defining specific security measures that must be taken by DNA laboratories – all of which are currently left to be determined by the DNA board.33

The assumption in the preamble that DNA can establish if a relationship exists between two individuals without a doubt is also misleading as it implies that the use of DNA samples and the creation of a database will increase the conviction rate, when in actuality the exact number of accurate convictions resulting purely from DNA evidence is unknown, as is the number of innocent people who are falsely accused of a crime based on DNA evidence in India. This misconception is reflected on the website of the Department of Biotechnology’s information page for CDFD where it states:

“…The DNA fingerprinting service, given the fact that it has been shown to bring about dramatic increase in the conviction rate, will continue to be in much demand. With the crime burden on the society increasing, more and more requests for DNA fingerprinting are naturally anticipated. For example, starting from just a few cases of DNA fingerprinting per month, CDFD is now handling similar number of cases every day.”34
In addition to the claim that the DNA fingerprinting service has shown a dramatic increase in the conviction rate, is not supported by evidence in this article, according to the CDFD 2010-2011 annual report, the centre analysed DNA from 57 cases of deceased persons, 40 maternity/paternity cases, four rape and murder cases, eight sexual assault cases, and three kidney transplantation cases.35 This is in comparison to the 2006 – 2007 annual report, which quoted 83 paternity/maternity dispute cases, 68 identification of deceased, 11 cases of sexual assault, eight cases of murder, and two cases of wildlife poaching.36 From the numbers quoted in the CDFD annual report, it appears that paternity/maternity cases and identification of the deceased are the most frequent types of cases using DNA evidence.

Other concerns with the Bill include access controls to the database and rights of the individual. For example, the Bill does not require that a court order be issued for access to a DNA profile, and instead leaves it in the hand of the DNA bank manager to determine if communication of information relating to a match to a court, tribunal, law enforcement agency, or DNA laboratory is appropriate37. Additionally, the Data Bank Manager is empowered to grant access to any information on the database to any person or class of persons that he/she considers appropriate for the purposes of proper operation and maintenance or for training purposes.38 The low standards for access that are found in the Bill are worrisome as the possibility for tampering of evidence and analysis is increased.

The Bill is also missing important provisions that would be necessary to protect the rights of the individual. For example, individuals are not permitted a private cause of action for the unlawful collection, use, or retention of DNA, and individuals do not have the right to access their own information stored on the database.39 These are significant gaps in the proposed legislation as it restricts the rights of the individual.

In conclusion, India could benefit from having a legislation regulating, standardising, and harmonising the use, collection, analysis, and retention of DNA samples for crime-related purposes. The current 2012 draft of the Bill is a step in the right direction, and an improvement from the 2007 DNA Profiling Bill. The 2012 draft draws upon best practices from the US and Canada, but could also benefit from drawing upon best practices from countries like Scotland. Safeguards missing from the current draft that would strengthen the Bill include: limiting the scope of the DNA database to include only samples from a crime scene for serious crimes and not minor offenses, requiring the destruction of DNA samples once a DNA profile is created, clearly defining when a court order is needed to collect DNA samples, defining when consent is required and is not required from the individual for a DNA sample to be taken, and ensuring that the individual has a right of appeal.

1 Law Commission of India. Review of the Indian Evidence Act 1872. Pg. 43 Available at:http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/185thReport-PartII.pdf. Last accessed: October 9th 2012.

2 Section 53. The Criminal Code of Procedure, 1973. Available at:http://www.vakilno1.com/bareacts/crpc/s53.htm. Last accessed October 9th 2012.

3 Department of Biotechnology. Ministry of Science & Technology GOI. Annual Report 2009 – 2010. pg. 189. Available at: http://dbtindia.nic.in/annualreports/DBT-An-Re-2009-10.pdf. Last Accessed October 9th 2012.

4 Chhibber, M. Govt Crawling on DNA Profiling Bill, CBI urges it to hurry, cites China. The Indian Express. July 12 2010. Available at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt-crawling-on-dna-profiling-bill-cbi-urges-it-to-hurry-cites-china/645247/0. Last accessed: October 9th 2012.

5 Perspective Plan for Indian Forensics. Final report 2010. Table 64.1 -64.3 pg. 264-267. Available at: http://mha.nic.in/pdfs/IFS%282010%29-FinalRpt.pdf. Last accessed: October 9th 2012. And CBI Manual. Chapter 27. Available at: http://mha.nic.in/pdfs/IFS%282010%29-FinalRpt.pdf. Last accessed: October 9th 2012.

6 For example: International Forensic Sciences, DNA Labs India (DLI), Truth Labs and Bio-Axis DNA Research Centre (P) Limited

7 Draft Human DNA Profiling Bill 2012. Introduction

8 Id. section 12(a-z)

9 Id. Definition l. “DNA Profile” means results of analysis of a DNA sample with respect to human identification.

10 Id. Definition m. “DNA sample” means biological specimen of any nature that is utilized to conduct CAN analysis, collected in such manner as specified in Part II of the Schedule.

11 The UK DNA database and the European Court of Human Rights: Lessons India can learn from UK mistakes. PowerPoint Presentation. Dr. Helen Wallace, Genewatch UK. September 2012.

12 Hope, C. Crimes solved by DNA evidence fall despite millions being added to database. The Telegraph. November 12th 2008. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/3418649/Crimes-solved-by-DNA-evidence-fall-despite-millions-being-added-to-database.html. Last accessed: October 9th 2012

13 Draft Human DNA Profiling Bill 2012. Section 32 (4(a-g))

14 Id. Section 35

15 Id. Schedule: List of applicable instances of Human DNA Profiling and Sources of Collection of Samples for DNA Test.

16 Gruber J. Forensic DNA Databases. Council for Responsible Genetics. September 2012. Powerpoint presentation

17 Draft Human DNA Profiling Bill 2012. Section 32 (5)-((6)(a)-(b)). Indices will only contain DNA identification records and analysis prepared by the laboratory and approved by the DNA Board, while profiles in the offenders index will contain only the identity of the person, and other profiles will contain only the case reference number.

18 Id. Section 39

19 Id. Section 40(c)

20 CDFD. Annual Report 2010-2011. Pg19. Available at:http://www.cdfd.org.in/images/AR_2010_11.pdf. Last accessed: October 9th 2012.

21 Caste and origin of state is a field of information that is required to be completed when an ‘identification form’ is sent to the CDFD along with a DNA sample for analysis. Form available at:http://www.cdfd.org.in/servicespages/dnafingerprinting.html

22 Report of the Working Group for the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007 – 2012). October 2006. Pg. 152. Section: R&D Relating Services. Available at:http://planningcommission.nic.in/aboutus/committee/wrkgrp11/wg11_subdbt.pdf. Last accessed: October 9th 2012

23 Evans. M. Night Stalker: police blunders delayed arrest of Delroy Grant. March 24th 2011. The Telegraph. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8397585/Night-Stalker-police-blunders-delayed-arrest-of-Delroy-Grant.html. Last accessed: October 10th 2012.

24 Narayan, P. A prisoner DNA database: Tamil Nadu shows the way. May 17th 2012. Available at:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/A-prisoner-DNA-database-Tamil-Nadu-shows-the-way/iplarticleshow/5938522.cms. Last accessed: October 9th 2012.

25 BioAxis DNA Research Centre (P) Limited. Website Available at: http://www.dnares.in/dna-databank-database-of-india.php. Last accessed: October 10th 2012.

26Times of India. AFMC to open DNA profiling centre today. February 2012. Available at:http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-02-08/pune/31037108_1_dna-profile-dna-fingerprinting-data-bank. Last accessed: October 10th 2012.

27Siddiqui, P. UP makes DNA sampling mandatory with postmortem. Times of India. September 4th 2012. Available at:http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-09-04/lucknow/33581061_1_dead-bodies-postmortem-house-postmortem-report. Last accessed: October 10th 2012.

28 Draft DNA Human Profiling Bill 2012. Introduction

29 Council for Responsible Genetics. Overview and Concerns Regarding the Indian Draft DNA Profiling Bill. September 2012. Pg. 2. Available at: http://cis-india.org/internet-governance/indian-draft-dna-profiling-act.pdf/view. Last accessed: October 9th 2012.

30 DNA. Aarushi case: Expert forgets samples collected from murder spot. August 28th 2012. Available at: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_aarushi-case-expert-forgets-samples-collected-from-murder-spot_1733957. Last accessed: October 10th 2012.

31 India Today. Daughter rape case: French diplomat’s DNA test is inconclusive. July 7th 2012. Available at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/french-diplomat-father-rapes-daughter-dna-test-bangalore/1/204270.html. Last accessed: October 10th 2012.

32 The Times of India. DNA tests indicate Abhishek raped woman. May 30th 2006. Available at:http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2006-05-30/india/27826225_1_abhishek-kasliwal-dna-fingerprinting-dna-tests. Last accessed: October 10th 2012.

33 Draft Human DNA Profiling Bill 2012. Section 18-27.

34 Department of Biotechnology. DNA Fingerprinting & Diagnostics, Hyderabad. Available at:http://dbtindia.nic.in/uniquepage.asp?id_pk=124. Last accessed: October 10 2012.

35 CDFD Annual Report 2010 – 2011.Pg.19. Available at:http://www.cdfd.org.in/images/AR_2010_11.pdf. Last accessed: October 10th 2012.

36 CDFD Annual Report 2006-2007.Pg. 13. Available at:http://www.cdfd.org.in/images/AR_2006_07.pdf. Last accessed: October 10th 2012.

37 Draft Human DNA Profiling Bill 2012. Section 35

38 Id. Section 41.

39 Council for Responsible Genetics. Overview and Concerns Regarding the Indian Draft DNA Profiling Bill. September 2012. Pg. 9 Available at: http://cis-india.org/internet-governance/indian-draft-dna-profiling-act.pdf/view. Last accessed: October 9th 2012.

Is Sonia abdicating leadership?

January 9, 2013 at 7:35 am | Posted in Arguments Against | Comments Off on Is Sonia abdicating leadership?

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-139869-Is-Sonia-abdicating-leadership

Is Sonia abdicating leadership?

Praful Bidwai
Saturday, October 27, 2012
From Print Edition

The fanfare with which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi launched a public service delivery scheme in Rajasthan based on the Aadhaar (literally, foundation) unique identity (UID) number, and celebrated the issue of 200 million Aadhaar numbers nationally, should make the Indian National Congress a very worried party indeed – assuming it has good survival instinct.

To put it starkly, the Congress and with it, the United Progressive Alliance, are sleepwalking into a minefield with plans to roll out Aadhaar-enabled service delivery schemes in 51 districts in India, and later extend them to the entire country.

The Aadhaar-UID system is fraught with serious problems , which will affect poor people the most. To make entitlement to the Public Distribution System (for food), payment of wages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), and delivery of old-age pensions and scholarship payment Aadhaar-dependent is to expose them to unacceptable risk. Yet, the Rajasthan government has linked these and six more schemes to Aadhaar, including entitlements to subsidised medical treatment, rural housing for those officially recognised as BPL (living below-poverty-line), and payment to rural women who raise public awareness about health, nutrition and sanitation.

What’s wrong with Aadhaar? First of all, the 12-digit identity number generated by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) for each citizen is neither unique nor reliable. Aadhaar’s biometric techniques, involving a photograph, fingerprints and an iris scan, are untested. Experts point to many possible technical errors, including indistinct fingerprints due to calluses, and poor iris scans due to cataracts. The UIDAI mission director himself admits that fingerprints aren’t likely to work reliably for authentication. These errors could end up excluding up to 15 percent of the population.

Second, Aadhaar is susceptible to the same factors – bureaucratic lethargy, callousness towards the poor, and influence of the powerful – that result in inaccurate compilation of BPL lists, leading to the exclusion of 40 percent of poor people in many cases, and the inclusion of many non-poor.

Third, last year Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010, and termed the project “directionless” and “conceptualised with no clarity of purpose”. It also called the technology used “untested, unproven, unreliable and unsafe”. It raised concerns about privacy, identity theft, misuse, security of data and its duplication, and also noted the Planning Commission’s objections to Aadhaar.

These are matters of great gravity. No computer is foolproof against hacking; and data loss or theft has serious consequences. The committee strongly disapproved of the hasty manner in which the UID scheme was approved and implemented as “unethical and violative of Parliament’s prerogatives”.

Faced with these objections, UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani promised that Aadhaar would not be used as mandatory proof of identity for the provision of public services. But actual experience flies in the face of this. Indeed, it is proposed to make Aadhaar compulsory even for opening a bank account, and eventually convert all entitlements into Aadhaar-based cash transfers. Every exclusion of the genuinely poor from Aadhaar will heap yet more injustice upon them and cost the UPA votes.

Even more politically disastrous is the UPA’s deception and vacillation on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Bill. Land is probably the most important site of people’s struggles in defence of their livelihoods and survival rights.

The Bill was to be a generous improvement over the colonial Land Acquisition Act 1894 and touted as a major gain for farmers, and a great legacy of UPA-2, comparable to UPA-1’s NREGA. Originally, it was to exclude tribal lands and limit acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land to five percent of the total, to require the consent of 80 percent of both land losers and livelihood losers (e.g. agricultural workers, rural artisans, etc), to apply to ongoing land acquisition, and to provide compensation at four to six times the market value of land.

All this was diluted under pressure from the industry and urban development ministries to make the Bill “investor-friendly”. In the group of ministers (GoM) headed by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, said to be one of India’s biggest landowners, the 80 percent consent norm was downgraded to two-thirds of land losers – never mind the livelihood losers. Tribal land can be acquired, if as the “last resort”.

The proposed national manufacturing and investment zones (NMIZs) have been exempted from the Bill. It will only apply to future, not ongoing, land acquisitions. There will be a “sliding scale” of compensation, of between two and four times the market value. Besides, “linear projects” like railways, highways and power lines are exempted altogether.

Relief and rehabilitation obligations on private buyers, earlier mandatory for acquisitions above 100 acres, have been left to the discretion of the states. Promoters will only make a one-off payment into an escrow account and won’t build infrastructure for the affected people. The account will be managed by a special agency. It is not clear how responsive it will be.

Sonia Gandhi has intervened to restore the 80 percent consent norm for land losers, but that only partially undoes the harm. Even in its slightly improved form, the LARR Bill would at best be a cosmetic improvement over the 1894 Act. The National Alliance of People’s Movements says it will transfer “precious natural resources to private corporations and fuel corruption and land conflict”. The Bill’s main positive feature is that it mandates a Social Impact Assessment, including whether a project serves a public purpose, and evaluate its costs for the project-affected families, with public hearings. The SIA report would be examined by an expert group, with some non-governmental representatives, including two social scientists.

However, as past experience with the corrupted Environmental Impact Assessment process shows, the SIA is no guarantee that the project will be properly assessed. Besides, the Bill has accepted the industry lobby’s demand that the SIA be completed within six months – an almost impossible task if an in-depth assessment is to be made and scrutinised.

India has displaced 60 million people from land since Independence – the population of Britain. Land has become the hottest subject of contestation between the people, on the one hand, and corporate interests and the state, on the other. Not only is land crucial to people’s right to live, it is also tied up with control over the natural resources it holds, including water, forests and minerals.

Under the present neoliberal model of capitalism, corporations invade nature in ways they have never done before. They take over land – and why, water and air – and forcibly turn them into commodities. All Third World countries, especially fast-growing ones, are witnessing a modified repetition of what England saw in the 18 century – enclosures of the Commons, or common property resources, including farmland and pastures – only at a faster pace, and with greater ruthlessness.

The UPA is facilitating this in India to feed corporate greed. Clearly, Sonia Gandhi has decided to abdicate her responsibility to exercise a moderating influence on the UPA and push pro-people measures. She has probably convinced herself, perhaps against her own instincts, that GDP growth is all-important; to engineer it, India needs investment, whatever the cost. The UPA will end up paying heavily for this Himalayan misjudgment.

The writer, a former newspaper editor, is a researcher and peace and human-rights activist based in Delhi. Email: prafulbidwai1 @yahoo.co.in

US case puts face on ‘total identity theft’ng Services

January 9, 2013 at 7:33 am | Posted in Fake ID's, Int'l NID Card | Comments Off on US case puts face on ‘total identity theft’ng Services

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/us-case-puts-face-on-total-identity-theft/1021045/0

US case puts face on ‘total identity theft’ng Services
Agencies : Wichita, Tue Oct 23 2012, 18:06 hrs

When Candida L. Gutierrez’s identity was stolen, the thief didn’t limit herself to opening fraudulent credit and bank accounts. She assumed Gutierrez’s persona completely, using it to get a job, a driver’s license, a mortgage and even medical care for the birth of two children.

All the while, the crook claimed the real Gutierrez was the one who had stolen her identity. The women’s unusual tug-of-war puts a face on “total identity theft”, a brazen form of the crime in which con artists go beyond financial fraud to assume many other aspects of another person’s life.

The scheme has been linked to illegal immigrants who use stolen Social Security numbers to get paid at their jobs, and authorities fear the problem could soon grow to ensnare more unsuspecting Americans.

“When she claimed my identity and I claimed it back, she was informed that I was claiming it too,” said Gutierrez, a 31-year-old elementary schoolteacher. “She knew I was aware and that I was trying to fight, and yet she would keep fighting. It is not like she realized and she stopped. No, she kept going, and she kept going harder.”

A 32-year-old illegal immigrant named Benita Cardona-Gonzalez is accused of using Gutierrez’s identity during a 10-year period when she worked at a Topeka company that packages refrigerated foods.

For years, large numbers of illegal immigrants have filled out payroll forms using their real names but stolen Social Security numbers. However, as electronic employment verification systems such as E-Verify become more common, the use of fake numbers is increasingly difficult. Now prosecutors worry that more people will try to fool the systems by assuming full identities rather than stealing the numbers alone.

For victims, total identity theft can also have serious health consequences if electronic medical records linked to Social Security numbers get mixed up, putting at risk the accuracy of important patient information such as blood types or life-threatening allergies.

Federal Trade Commission statistics show that Americans reported more than 2,79,000 instances of identity theft in 2011, up from 2,51,100 a year earlier. While it is unclear how many of those cases involve total identity theft, one possible indicator is the number of identity theft complaints that involve more than one type of identity theft — 13 per cent last year, compared with 12 per cent a year earlier.

Nationwide, employment-related fraud accounted for 8 per cent of identity theft complaints last year. But in states with large immigrant populations, employment-related identity fraud was much higher: 25 per cent in Arizona, 15 per cent in Texas, 16 per cent in New Mexico, 12 per cent in California.

Prosecutors say that the longer a person uses someone else’s identity, the more confident the thief becomes using that identity for purposes other than just working.

Once they have become established in a community, identity thieves don’t want to live in the shadows and seek a normal life like everybody else. That’s when they take the next step and get a driver’s license, a home loan and health insurance.

“And so that is a natural progression, and that is what we are seeing,” said Assistant US Attorney Brent Anderson, who is prosecuting the case against Gutierrez’s imposter.

Gutierrez first learned her identity had been hijacked when she was turned down for a mortgage more than a decade ago. Now each year she trudges to the Social Security Administration with her birth certificate, driver’s license, passport and even school yearbooks to prove her identity and clear her employment record.

She spends hours on the phone with creditors and credit bureaus, fills out affidavits and has yet to clean up her credit history. Her tax records are a mess. She even once phoned the imposter’s Kansas employer in a futile effort to find some relief.

Both women claimed they were identity theft victims and sought to get new Social Security numbers. The Social Security Administration turned down the request from Gutierrez, instead issuing a new number to the woman impersonating her. And in another ironic twist, Gutierrez was forced to file her federal income tax forms using a special identification number usually reserved for illegal immigrants.

“It is such a horrible nightmare,” Gutierrez said. “You get really angry, and then you start realizing anger is not going to help. … But when you have so much on your plate and you keep such a busy life, it is really such a super big inconvenience. You have to find the time for someone who is abusing you.”

When Gutierrez recently got married, her husband began researching identity theft on the Internet and stumbled across identity theft cases filed against other illegal immigrants working at Reser’s Fine Foods, the same manufacturer where Cardona-Gonzalez worked. He contacted federal authorities in Kansas and asked them to investigate the employee working there who had stolen his wife’s identity.

The alleged imposter was arrested in August, and her fingerprints confirmed that immigration agents had encountered Cardona-Gonzalez in 1996 in Harlingen, Texas, and sent her back to Mexico.

Cardona-Gonzalez did not respond to a letter sent to her at the Butler County jail, where she is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated identity theft, misuse of a Social Security number and production of a false document.

Her attorney, Matthew Works, did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment. Court filings indicate the two sides are negotiating a plea agreement.

Citing privacy issues, the Social Security Administration declined to discuss the Gutierrez case. Reser’s Fine Foods did not return a message left at its Topeka plant.

Anderson expects more cases of total identity theft “because we all know what is going on out there — which is thousands and thousands of people who are working illegally in the United States under false identities, mostly of US citizens, and very little is being done about it. But we are doing something about it, one case at a time.”

How Congress may use cash transfers as the main weapon in the 2014 elections

January 9, 2013 at 7:32 am | Posted in Arguments For | Comments Off on How Congress may use cash transfers as the main weapon in the 2014 elections

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/how-congress-may-use-cash-transfers-as-the-main-weapon-in-the-2014-elections/articleshow/17013537.cms

How Congress may use cash transfers as the main weapon in the 2014 elections

Story
Comments (3)

Going by the Aadhaar event earlier this month in Rajasthan, the Congress Party wants to use cash transfers as a main weapon in the 2014 elections. ET outlines the work ahead to get this going, and the pros and cons of such a strategy.

It was an event by the governments of India and Rajasthan. Yet, everything about the meeting-people, flags, hoardings, public mobilisation-at Dudu village in Rajasthan on October 20 showed it was of the Congress, by the Congress, for the Congress.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi, finance minister P Chidambaram, five other cabinet ministers and Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot helicoptered down to this village on the Jaipur-Alwar highway to tell a 30,000-strong audience about cash transfers and Aadhaar. They delivered a flurry of speeches on the advantages of welfare and subsidy benefits flowing directly into people’s bank accounts.

Then came five videos showing how such cash transfers, based on the unique identity number called Aadhaar, can eliminate middlemen and improve convenience for those accessing their LPG and PDS entitlements, pensions and NREGA wages. Shortly after this, Gehlot announced that soon only those with Aadhaar cards would be able to access state welfare programmes in Rajasthan. Locals say this part of Rajasthan had been seeing an Aadhaar enrolment drive in the 10 days leading up to the event.

And the event seemed choreographed to ensure participation in even greater numbers. As such, that day at Dudu revived a question doing the rounds in Delhi for some time now: is the Congress planning to use cash transfers as a key weapon in the 2014 elections at the Centre? “No doubt about it,” says a Delhi-based political analyst, who did not want to be named. “Look at how Aadhaar is being pushed in Congress-ruled states-that is where they have most of their seats.”

On October 25, the PM also set up a panel-headed by himself, and comprising key ministers and bureaucrats-to coordinate cash transfers. The political analyst says cash transfers is the party’s answer to the anti-corruption movement. “If they can transfer the money, eliminating even half the middlemen, there will be goodwill.” It was goodwill of a similar kind that brought the Congress-led UPA back to power in 2009.

Back then, it came from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), which assured 100 days of work in a year to every household. By 2006, the UPA-I coalition had passed this law, along with the Right To Information Act and the Forest Rights Act. Thus, it gave itself three years for these laws to be implemented on the ground, touch people’s lives and translate into votes. Time is running out for the UPA-II , whose term ends in May 2014.

Cash transfers: UIDAI’s newest battle is with finance ministry wing, DFS

January 9, 2013 at 7:31 am | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Cash transfers: UIDAI’s newest battle is with finance ministry wing, DFS

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-10-30/news/34817459_1_aadhaar-unique-identification-authority-cash-transfers

Cash transfers: UIDAI’s newest battle is with finance ministry wing, DFS

M Rajshekhar, ET Bureau Oct 30, 2012, 05.59AM IST
Tags:
(UIDAI’s latest skirmish…)

 

In its short life, the Unique Identification Authority of India(UIDAI) has seen its fair share of skirmishes. Its latest skirmish is with an arm of the finance ministry, thedepartment of financial services (DFS), the genesis of which can be traced back to their different models to make payments.

So, when the government transfers money, to avoid duplication, it does so only to Aadhaar-verified accounts. Likewise, for transactions. When a villager wants to, say, withdraw money from her bank account, her fingerprint will be verified on a handheld machine of an agent. That scan will travel for instant verification to the central database.


On verification, the agent gives her the money. The DFS has other ideas. Under its current secretary, DK Mittal, it has been aggressively pursuing its mandate of financial inclusion. A senior official of DFS says, on the condition of anonymity, its thinking is that Aadhaar will take time to reach everyone and that cash transfers can be rolled out without Aadhaar. A senior UIDAI official, who did not want to be named, describes this as a purely “anti-Aadhaar play”.

The DFS plan rides on an architecture created by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), which was set up to create a national payment architecture. This National Accounts Clearing House (NACH) can make cash transfers into beneficiary accounts using their IFSC codes and bank account numbers. This system, which is essentially a beefed up version of the Electronic Clearing System (ECS), can handle 10 million transactions a day now and 40 million transactions per day after six months.

Eventually, says M Balakrishnan, chief operating officer of NPCI, the Aadhaar payments bridge will be subsumed into the NACH. “This will give the government flexibility to use either Aadhaar or bank accounts to make payments,” he says. But the story gets complicated as one moves closer to the field. NACH is not Aadhaar-dependent-it doesn’t use Aadhaar to identify the beneficiary’s bank account, but rather uses IFSC codes and bank account numbers.

As such, it is akin to the systems already being followed by the government to make NREGA payments electronically. District administration and panchayat officials send to the state department a list of those who worked on a worksite, their bank account numbers and the amounts to be paid to each of them. The state department, in turn, asks the lead bank to credit the money into the workers’ accounts.

The UIDAI official says the DFS-NPCI model does not close the payment loop. “Aadhaar has created a system where biometric authentication at the last mile also tells us the correct person got the money,” he says.

“In the DFS system, that loop of confirmation-the targeted beneficiary received the money-will not be closed.” Put another way, the UIDAI system uses biometrics to verify twicewhen money is deposited into an account and when money is withdrawn from it. By comparison, the DFS-NPCI model does it only in the second leg, by verifying biometrics with the bank; in the first leg, it relies on bank account number.

DIVISIONS OF A SCHEME

January 9, 2013 at 7:28 am | Posted in Arguments For | Comments Off on DIVISIONS OF A SCHEME

http://www.newslaundry.com/2013/01/divisions-of-a-scheme/
DIVISIONS OF A SCHEME
POSTED BY ANAND VARDHAN | JANUARY 8, 2013 IN CRITICLES, CRITIQUE | 1 COMMENT

“People have called it a gamechanger, a revolutionary idea, etc. But I say it is pure magic… With the Direct Benefits Transfer Scheme (DBTS), money released from Delhi immediately reaches the bank account of the intended beneficiary. It is just like magic.”
– P Chidambaram, Union Finance Minister, inaugurating the 1,000th branch of the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur in Jaipur on December 22, 2012 (The Hindu)

“It (the Direct Cash Benefits Transfer Scheme) is not a single jaadu ki chhadi (magic wand). It is an experiment. The world’s largest experiment in administrative reform.”

– Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister for Rural Development, launching DBTS for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) at Gollaprolu in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh on January 6, 2013 (PTI)

If you were following the Raisina Hill grapevine, you would be tempted to view the “magic” phrase in Ramesh’s statement as a not-so-veiled attack on Chidambaram’s “magical” expectations from the Direct Cash Benefits Transfer Scheme. When Pranab Mukherjee had vacated the finance minister’s chair for his Presidential innings in Rashtrapati Bhawan, the rumour mills were working overtime. You were made privy to the Union Rural Development Minister’s letters, with rumours doing rounds that he was posting his prescriptions for an ailing economy to Janpath as well as 7 Race Course as credentials for his claim on the Finance Ministry. As things stand, he heads the same office while Chidambaram got back the office he had been reportedly yearning for – the Finance Ministry. However, the truth could be more bland, and taking such a dig/swipe may not hold. In context of the Direct Cash Benefits Transfer Scheme, both might be right in their own ways, and the truth may lie somewhere in between.
The complete versions of their statements show that both ministers are votaries of the scheme and echo optimism for the scheme. The only point of departure is in the degree of caution that both plead for the full feasibility of the scheme. While Chidambaram has simply asked for patience to help the scheme realise its full potential, Ramesh has placed his riders as cautionary notes for roadblocks ahead. In an assessment bordering on cautious optimism, Ramesh said: “It is the world’s largest experiment in administrative reform. It has problems on the ground. It will have problems with banks, post offices and online connectivity. We have embarked on this. We will resolve these issues as we go along”.

However, the scheme has not gone down too well with a section of National Advisory Council (NAC) members, civil society activists, agrarian experts, economists and public intellectuals. Their note of dissent has been in the public domain for some time now. The Economic and Political Weekly (January 5, 2013) carries a letter signed by a long list of anti-cash transfer voices. Among other things, the letter says:

We oppose the government’s plan for accelerated mass conversion of welfare schemes to Unique Identification Authority (UID)-driven cash transfers. This plan could cause havoc and massive social exclusion.

An impression has been created that the government is all set to launch UID-enabled cash transfers on a mass scale before the 2014 elections. This is very misleading, and looks like an attempt to make people rush to UID enrolment centres. This announcement also diverts attention from the government’s failure to enact a NFSA. The food security bill, very weak in the first place, has been languishing with a Standing Committee for a whole year. Meanwhile, food stocks are accumulating on an unprecedented scale. The need of the hour is a comprehensive NFSA, not a potentially disruptive rush for UID-driven cash transfers.
(Signed by – M S Swaminathan, Bezwada Wilson, Shantha Sinha, Veena Shatrugna, Aruna Roy, Gautam Mody, Jean Drèze, Bina Agarwal, Utsa Patnaik, Amiya Kumar Bagchi, and 198 others).

The binary seems to have got entrenched in media debates on the issue too, predictably on the lines of pro/anti positions. What has been a serious gap in media discourse on this issue is that it has never attempted to educate the public on the implications, regulations and relative merits and limitations of the scheme beyond the pole positions of for/against polemics.
However, there have been examples of some well-informed opinion pieces which have sought to analyse, and then judge, the issue in multiple perspectives. On New Year’s day, economist Abhijit Banerjee’s piece New Day, New Start (The Hindustan Times, January 1, 2013) was remarkable in this respect. His insights into the merits and potential dangers of the scheme as well as into the motivations and mindsets of its advocates and critics is an example of reflective commentary which could enrich discourse on the issue. To sum up his arguments on either side of the divide, here is a capsule:

Advantages:
1. This to me is one great advantage of Aadhaar. In the end my fingertips and my cornea are mine. No one else will be able to claim that he is me, and I should almost always be able to demonstrate that I am. That means that it is now possible to stop Ram from collecting Raghu’s kerosene, and Raghu not be deprived because his ration card got soaked when the rain came in through the broken roof. Moreover, now that every entitlement can be linked to a single ID, it should be possible to prevent Ram from collecting both subsidised kerosene and LPG cylinders at less than half the market price, given that the law says that no one can have both.

(Like everything else in India, it will not work perfectly. Some will be asked for bribes, though the fact that, unlike in the case of the ration card, they could just go elsewhere to get their number will protect them to some extent.)

Others will be turned away because their fingers don’t print, despite the fact that the Aadhaar rules say that no one can be refused. Sometimes the computers will freeze and the networks will be down, despite all attempts to build in backups. But then the comparison should not be with some ideal system that runs perfectly, but with the extant systems for an ID (a passport or a ration card), which can be infuriating, to say the least.

2. We are told that people do not like cash – they want food and fuel. I have more faith in actual outcomes. The one study that I know of cash versus food, conducted by the Gandhian trade union SEWA in some Delhi slums, found that a move to cash made no difference in people’s cereal consumption but helped them when they had medical emergencies. There was no effect on consumption of alcohol or other “bads”. Moreover out of 100 people who were switched to cash, only four volunteered to go back to food when offered the choice after six months of cash. However this is one small study, with little pretence of being scientific about controlling other factors that might have changed, and we absolutely need to wait for other, better evidence (there is a study in Andhra Pradesh that is about to announce its results)
Limitations and Potential Dangers

1. The point is not to treat it as a done deal, a solution to everything that goes wrong in government transfer programmes. Even with Aadhaar we would need to find a way to stop politicians and bureaucrats from putting their friends on the BPL lists. Is there a way to be creative about verifications that make that harder? At a more mundane level, given that there are bound to be glitches, should we not worry about the current push to start using the Aadhaar infrastructure for real government programmes before it has been field-tested through its uses in getting bank accounts and cell-phones? What is the right way to roll it out?

2. When the Aadhaar infrastructure is in place and working well, which I predict will happen soon enough, would it not become extremely tempting for governments facing elections to start giving away larger and larger sums of money in key constituencies, given that money can be transferred to hundreds of millions of Aadhaar accounts with the press of a button? What stops an explosion of populism?

The Prescription – The Way Ahead

All political parties should agree on a number, some fixed fraction of GDP that can be used for all transfers, cash and non-cash – including the many boondoggles that we offer to the rich. If the government wants to give away more cash, it will have to cut back somewhere else, and perhaps this will persuade it to rein in the more egregious of our transfers to those who don’t need it, such as the subsidy on LPG.

As the state shows some semblance of seriousness in getting its public delivery system in order, media discourse on the issues of welfare schemes, development administration and delivery mechanisms also needs to widen the terms of its engagement with public administration issues. It requires a healthy mix of policy education, assessment and critical inquiry. The year started on one such contribution to the media’s critical landscape. Hope the space expands for engagement with such seminal issues of democratic citizenship.

Gangs faking Aadhaar, credit cards busted

January 9, 2013 at 7:26 am | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Gangs faking Aadhaar, credit cards busted

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Gangs-faking-Aadhaar-credit-cards-busted/articleshow/17933486.cms

Gangs faking Aadhaar, credit cards busted
TNN | Jan 8, 2013, 04.18 AM IST

BANGALORE: Three men who manufactured fake identity cards and bank documents have been arrested. The trio allegedly created fake Aadhaar, PAN and voter ID cards, besides demand drafts and cheques at their home.

“The fraud was exposed when they sought to encash a cheque purportedly issued by a family court in Mysore,” said DCP (Central) BR Ravikanthe Gowda.

The arrested were identified as Harish Kumar A alias Harshavardhana, 26, of Sharadadevi Nagar in Mysore, G Shanmugam, 35, of Kodlu Village, Singasandra, off Hosur Road, and Rajashekharan alias Raje Gowda, 53, of KP Agrahara, off Magadi Road.

“The trio faked demand drafts and cheques of ING Vysya Bank, State Bank of Mysore and Bank of Baroda and encashed them. When we raided the premises of Rajashekharan, we found printers, computers and CPUs that were used in making the fake proofs and seals,” said the DCP.

They purchased cars with fake credit cards

Jayanagar police arrested 14 persons and seized 27 fake credit cards which they swiped at malls, electronic shops and other business establishments to make huge purchases. The cards were in the name of two major private Indian banks and a few multinational ones.

“Using these credit cards, the accused purchased a Toyota Innova car, a Mahindra Scorpio, 11 two-wheelers, high-end watches, electronic gadgets like mobile phones and gold jewellery. We are yet to estimate the total worth of goods they have purchased. The kingpin of the racket, Jayakumar, is among the arrested. He had joined hands with another agent Gunashekharan, who brought the fake cards from Malaysia. Gunashekharan is absconding,” said DCP (South) HS Revanna.

He was earlier arrested by Sampigehalli police and was out on bail. He also used to sell fake credit cards for a price

Technology can be used to fight corruption: Nilekani

January 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Posted in Arguments For | Comments Off on Technology can be used to fight corruption: Nilekani

http://www.livemint.com/Politics/HsfDmf6cKiMoeOfBceD3DL/Technology-can-be-used-to-fight-corruption-Nilekani.html

Technology can be used to fight corruption: Nilekani

UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani. Photo: Manvender Vashist/PTI<br />
UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani. Photo: Manvender Vashist/PTI
Suggestion comes as debate over corruption has been revived thanks to fresh accusations by Arvind Kejriwal
Liz Mathew | Anuja

Updated: Fri, Nov 02 2012. 01 30 AM IST
New Delhi: Technology can be deployed effectively to fight corruption, precluding the need for fresh legislation or oversight bodies such as the Lokpal but this requires a change in mindset, said Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

The suggestion from Nilekani comes as the debate over corruption has been revived thanks to fresh accusations by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal. In contrast with the civil and political action proposed by Kejriwal and his team, Nilekani suggested the use of technology to ensure that benefits reach their intended targets.

Nilekani classified corruption into three types—large-deal corruption, retail-level corruption and tax evasion.
“When you have a welfare system, it increases the number of touch points between the resident and the state,” Nilekani said while delivering the 19th Lovraj Kumar memorial lecture on “Tackling Corruption-Some Alternative Approaches” on Thursday. “The moment you create a non-choice system of public delivery, the choice rests with the supplier. Is there then a way to use technology to give a choice?” Nilekani asked, referring to the usage of the Aadhar or unique ID card in the supply chain.

Nilekani stressed the need for a new debate on solving the issue of corruption. “There is no silver bullet that will weed out corruption. There cannot be an ad-hoc, knee-jerk reaction to complicated issues of governance,” he said. The late Lovraj Kumar, India’s first Rhodes Scholar, was a civil servant who played a key part in formulating the country’s economic policies between about 1960 and the mid 1980s.

Unconstitutional And Illegal Biometrics Collection Laws And Practices In India

January 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Unconstitutional And Illegal Biometrics Collection Laws And Practices In India
http://hrpic.blogspot.in/2012/09/unconstitutional-and-illegal-biometrics-collection-laws-and-practices-in-india.html

Unconstitutional And Illegal Biometrics Collection Laws And Practices In India

India is passing through one of the “Most Dangerous Periods” for Civil Liberties and Human Rights Protections. No time in the past Indian Citizens were so “Vulnerable” to Human Rights Violations and blatant violation of their Fundamental Rights.
The Constitution of India has conferred many Fundamental Rights upon Indian Citizens and Persons. However, Indian Government is acting in clear “Derogation” of these Fundamental Rights and Human Rights.
Article 21 of Indian Constitution confers Privacy Rights in India to all. Similarly, Article 21 also confers Right to Life and Liberty to all that cannot be taken away except by “Due Process of Law”. Articles 14, 19 and 21 collectively protect against “Arbitrary and Unconstitutional State Actions”.
Despite all these “Protections and Rights” we have Authorities likeUnique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that is not governed by any Law whatsoever. Similarly, we have provisions pertaining to National Population Register (NPR) of India that are clearly “Unconstitutional”.

We have no dedicated Data Protection Laws in IndiaData Security Laws in IndiaCyber Security Laws in India, etc. Even the Cyber Law of India, incorporated in the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000), is an “Endemic E-Surveillance Enabling Law” that requires urgent “Repeal”.

Cyber Security in India is also in bad shape and even the Supreme Court of India has chided Indian Government to boost up its Cyber Security to protect National Security of India. National Security and Right to Information in India are on “Crossroads” where the “National Security Card” is very frequently played by Indian Government to deny “Legitimate and Eligible Information” to Indian Citizens.
In all this “Political and Legislative Mess” we have a “Bonus” for Indian Government as well. The Parliamentary Oversight of Intelligence Agencies of India is missing and they are “Not Accountable” to any “Legislative and Parliamentary Scrutiny”.  Intelligence related Projects like National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID),Central Monitoring System (CMS) of India, proposed National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) of India, etc have no Parliamentary Approval and Oversight.
There is no second opinion that collection of “Highly Sensitive Biometric Details” by any Governmental Agency or Authority in such circumstances is not only “Unconstitutional” but is also “Highly Risky” for Life and Liberty of Indian Citizens/Persons. In fact, collection of Biometric Details by UIDAI and NPR are clearly “Unconstitutional and Illegal” and Indian Citizens and Residents can “Refuse” to provide the same no matter what these Authorities and Laws say.
Human Rights Protection in India is at its nadir. Similarly, Civil Liberties Protection in Indian Cyberspace is in doldrums. If we keep on succumbing to the “Pressure Tactics” of Indian Government, the day would be not far when Indian Government would have complete control over our “Body and Soul”.

Rail ID rule is anti-poor

January 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Rail ID rule is anti-poor
http://dc.asianage.com/editorial/rail-id-rule-anti-poor-930

Rail ID rule is anti-poor

Nov 03, 2012

The Indian Railways’ decision making it mandatory for all passengers with reserved accommodation on trains to carry valid identity cards is doubtless well-intentioned, as it should help eliminate middlemen and touts who make a killing by blocking train tickets and selling them at a premium. But this regulation, to be effective from December 1, is invidious and, on the face of it, anti-poor.

To ask rail passengers to carry ID cards in a nation in which less than 10 per cent of people possess any such documentation is effectively to discriminate against all those, including the large numbers of migrant labour, who might need to travel at short notice. The problem of fake bookings lies in a nexus between babus who staff the reservation system and touts. The railways should tackle that problem rather than trouble passengers or allow them to be fleeced by checking staff, which is what will almost certainly happen when this regulation comes into force.
At a time when even the issuing of Aadhar cards is at an incipient stage, enforcement of the ID card rule will be another bugbear. Ideally, every Indian, including the poorest, should have a valid ID so that all government benefits can flow to the right recipients rather than see them leak into the wrong hands. To arm each of 1.2 billion Indians with an identity card is, however, a Herculean task that may take many years. Official India needs to recognise the problems that exist before it tries to implement unenforceable rules.

KDMC ‘Corporators’ are issuing Aadhar Cards in Kalyan!

January 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on KDMC ‘Corporators’ are issuing Aadhar Cards in Kalyan!
http://www.jaimaharashtranews.com/en/maharashtra/kdmc-corporators-are-issuing-aadhar-cards-in-kalyan/

KDMC ‘Corporators’ are issuing Aadhar Cards in Kalyan!

By अजिंक्य भातंब्रेकर | ajinkya.bhatambrekar@jaimaharashtranews.com | 03 Nov Sat, 2012 | Updated 4:30 pm IST

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Kalyan: Aadhar card, which is the photo identity proof of your citizenship is being made illegally in Kalyan and Dombivali. Shockingly, Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation’s (KDMC) corporators are interfering in this whole illegal process. And more shockingly, KDMC deputy commissioner agreed this fact. But he clarified that corporators doesn’t have any right or authority to give the Aadhar card to the citizens.

Our Jai Maharashtra’s reporter got the wind of this shocking matter which was being operated at Kalyan’s Beturkar Pada area. When he went there and inquired about the whole incident, some shocking revelations came out. People, who doesn’t have the adequate proofs of their residential area were being given these Aadhar Cards by merely showing the Corporators’ reference application.

About this incident, our reporter asked a question to KDMC deputy commissioner Ganesh Deshmukh. And Deshmukh agreed that this kind of incidents are happening in that area. But Deshmukh also told that, “corporators are not allowed to authorise such kind of important identity proofs without KDMC’s consent. It is totally illegal.”

That is how Jai Maharashtra revealed all these illegal wrongdoings were done by the KDMC corporators. These corporators are doing these things just to secure their vote bank, which is very sad. But something needs to be done about this as soon as possible.

Number games before NRC update

January 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Posted in Arguments For, Process | Comments Off on Number games before NRC update
http://sevensisterspost.com/number-games-before-nrc-update/

Number games before NRC update

Pankaj Borthakur, Guwahati (Nov 2): Brushing aside earlier apprehensions, the government has decided to go ahead with issuing the Unique Identification (UID) number to residents in Assam like other states where the exercise has already reached an advanced stage.

The 16-digit number, also called Aadhar, would be given to residents in Assam on the basis of the data compiled in the 2011 Census. The number, however, will not give citizenship status to the holder.

The main objective is to compile a centralized database of all inhabitants in the country. A highly placed official at the state home department said: “The number will not grant citizenship to anybody and so there is no point in delaying the exercise.”

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) is implementing the project through the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which is headed by former Infosys chief executive officer Nandan Nilekani. It has also opened an office in Guwahati.

The authority had concluded a memorandum of understanding with the state government in 2010 for the project but it has been delayed since it would depend heavily on the Census data.

Digitisation of the data for Assam is yet to be completed by the Census department in New Delhi. Other documents like ration cards, driving licences, bank passbooks and local residence certificates would also be taken into account for issuing the card.

Scanning of eye retinas and finger prints is mandatory in the process of registering under the UID system to prevent duplication of identities. In the Northeast, Tripura and Sikkim are the other states where the project has reached an advanced stage.

“In Assam, the works are being initiated while in Tripura about 90 per cent has already been completed,” said assistant director general of UIDAI, Devajit Khound.

But unlike these two states, the exercise in Assam passed through a phase of indecisiveness and confusion. The authority had initiated preliminary work for data collection in 2010 in Guwahati only to stop it after a few months.

When the scheme was announced by the Centre years ago, it raised concern among the indigenous population and civil society organisations in the state since it was imagined that the Aadhar card would serve as the basis for claiming citizenship.

The opposition has, however, fizzled out after it was known that the aim of the scheme is only to generate data. On the contrary, top officials are of the view that the database would help in detection of alien citizens since they would not be able forge their identities after being given registered.

They added that the database could be an “effective tool” to update the National Register of Citizens which is expected to be started soon in upper Assam.

“But the government must ensure us that no illegal migrant would be able to use the card as an evidence to claim citizenship,” said Aasu adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhatacharyya.

State Aadhaar coverage crosses 80% mark

January 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Process | Comments Off on State Aadhaar coverage crosses 80% mark

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-05/goa/34926033_1_aadhaar-cards-aadhaar-numbers-aadhaar-project

State Aadhaar coverage crosses 80% mark

TNN Nov 5, 2012, 03.29AM IST

PANAJI: The Aadhaar card coverage in Goa has crossed 80%, probably the highest in the country. Authorities are hoping to achieve 100% coverage in Goa by December end.

Vijay Saxena, joint director, department of planning, statistics and evaluation, which is the nodal department for Aadhaar project in Goa, said that till date there are 71 stations operating to enroll citizens under Aadhaar all over Goa.

Since August 2011, when the aadhaar project was launched in Goa, 11,85,278 people have been enrolled under Aadhaar. From this, 10,66,750 Aadhaar cards have already been issued.

But Saxena said that when Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), visited Goa on August 30, 2012, he assured to expedite issue of the Aadhaar cards that have not been issued yet. Saxena also referred to the fact that it is essential for citizens to have Aadhaar cards to avail many of the government’s social welfare schemes. “Beneficiaries of such schemes should not panic if they have not received their Aadhaar cards. Till the time they receive the card, the enrollment ID number given on acknowledgment slip will be accepted by the authorities,” Saxena said.

The joint director said that Aadhaar cards that have been issued are already being used by citizens in various ways including opening of bank accounts in nationalized banks. Saxena pointed out that, the chief minister has announced that from April 1, 2013, no benefits of schemes will be released unless Aadhaar numbers are provided by beneficiaries. Importantly, there are no complaints against the already issued Aadhaar cards in Goa.

Saxena said the UIDAI chairman has praised Goa’s success in the Aadhaar project. Nilekani not only appreciated Goa’s high coverage but also praised the quality of enrollment in Goa, due to which rejection is less than 1%. In other states, the rejection is as high as 8%. Saxena said that Nilekani also praised chief minister Manohar Parrikar for showing commitment to making beneficiary-oriented schemes in Goa Aadhaar compliant.

Nilekani’s appreciation of Goa’s initiatives resulted in the UIDAI approving the state’s proposal to make various social welfare schemes Aadhaar compliant. The department of planning, statistics and evaluation had proposed that various Goan schemes like Dayanand Social Security scheme, issue of ration card, issue of birth and death certificate and Griha Laxmi scheme should be made Aadhaar compliant.

The UIDAI has now sanctioned Goa a sum of one crore as part amount for the computerization and integration of Aadhaar numbers into computer databases of various beneficiary-oriented schemes. The total amount to be released is 10 crore.

Asked why Goa could not achieve 100% coverage, Saxena said that the authorities lost almost three months during the Assembly elections. During this time, there were no officials, no premises available to set up enrollment stations and also no vehicles.

The downside of the project is that the two important talukas of Bardez and Salcette have still not reached 70% coverage. “But the department is trying its best to deploy more machines to increase the coverage and achieve 100% coverage by December-end,” Saxena said.

The five talukas with high Aadhaar coverage in Goa are Quepem (89%), Mormugao (83%), Canacona (78%), Bicholim (74%) and Sattari (73%).

Single account for financial services

January 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Posted in Arguments For | Comments Off on Single account for financial services

Single account for financial services

S. M. ROY

SHARE  ·   COMMENT (5)   ·   PRINT   ·   T+
Maintaining separate accounts for savings bank, stocks and insurance transactions is cumbersome. — Sandeep Saxena
Maintaining separate accounts for savings bank, stocks and insurance transactions is cumbersome. — Sandeep Saxena

The integration of bank, insurance, pension and stock market transactions into a single account is both possible and desirable from a customer’s point of view.

November 4, 2012:

 

“Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking” — was the quintessential philosophy of a piscean, who crossed the river of life in the recent past.

The key to Steve Job’s success was the relentless pursuit of ‘what is better for the customer’ even before they knew that they needed it! Applying this analogy to the financial services sector, we present some thoughts on making life simpler for the end users, that is, the public.

The starting point for this thought process was a credit card statement, reflecting spending in three different foreign currencies. It unambiguously reflected the foreign currency, the amounts spent in each foreign currency and the rupee equivalent.

This leads to an intriguing thought: If technology can capture transactions in multiple currencies in a single statement, what prevents it from capturing transactions and holding of shares as well in the same account?

In other words, why have a separate demat account when, with suitable upgradation of the core banking system, the existing bank account itself could, perhaps, do the job.

Before elaborating on this thought, a minor digression would be in order. A scaffolding is required for construction of a building, but it is dismantled once the construction is complete.

Similarly, without the demat system — the single-most important reform in securities market in India — securities markets would not have taken off to its present levels.

AADHAR-BASED INTEGRATION

But now, the time has come to reconsider the relevance of a standalone demat and instead move to an integrated system, wherein bank details and demat details are reflected in a single account.

The above concept could be extended to cover the entire spectrum of financial assets. At present, different financial assets are captured in separate silos, namely, banks account, demat account, pension fund account, insurance policies, and so on, reflecting the compartmentalised approach of the sectoral service providers.

Obviously, from a user’s perspective, this is not the most convenient option. If the customer’s interest is placed at the forefront, then consolidation of all financial assets in one account is the logical way forward.

Accordingly, we propose a single account, say financial account (for want of better term) that would reflect the holding and transaction in all financial assets.

The UID or ‘Aadhar’ number itself could be the account number for this omnibus account. This account should capture basic banking details.

A person may choose to have savings account with Bank A, based on proximity, and choose to place a fixed deposit with Bank B, offering a higher rate of interest. The proposed single account should capture his/her transactions and holding in both these banks.

Investment in government small-savings schemes such as NSC, PPF, and postal savings schemes should be reflected in this account. It should capture and reflect details of investment in securities, including that in e-commodities.

This would eliminate the need for separate demat account for investing in e-commodities, through commodities spot exchange.

The proposed account should also provide details of life insurance policy, say, with Company A and also the vehicle insurance policy with Company B. The reported proposal by IRDA to have ‘repositories’ to hold insurance policies in electronic form, is a typically compartmentalised approach of a sectoral regulator. The details of pension and provident fund subscriptions should also be captured in the proposed account, including that of the New Pension System (NPS). This will eliminate the need for a separate, permanent pension account number (PPAN) number envisaged for NPS.

On the liability side, the proposed account should reflect all types of liabilities, including credit cards, consumer loans, housing loan, loan against insurance policy etc. across service providers.

EXAGGERATED PROBLEMS

The benefits of the proposed convergence would be immense, apart from just convenience. There would be just one KYC for entire financial services sector which would provide a huge boost to the financial inclusion drive of the Government.

In remote areas, innovations like business correspondents, operating with handheld devices, are facilitating financial inclusion.

Progressive service providers/NGOs have supplemented these efforts by introducing ‘non-basic’ financial assets like micro insurance, micro pension, micro money market mutual funds and micro index mutual funds in unbanked areas.

Needless to say, these first-time investors would find it easier to manage/monitor one singe account than multiple accounts.

Implementing this proposal would need the combined initiative and effort of both the state and the financial service providers. The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC), which is working on harmonising legislations across sectors, can, if required, recommend a suitable legal framework that will enable the proposed convergence.

Co-operation and co-ordination between regulators and the service providers would be a pre requisite for implementation.

THE IT ANALOGY

Plenty of technical and technological hurdles would arise during implementation, including hurdles that are imaginary and drummed up by vested interests.

However, the real hurdles that emerge would not be insurmountable. Keeping customer’s interest in the forefront, this complex task of convergence needs to be undertaken, just as what Steve Jobs did in IT.

Upon implementation, a single financial account would become the norm, just as Graphic User Interface (GUI) is the norm in personal computing.

Users of a single financial account would simply not remember how it was before, just as today’s generation view with horror the syntax-driven precursor to GUI, namely, the Disk Operating System.

Are we then ready to be free of dogma?

(The author works with a financial services industry. The views are personal.)

HCL Infosystems reports revenue of Rs. 2456 crores

January 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Additional business, The Market | Comments Off on HCL Infosystems reports revenue of Rs. 2456 crores

http://www.ciol.com/ciol/news/121537/hcl-infosystems-reports-revenue-rs-2456-crores

HCL Infosystems reports revenue of Rs. 2456 crores

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Computer Systems segment registered growth across different verticals

News | by CIOL Bureau

NEW DELHI, INDIA: HCL Infosystems announced its financial results for the first quarter ending September 30, 2012, said a press release.

Computer Systems segment registered strong growth across different verticals:

The company was awarded one of the largest IT contract ever for the Managed Service Provider (MSP) from UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India).

In the BFSI segment, the company bagged a significant order for Corporation Bank for Automated Data Flow with HCLs BancScan. Also Financial Inclusion order from Rajasthan Gramin Bank and Performance Management System order from RBI were gained by the business

The Manufacturing, Retail and Oil vertical won important orders from IOCL and HMSI

Finance ministry tightens purse strings for UIDAI

January 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Finance ministry tightens purse strings for UIDAI

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Finance-ministry-tightens-purse-strings-for-UIDAI/Article1-955344.aspx

Finance ministry tightens purse strings for UIDAI
Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 05, 2012

A panel of senior civil servants has slashed the Nandan Nilekani-led Unique Identification Authority of India’s Rs. 5,061-crore plan for enrolling 400 million people for Aadhaar numbers.
The panel, headed by expenditure secretary RS Gujral whose approval is mandatory for all such
schemes, reduced the plan by 30%, asking the UIDAI — that advocates the use of Aadhaar platforms to introduce efficiency in government spending — to make efficient use of the money.

UIDAI officials told HT that they had built a database of nearly 250 million residents and generated Aadhaar numbers for about 220 million people.

The authority initially had a mandate to enroll 200 million residents, but was allowed to enroll 400 million others after a bitter turf war with the home ministry.

The panel told the authority to keep its spending within the Rs. 3,400-crore allocation by tweaking its processes, tightening its belt and introducing a fair bit of innovation.

For instance, the authority has been asked to abandon the existing process of sending Aadhaar numbers by Speed Post to each of the 400 million registered individuals.

Instead, it has been asked to follow the home ministry-driven National Population Register that sends ID cards to all members of a household in a single envelope.

But it’s not clear whether the UIDAI can implement this model since it collects and processes biometric data to register each individual separately.

An UIDAI official said the authority had been exploring the possibility of using SMSes to inform people about their Aadhaar number, wherever possible.

The UIDAI was also told that it was paying too much — Rs. 50 — for each enrollment to its registrars and the cap was lowered to Rs. 40.

State mode of benefit transfer proves effective- Major difference is that it is not linked to Aadhaar numbers

January 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on State mode of benefit transfer proves effective- Major difference is that it is not linked to Aadhaar numbers

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/state-mode-of-benefit-transfer-proves-effective/article4257633.ece

State mode of benefit transfer proves effective

T. RAMAKRISHNAN
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Major difference is that it is not linked to Aadhaar numbers

A beneficiary operating a biometric smart card machine at Samuthiram in Tiruchi on Friday.Collector Jayashree Muralidharan and, Chief Regional Manager, IOB, R. Krishnamurthy (second from right), are in the picture.— PHOTO:R.M. RAJARATHINAM
Even as the Union government gears itself to launch the scheme of direct benefits transfer (DBT) in 51 districts across the country on New Year’s Day, Tamil Nadu, by ensuring the transfer of social security to about 5.63 lakh rural beneficiaries every month in 31 districts, it has shown that its variant of DBT is workable.

The only major difference between the Central scheme and the State government’s is that the transfer is not linked to the beneficiaries having Aadhaar numbers. Otherwise, both appear to be identical.

The beneficiaries of the social security schemes have to open basic savings bank accounts. Every month, business correspondents, appointed by the banks, go to the places of beneficiaries, carrying hand-held point of service (POS) equipment with printers and biometric authentication devices. On confirmation of biometric authentication of the beneficiaries, the pension is disbursed.

Under eight social security schemes including three Central schemes, 29.87 lakh beneficiaries in Tamil Nadu receive monthly pension of Rs. 1,000. Traditionally, they have been receiving the pension through postal money order.

The initial phase focuses on 6.53 lakh beneficiaries in 4,479 villages of 31 districts with the stipulation of covering villages having population of over 2,000.

As on November 30, the coverage was 5.63 lakh beneficiaries in about 4,100 villages. An official of the Revenue department, the implementing agency, says the remaining beneficiaries will be covered shortly.

In the second phase, villages having population in the range of 1,000 to 2,000 will be covered, and the third and final phase pertains to all other villages and urban areas. The present plan of the State government is complete the two phases in six months.

Reports from various districts indicate that the beneficiaries prefer the new mode of payment to the old system.

A senior government official says that the integration of Aadhar/UIDAI data with that of beneficiaries will be carried out after the National Population Register (NPR) programme is completed in the State which is expected by June 30, 2013.

On assumption of office in May 2011, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government took two decisions concerning the social security schemes. It not only increased the amount of pension from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 but also decided to disburse it through banks in a phased manner.

In respect of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme too, the State government has decided to make payment through banks in five districts – Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Erode, Tirupur and Kanyakumari, from January, according to an official release issued by the State Level Bankers’ Committee. In these districts, bank accounts for 6.1 lakh beneficiaries have been opened.

Due to lack of UID cards, 20,800 staffers from various departments of the BMC did not receive their salary for December 2012.

January 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Due to lack of UID cards, 20,800 staffers from various departments of the BMC did not receive their salary for December 2012.

http://twocircles.net/2013jan07/over_20000_mumbai_civic_employees_paid_december_salary.html

Over 20,000 Mumbai civic employees paid December salary
Submitted by admin4 on 7 January 2013 – 10:31pm
India News
By IANS,

Mumbai : The December 2012 salaries of over 20,000 civic employees of Mumbai were released Monday after several unions threatened extreme steps. The salaries of these employees were not released for want of Aadhar cards.

“After Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte gave an extension of two months for the unique identity card (UID) or the Aadhaar cards, salaries of 20,800 employees have been released,” an official from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) told IANS.

However, many complained of not having received their salary till the bank closing hours Monday. “The circular to release December 2012 salaries of all employees was issued Thursday. However, I have still not received my pay,” a civic employee told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

Due to lack of UID cards, 20,800 staffers from various departments of the BMC did not receive their salary for December 2012.

Municipal Mazdoor Union chief Sharad Rao termed the BMC’s decision as illegal and said that Aadhar cards have nothing to do with salaries. “We will restart our protests if the employees’ salary are stopped again for lack of UID cards. These have nothing to do with anybody’s salary,” he told IANS.

Aadhaar Card not mandatory for Income Certificate for EWS school admissions

January 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Aadhaar Card not mandatory for Income Certificate for EWS school admissions

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/aadhaar-card-not-mandatory-for-income-certificate-for-ews-school-admissions/article4285311.ece

Aadhaar Card not mandatory for Income Certificate for EWS school admissions

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

The Delhi Revenue Secretary and Divisional Commissioner on Monday issued orders to keep in abeyance till further instructions the requirement of Aadhaar Card for issuing Income Certificates to economically weaker section (EWS) students for admission to the forthcoming academic session.

The directions were issued by the official following a meeting with Delhi Education Minister Kiran Walia who said students and applicants belonging to economically weaker categories who wanted to get admission under their quota needed to get an Income Certificate and for that an Aadhaar Card was essential. The Minister said this mandatory requirement of Aadhaar Card was causing a lot of trouble to admission seekers who were running against time to apply in the schools.

Stating that hundreds of applicants had approached her seeking relief, Prof. Walia said keeping in mind the problems being faced by the students and their parents, it was essential to do away with the mandatory requirement. She thus asked the Revenue Secretary to take back the earlier order.

Thereafter, the Revenue Secretary issued an order keeping in abeyance the mandatory requirement to have an Aadhaar Card for procuring the Income Certificate. The order has been issued to all the Deputy Commissioners, Sub Divisional Magistrates and Tehsildars and has come into force with immediate effect.

One of the top 5 undergraduate degree for 2013 is Bachelor’s degree in Forensic and Criminal Science

January 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Posted in Additional business, Infrastructure, The Market | Comments Off on One of the top 5 undergraduate degree for 2013 is Bachelor’s degree in Forensic and Criminal Science
  1. Another degree in high demand is a bachelor’s degree in forensic and criminal science. This degree can lead to a number of different career paths including forensic engineer, crime laboratory analyst and more. A degree in forensic and criminal science allows you to investigate crime from behind the scenes. Due to the growing levels of violent crime in North America, which rose 18% in 2011, this is…

UPA puts its decision of direct subsidy transfer to bank accounts on hold in WB

January 6, 2013 at 8:53 am | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on UPA puts its decision of direct subsidy transfer to bank accounts on hold in WB
http://post.jagran.com/upa-puts-its-decision-of-direct-subsidy-transfer-to-bank-accounts-on-hold-in-wb-1352283466

UPA puts its decision of direct subsidy transfer to bank accounts on hold in WB

Posted on: 07 Nov 2012, 03:47 PM

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WB: Direct subsidy transfer put on hold

WB: Direct subsidy transfer put on hold

 

Kolkata:  The Central Government’s decision to transfer the amount of ration subsidy directly to the bank accounts of intended beneficiaries has been put on hold. West Bengal Food and Supply Minister Jyotipriya Mallick earlier had expressed disagreement with the Central Government over the proposed scheme.

Mallick said that the Central Government is assuming ‘Aadhar card’ as the criteria for public distribution system but the fact is that the thousands of families in Bengal do not have the multi-purpose card.

The minister said that if the scheme is implemented, majority of the BPL families will not be able to get the benefit under PDS.

The state government also believes that some of the BPL families may misuse the money if it is directly transferred to their bank accounts. The minster also said that if the scheme is implemented, nearly 10,000 employees covered under PDS will become unemployed.

Mallick also said that after the implementation of proposed scheme, the PDS employees will have no other work rather than to check that if subsidy money has been transferred into the bank accounts of the intended beneficiaries.

There are many loopholes in this proposed scheme, added the minister.

(JPN/Bureau)

Single account for financial services

January 6, 2013 at 8:52 am | Posted in Process | Comments Off on Single account for financial services
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/columns/single-account-for-financial-services/article4064708.ece

Single account for financial services

S. M. Roy

Maintaining separate accounts for savings bank, stocks and insurance transactions is cumbersome. — Sandeep Saxena
Maintaining separate accounts for savings bank, stocks and insurance transactions is cumbersome. — Sandeep Saxena

The integration of bank, insurance, pension and stock market transactions into a single account is both possible and desirable from a customer’s point of view.

November 4, 2012:

“Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking” — was the quintessential philosophy of a piscean, who crossed the river of life in the recent past.

The key to Steve Job’s success was the relentless pursuit of ‘what is better for the customer’ even before they knew that they needed it! Applying this analogy to the financial services sector, we present some thoughts on making life simpler for the end users, that is, the public.

The starting point for this thought process was a credit card statement, reflecting spending in three different foreign currencies. It unambiguously reflected the foreign currency, the amounts spent in each foreign currency and the rupee equivalent.

This leads to an intriguing thought: If technology can capture transactions in multiple currencies in a single statement, what prevents it from capturing transactions and holding of shares as well in the same account?

In other words, why have a separate demat account when, with suitable upgradation of the core banking system, the existing bank account itself could, perhaps, do the job.

Before elaborating on this thought, a minor digression would be in order. A scaffolding is required for construction of a building, but it is dismantled once the construction is complete.

Similarly, without the demat system — the single-most important reform in securities market in India — securities markets would not have taken off to its present levels.

AADHAR-BASED INTEGRATION

But now, the time has come to reconsider the relevance of a standalone demat and instead move to an integrated system, wherein bank details and demat details are reflected in a single account.

The above concept could be extended to cover the entire spectrum of financial assets. At present, different financial assets are captured in separate silos, namely, banks account, demat account, pension fund account, insurance policies, and so on, reflecting the compartmentalised approach of the sectoral service providers.

Obviously, from a user’s perspective, this is not the most convenient option. If the customer’s interest is placed at the forefront, then consolidation of all financial assets in one account is the logical way forward.

Accordingly, we propose a single account, say financial account (for want of better term) that would reflect the holding and transaction in all financial assets.

The UID or ‘Aadhar’ number itself could be the account number for this omnibus account. This account should capture basic banking details.

A person may choose to have savings account with Bank A, based on proximity, and choose to place a fixed deposit with Bank B, offering a higher rate of interest. The proposed single account should capture his/her transactions and holding in both these banks.

Investment in government small-savings schemes such as NSC, PPF, and postal savings schemes should be reflected in this account. It should capture and reflect details of investment in securities, including that in e-commodities.

This would eliminate the need for separate demat account for investing in e-commodities, through commodities spot exchange.

The proposed account should also provide details of life insurance policy, say, with Company A and also the vehicle insurance policy with Company B. The reported proposal by IRDA to have ‘repositories’ to hold insurance policies in electronic form, is a typically compartmentalised approach of a sectoral regulator. The details of pension and provident fund subscriptions should also be captured in the proposed account, including that of the New Pension System (NPS). This will eliminate the need for a separate, permanent pension account number (PPAN) number envisaged for NPS.

On the liability side, the proposed account should reflect all types of liabilities, including credit cards, consumer loans, housing loan, loan against insurance policy etc. across service providers.

EXAGGERATED PROBLEMS

The benefits of the proposed convergence would be immense, apart from just convenience. There would be just one KYC for entire financial services sector which would provide a huge boost to the financial inclusion drive of the Government.

In remote areas, innovations like business correspondents, operating with handheld devices, are facilitating financial inclusion.

Progressive service providers/NGOs have supplemented these efforts by introducing ‘non-basic’ financial assets like micro insurance, micro pension, micro money market mutual funds and micro index mutual funds in unbanked areas.

Needless to say, these first-time investors would find it easier to manage/monitor one singe account than multiple accounts.

Implementing this proposal would need the combined initiative and effort of both the state and the financial service providers. The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC), which is working on harmonising legislations across sectors, can, if required, recommend a suitable legal framework that will enable the proposed convergence.

Co-operation and co-ordination between regulators and the service providers would be a pre requisite for implementation.

THE IT ANALOGY

Plenty of technical and technological hurdles would arise during implementation, including hurdles that are imaginary and drummed up by vested interests.

However, the real hurdles that emerge would not be insurmountable. Keeping customer’s interest in the forefront, this complex task of convergence needs to be undertaken, just as what Steve Jobs did in IT.

Upon implementation, a single financial account would become the norm, just as Graphic User Interface (GUI) is the norm in personal computing.

Users of a single financial account would simply not remember how it was before, just as today’s generation view with horror the syntax-driven precursor to GUI, namely, the Disk Operating System.

Are we then ready to be free of dogma?

(The author works with a financial services industry. The views are personal.)

Helpless against SMS menace: Toothless telecom ministry compromises the privacy and peace of mobile users

January 6, 2013 at 8:50 am | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Helpless against SMS menace: Toothless telecom ministry compromises the privacy and peace of mobile users

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/telecom-minister-kapil-sibal-pesky-telemarketers-sms-trai/1/226945.html

Helpless against SMS menace: Toothless telecom ministry compromises the privacy and peace of mobile users
SUHAS MUNSHI  | New Delhi, October 31, 2012 | 08:30
Even Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal is a victim of unsolicited text messages.
Even Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal is a victim of unsolicited text messages.

Dear Mr XYZ, book your dream home this Diwali @ Sec 113, Noida, for Rs 20 lakh. Hurry, bookings are open only till October 31. SMS OMG to12345.

A message like this from a real estate agent at a time when you are actually keen to book a flat is enough to grab your attention.

If you are impressed with the “extensive research” of the agent on not just your requirement, but also your name, gender and budget estimate, don’t be. Your personal details are available in the market for a paltry 2 paise.

And it’s not just you. Each and every individual using a mobile phone or a landline connection is being tracked by phone number brokers and hounded by telemarketers. The menace is only increasing and the telecom ministry seems as helpless as its minister, Kapil Sibal, who too has not been spared by the pesky telemarketers. Speaking at the Worldwide Cyber-security Summit in the Capital on Tuesday, Sibal said: “Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ) is taking it up (pesky calls/SMS texts issue). I also face lot of problems. Every two minutes I get such SMS…I met Trai chairman (Rahul Khullar). He will ensure that this is not going to happen anymore.”

The minister’s assurance sounds far-fetched when you realise that nothing is hidden from the prying eyes of pesky message senders, who are making a fortune out of your personal details.

From your bank account customer Id to your car number and home loan details, all such important and personal information can be accessed from a phone number broker based in the dingy lanes of the Capital.

Kapil Sibal

Mail Today tracked down one such broker in Lakshmi Nagar who said he possesses several lakh phone numbers that he can deliver through an email attachment. “My phone number bank is quite huge so you need not bother yourself with selecting your target consumers. Based on your requirements, I can provide you with phone numbers of people with more than Rs 5 lakh annual salary.The information will be provided region wise so that you can target your consumers accordingly,” said the broker, whose number was accessed from one of the many yellow pages portals with details of services available in the Capital.

Within minutes of transfer of Rs 2,000 to the broker’s account; name, age, gender, mobile phone numbers (prepaid or post paid) and addresses of one lakh people living in a particular region and of course drawing similar salaries, reached the email of this correspondent.

The broker even offered to provide more specific information such as bank account details, vehicle details, landline numbers etc. if the correspondent was willing to pay a little more. Separate lists for high net worth individuals, stock market investors, MDs and CEOs of companies could also be purchased for a little higher amount.

The broker said his business has diversified since he first started selling the numbers. “Over the past one year, we have provided the numbers to political campaigners, marketing executives and telecallers who use them based on their requirement,” he said.

With the availability of USB SIM card modem, which has spawned an illegal bulk SMS industry around itself, the need for lists of phone numbers – segregated on the basis of region, income, profession, gender etc – has increased tremendously, helping a parallel black market of private information grow around it.

The increasing demand in the market has brought in competition among the brokers who are now consolidating their database with the most personal of people’s details. Helping them with the information are their ‘contacts’ in different sectors – telecom operators, banks, vehicle breakdown service providers, insurance agents among others.

“People with this precious data don’t sell it cheap. The actual cost to buy SMS lists depends on the selection criteria, complexity and the volume you are buying. The more you buy, the less you pay for the details,” a broker said. The rate of the brokers also varies with the information they supply. A broker agreed to email a national database, comprising only phone numbers, for Rs 1,500.

Another one offered to provide details like name, address, cell phone number, landline number of 5 lakh Delhiites for Rs 5,000. A third broker offered to sell similar information of 14 lakh Delhiites for Rs 5,000, the source of which he revealed was a telecom operator. Rajan Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India, agreed that the facility of messaging is being misused. He, however, excused the operators from the responsibility, saying: “We had proposed a differential tariff for messages beyond 200 per day, but it did not work out. With no restriction, the SMS facility is being misused. The operators cannot be blamed for it,” he said.

According to cyber law experts, the Indian legal system leaves much to be desired in terms of preventing illegal data sharing and data protection. “No deterrence for such crimes and little reactive action from the consumers and the authorities are not only giving rise to brazen sharing of personal details but also scaring away data centric businesses from the country,” said an expert.

“Sharing data is still not a crime. There is no data protection law in the country and this has given a virtual impunity to people making money by selling people’s information,” said cyber law expert Pavan Duggal. “Given the complete disregard for privacy in the country, it’s not surprising that India is the number one spam generating country in the world,” he added.

The Delhi Police, meanwhile, claimed to have a mechanism in place to curb the menace. “Till now we haven’t received any complaint of this nature. However, we have a mechanism – Cyber Cell – to deal with crimes relating to breach of privacy through such [phone broker] list,” said K.K. Vyas, DCP, economic offences wing, Delhi Police.

UIDAI launches Public Data Portal for Aadhaar

January 6, 2013 at 8:49 am | Posted in Applications, Process | Comments Off on UIDAI launches Public Data Portal for Aadhaar
http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/uidai-launches-public-data-portal-for-aadhaar_810113.html

UIDAI launches Public Data Portal for Aadhaar

Last Updated: Thursday, November 08, 2012, 22:08
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UIDAI launches Public Data Portal for AadhaarZeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Thursday launched its Public Data Portal (data.uidai.gov.in) for the Aadhaar project in line with the National Data Sharing & Accessibility Policy (NSDAP) 2012.

The portal will enable the public to access several anonymised datasets generated in the UIDAI ecosystem. The public data portal is in consonance with the larger vision of the Government of India to make data available throughdata.gov.in.

The UIDAI has also been sharing information about the latest developments of the project in the public domain through its website, www.uidai.gov.in. Apart from adhering to the requirements of the Right to Information Act of providing information suo moto to the public at regular intervals through the Internet, the UIDAI proactively puts out quarterly statements of its expenditure, various technical documents related to biometrics, proof of concept studies and working papers in the public domain.

“The public data portal is a major step in enabling transparency for improving UIDAI’s operations. Using data to enhance decision making capabilities and informed decision making is at the core of the rationale for the public portal,” said UIDAI chairman Shri Nandan Nilekani.

The Government of India notified the National Data Sharing & Accessibility Policy (NSDAP) 2012 on March 17, 2012. The NDSAP policy is designed to promote data sharing and enable access to central government-owned data for national planning and development.

UIDAI Director General Ram Sewak Sharma said: “The public data portal will enable big data analysis using crowd sourcing model for the benefit of the society at large.”

UIDAI is currently releasing five data sets pertaining to Aadhaar Enrolment and another five data sets pertaining to Aadhaar Authentication. These datasets provide insights on enrolment and authentication request processed by UIDAI distributed by geography, by ecosystem partner and by certain demographic characteristics.

Data sets are available in human and machine-readable formats. Programmatic access to the data sets is also provided for the convenience of researchers. The datasets only provide compiled anonymised information. Due care has been taken to maintain privacy of personal information of individuals.

Aadhar and global finance

January 6, 2013 at 8:48 am | Posted in Concepts, Thoughts | Comments Off on Aadhar and global finance

Some questions to think through in the light of this excellent essay by Wolfgang Streeck.

Wolfgang says, ‘Moreover, there is a widely shared conviction that the next bubble is already building somewhere in a world that is more than ever flooded with cheap money.’

More than a hundred states all over the world are currently providing direct or conditional cash transfers to poor people all over the world. This money is to be used for buying commodities. Is Aadhar, DCT, biometric identification the next bubble?

Till now especially in countries which functions on principal of democratic-capitalism, the central conflict, in Wolfgang’s view, has been between market justice and social justice but with DCT are we witnessing the emergence of a new face-phase of global capitalism whereby big corporates and bigger financial institutions are saying you don’t need to work in order to earn money?

Just be poor and remain so, we shall give you money to maintain status quo but this just my bias unverified by proof or evidence, although I wonder does DCT plays any role in providing social mobility to the poor, how much health and education opportunities do the poor really get by DCT?

THE CRISES OF DEMOCRATIC CAPITALISM

Aruna Roy objects to direct cash transfer

January 6, 2013 at 8:36 am | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Aruna Roy objects to direct cash transfer
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Aruna-Roy-objects-to-direct-cash-transfer/articleshow/17893934.cms

Aruna Roy objects to direct cash transfer

TNN | Jan 5, 2013, 02.22 AM IST

Aruna Roy objects to direct cash transfer
Stressing that NREGS, food security bill and old age pension required the priority of the government, Roy said that the government was “steam rolling” opposition.
NEW DELHI: National Advisory Council (NAC) member and MKSS leader Aruna Roy on Friday shot off a scathing letter to the finance ministry objecting to “talk” of subsidy cuts for the poor while funding programmes like Aadhar that have no legislative backing. She also suggested that pre-budget consultations for business and social sector should be held jointly in a more democratic fashion.

Expressing “shock” at subsidy cuts Roy, who did not attend Friday’s meeting with the finance ministry, said, ” In a country that has fuelled its economic growth through exploitation of common property resources and the labour of the poor, to not have a tax to GDP ratio that is substantially higher only makes it clear that for India’s unorganized sector the candle is burning on both ends. Enough has already been said about the undiminished tax subsidies to the corporate sector, which will I am sure will be meeting you with increased demands.”

Suggesting that the business and social sector be met with jointly rather than “pigeon-holed” Roy said that banking heavily on cash transfers through the Aadhar scheme was a “huge mistake”. “The government is making a huge mistake in pushing Aadhaar and making it mandatory, without ensuring its viability. Glaring mismatches have already begun at the grass root level and the system being imposed is undemocratic and injudicious. Any further investment without proper and complete examination will undoubtedly lead to confirmed disaster,” she added.

Stressing that NREGS, food security bill and old age pension required the priority of the government, Roy said that the government was “steam rolling” opposition. “Yours was a government that empowered people to monitor government through the right to information act. Instead of showing the political will to act on demands for accountability, this government is proceeding on the assumption that technology will be the “game changer.” It is not that we oppose technology or even blindly oppose the use of technology for monitoring of welfare programmes. Many of us feel that it is not been adequately discussed, or rationally evaluated; instead all opposition and even questions are being steam rolled.”

She added that she was “extremely distressed” the food security bill has been pushed into cold storage and the contrary path of cash transfers is being relentlessly pursued
.

Don’t leave any area out of Aadhaar numbers: Rajan

January 6, 2013 at 8:35 am | Posted in Infrastructure, Process | Comments Off on Don’t leave any area out of Aadhaar numbers: Rajan

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/dont-leave-any-area-outaadhaar-numbers-rajan-/497872/

Don’t leave any area out of Aadhaar numbers: Rajan
BS Reporter / New Delhi Jan 06, 2013, 00:27 IST

As the government puts its ambitious direct benefits transfer (DBT) scheme on test in select districts from January 1, chief economic advisor Raghuram Rajan on Saturday said there should be a pressure on the agency concerned not to leave any area out of Aadhaar numbers.

“If the Aadhaar number is not forthcoming in a particular case, we should pressurise the Aadhaar agency,” Rajan said at a seminar organised on financial inclusion.

Aadhaar numbers are being rolled out by the Unique Identification Authority of India ( UIDAI) and the National Population Registrar (NPR). UIDAI is expected to issue Aadhaar numbers to 600 million people, and NPR would issue for the rest. So far, the authority has issued it to over 220 million people.
Among other uses, Aadhaar numbers will be used to directly transfer cash to beneficiaries for various social welfare programmes, called DBT.

The scheme is being tested in 20 districts of the country since January 1, covering 200,000 beneficiaries. Currently, all DBTs are not going through Aadhaar numbers only. On January 1, about 2,000 beneficiaries were transferred an amount of Rs 35 lakh on the Aadhaar platform. However, the transfers were made in these districts even to the beneficiaries, who did not have Aadhaar-linked bank accounts.

The amount was transferred through National Payments Corp of India to eight banks for seven schemes, mostly education scholarship, which was later transferred to the accounts off beneficiaries in 23 banks.

Earlier, the government had planned to roll out the scheme in 51 districts from January 1, 2012. The number of districts was first reduced to 43 and later to 20, owing to lack of preparedness in many of these districts.

The government will transfer cash benefits like scholarships, pensions, and rural job scheme wages directly to the bank or post office accounts of identified beneficiaries. On February 1, 11 more districts will be added to the scheme, followed by 12 more districts in March, taking the total number of districts to 43 in the first phase.

Rajan said: “It’s important that we retain our credit culture, and make fiscal transfers more direct. If we wait for everything to be in place, we would be waiting for ever.”

He said financial inclusion is not just about credit. “It’s also about savings, and insurance. It’s about providing a wide variety of other financial services,” he added.

Rajan said financial inclusion should not be measured only by the number of new enterprises that comes up. “Small shops can benefit from new inventories that they can buy with more credit, but people who get credit are not always going to use it for such purposes.”

Rajan said one of the reasons China had more enterprises than India was the much higher education in the city and town level.

Iris scan to add layer to Aadhaar authentication

January 6, 2013 at 8:34 am | Posted in Applications, Technology | Comments Off on Iris scan to add layer to Aadhaar authentication

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/iris-scan-to-add-layer-to-aadhaar-authentication/497578/

Iris scan to add layer to Aadhaar authentication

System to be introduced in first quarter of 2013
Devjyot Ghoshal / New Delhi Jan 03, 2013, 00:27 IST

One of the biggest purported flaws of the Unique Identification Authority of India ( UIDAI)’s Aadhaar programme was the risk of deterioration of beneficiaries’ fingerprint quality, especially given the country’s large farm worker population, among the main target groups.

But, almost in sync with the government’s plan of rolling out the ambitious direct benefits transfer (DBT) scheme nationwide, starting with 20 districts from January 1, the UIDAI is finishing work on introducing iris-based authentication in the first quarter of 2013, said a senior UIDAI official.

The iris, a circular structure in the eye, is responsible for controlling the diameter and size of the pupils. The colours, textures and patterns of each individual’s irises are thought to be unique.
This type of authentication would allow UIDAI to not only use iris scans of residents taken during Aadhaar enrolment for de-duplication (eliminating duplicates), it could also utilise these, along with fingerprint scans, to reduce the overall rate of authentication failures.

“There are some huge advantages with iris,” the official said. “(For example) a labourer’s fingerprints may get worn out, but his iris won’t. Iris patterns are much more solid and give a lot more information.”

Although the UIDAI came for criticism in 2011, particularly from the home ministry, for the cost of scanning the irises of every resident who enrolled for Aadhaar, the official explained this was a requirement because it would be difficult to ensure accuracy in de-duplication in excess of 99 per cent on the basis of just one biometric measure.

“One fingerprint will give me limited information. Five fingerprints will mean more information and less chances of error. Similarly, if I have the iris (data) also, there is a wider set of information about a person and, therefore, the points of distinctness become much larger. And, the probability that both the iris and the finger will match is exceedingly small,” the official said.

Despite its utility, iris-based authentication was previously unfeasible, primarily due to the cost of scanners. “But now, we have seen very low-cost devices, some as low as those used for fingerprint authentication,” the official said, adding a clutch of both domestic and international vendors, including Koreans, were being roped in for a proof of concept (PoC), subsequent to which vendors would be empanelled.

“There are no standards in iris authentication available, as of now,” the official said. “We will be the first ones in the world who will have iris image and transmission standards, matching algorithms and compression (standards) well-defined.”

However, in a PoC conducted last year in Karnataka’s Mysore district, the failed authentication rate stood at only 0.79 per cent for single-eye cameras and 0.60 per cent for dual-eye cameras, for about 5,000 residents. “The results clearly demonstrate iris authentication to be viable in the Indian context,” the PoC report said.

But the real test for the technology would come if and when it is implemented nationwide from early this year, as DBT expands in its reach and scope.

Aadhar must for admission of kids in economically weaker sections category

January 6, 2013 at 8:33 am | Posted in Applications | Comments Off on Aadhar must for admission of kids in economically weaker sections category

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Aadhar-must-for-admission-of-kids-in-economically-weaker-sections-category/articleshow/17908078.cms

Aadhar must for admission of kids in economically weaker sections category
By Shreya Roy Chowdhury, TNN | Jan 6, 2013, 06.49 AM IST

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NEW DELHI: The process of nursery admission has become more arduous for parents hoping to admit kids into the EWS category. They will not be granted income certificates, necessary for admissions into the category reserved for economically weaker sections, if they can’t produce an Aadhaar card or at least, an enrollment number.

This has resulted in mass confusion among this set of applicants as they had to return from offices of sub-divisional magistrates without certificates.

“I have neither an Aadhaar number nor the enrollment slip. I have got all the other documents together but don’t know where to get the number or slip from,” says Vijay Sharma who works as a driver in Rohini and wants to admit his son in school. The rule has been introduced at the worst time possible for this group. “I am especially worried as we have only 15 days for collecting and submitting the forms,” adds Sharma. He had gone to the SDM’s office at Kanjhawla on Wednesday for the certificate.

Satkar Gupta who had gone to Tis Hazari also returned empty-handed. “I was told that the new rule has been imposed from today,” says Gupta. He works at an electrical store in Shakti Nagar and wants to apply for his son. Neither Sharma nor Gupta knew or were told that an enrollment number could have solved the problem, assuming they could get enrolled as there was a massive rush at enrollment counters.

“Many of them have gone to more than one enrollment centre and are being told to come back on January 10 or 11 because there’s so much rush,” says Social Jurist and advocate Khagesh Jha, who was approached by more than a dozen parents for help.

“No one even told them what they had to do,” he says adding that this new rule will throw the process out of gear for many parents this admission cycle.

“If Aadhaar is made mandatory for issuance of income certificate – which is not only used for benefiting from welfare schemes but is also required to exercise the fundamental right to education – it has to be done through a statutory notification. That hasn’t come but SDMs have been instructed to refuse applications. It is like refusing to register an FIR for a person not carrying an Aadhaar card or enrollment number,” he says.

Why divide india into UID, NPR states?

January 6, 2013 at 8:32 am | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Why divide india into UID, NPR states?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/stoi/all-that-matters/Why-divide-india-into-UID-NPR-states/articleshow/17907991.cms

Why divide india into UID, NPR states?
Jan 6, 2013, 06.36 AM IST

He’s involved in the rollout of the first phase of direct (cash) benefit transfer (DBT) scheme which was launched on January 1. Yet, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh tells Pradeep Thakur he can’t understand why non-UPA and opposition-ruled states such as Bihar, West Bengal, UP, Odisha and Tamil Nadu were excluded from it.

The government has not being able to launch DBT in more than 20 districts and seven schemes. Has it failed?

DBT is not a switch that you put on and off. It’s a process of moving towards a system . It will take couple of months to pick up. On January 6, we are launching payment of MGNREGA wages through the DBT system . We are starting from East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh as we have all the systems in place there — beneficiaries identified, bank accounts opened and banks and post offices better prepared. We are already starting payment of old age and widow pensions through this system. Once similar infrastructure facilities are available in other districts, we will be able to launch DBT there too.

But major benefits such as food, petroleum /LPG and fertilizer subsidies are still out of DBT.

Food subsidy is not part of the DBT system as the finance minister has made it amply clear. It will take time for rolling out cash benefits against these subsidies; it may happen by the end of 2013.

But, minus these subsidies, how can it be a game-changer for UPA?

See, this is not an electoral strategy. This is a fundamental reform of the delivery system which is currently corruption-prone . It has serious issues of authenticity. If you remember , Rajiv Gandhi had said 25 years back that only 15 paisa of every rupee reaches the beneficiary, while 85 paisa gets consumed by the administrative machinery or in corruption . To escape that, Rajiv had launched a revolution in panchayats. Today, we will fundamentally rewrite how the benefits reach the people. The objective of the government is to send (cash) benefits directly to beneficiaries’ bank accounts. Through DBT, we are bringing in administrative reform.

What are the challenges you faced here?

Connectivity is still irregular in many parts of the country. The new system is crucially dependent on banking correspondents and more crucially, on banks and post offices that are being geared up. Today, banks are in a better position than post offices. By 2013 end, we may have 100 districts in India where scholarships , pensions , wage payments and subsidies could be launched.

What kind of subsidies?

Like fertilizer, hopefully. It will take some time for the government to distribute fertilizer , LPG and kerosene subsidies through DBT, but it will certainly happen. MGNREGA wages, pensions…this will happen in 100 districts by the end of 2013.

But why have some of the non-UPA and opposition-ruled states such as Bihar, UP, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Odisha, where poverty is very high, been left out in the first phase?

That was a decision taken at the level of the prime minister. There are some states where the enrolment will be done by the UID authority (giving Adhaar cards) and others where it will be done through the National Population Register (NPR). Those left out are NPR states.

But why Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, TN… ?

I don’t understand that. That’s a decision taken by the PM, finance minister and the home minister. You have to ask them. They divided India into two — one as UID and the other as NPR states. I don’t see any reason for continuing with this distinction. I don’t see any reason why UID can’t enroll beneficiaries even in the so-called NPR states. They can be enrolled based on the Adhaar number.

Why are you raising this now?

I had made a proposal to the PM three weeks ago. It’s up to him to take a decision. The proposal is under consideration.

After some NDA states included 90% of their population under the food security scheme, will the UPA rework the list of beneficiaries under its proposed Food Security Act?

Currently, this bill is pending before the standing committee. However, I’m personally in favour of a universal system based on exclusion criteria. For instance, someone paying income tax can be excluded. Otherwise, there are chances of leakages.

On the recent rape controversy, chemical castration…

Don’t talk on rape. No, no, don’t change the subject. I’m talking to you only on DBT.

You are part of the core team of Rahul Gandhi…

I’m talking only on DBT. No discussion on politics.

Corp Bank launches RuPay Aadhar card

January 6, 2013 at 8:31 am | Posted in Additional business, The Market | Comments Off on Corp Bank launches RuPay Aadhar card

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/banking/corp-bank-launches-rupay-aadhar-card/article4276206.ece?ref=wl_industry-and-economy

Corp Bank launches RuPay Aadhar card

A. J. VINAYAK

MANGALORE, JAN 5:
Corporation Bank has launched Corp RuPay Aadhaar card.

A bank release said here that this product is primarily aimed at providing easy and hassle-free banking services to the financially excluded and underprivileged sections of the society having Aadhaar number.

The card can be used at the conventional ATMs, micro ATMs or at the handheld machines used by business correspondents and at point-of-sale terminals at merchant establishments. The fascia of the card contains the Aadhaar number and this card can be a photo card or a non-photo card, it said.

Direct cash transfer scheme

Corporation Bank is a partner in the direct cash/benefit transfer scheme launched by the Government. This scheme will enable the Government to directly credit various social security benefits and subsidies to the accounts of the citizens, the release added.

vinayak.aj@thehindu.co.in

Vinod Khosla sets up entity in India for start-up incubation

January 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Posted in Additional business, Data, Technology, The Market | Comments Off on Vinod Khosla sets up entity in India for start-up incubation

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/uidai-launches-portal-to-access-data/195419/on

Vinod Khosla sets up entity in India for start-up incubation
Pradeesh Chandran / Bangalore Nov 10, 2012, 15:46 IST

Here’s good news for the young and budding entrepreneurs in the country with a social orientation. One of the co-founders of Sun Microsystems, venture capitalist and founder of Khosla Ventures, Vinod Khosla, is planning his first entity outside the US.

Khosla Labs, the new entity, will act as an incubator for technology start-ups in India. It is expected to start full-fledged operations within six months.

Khosla has hired Srikanth Nadhamuni, Head of Technology at Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), as the CEO of the labs. Nadhamuni was instrumental in building the technology backbone for India’s ambitious UID project ( Aadhaar ) which aims at giving unique identity for 1.2 billion residents. As of now, UIDAI has provided identification numbers to about 200 million residents, and aims to enroll around 400 million by 2014.
According to sources, Khosla Lab will act as a centre to help Indian entrepreneurs develop solutions and businesses primarily focusing on solving the various issues and problems in the country. Khosla does not have any plan to set aside a specific corpus for India. But, through the labs, he will help in creating ventures that can solve issues like social inequality, governance issues and public grievances in the country, they added.

When contacted, Nadhamuni confirmed his resignation from the UIDAI and said all technology needs of UIDAI have been fulfilled and managed service provider who has won the bid to run Aadhaar number repository and its IT infrastructure has the capability of taking the mission further. “I will associate with UIDAI whenever they need me,” he added.

However, he declined to comment on the future plans of Khosla Labs. “We are in an early stage, and have not charted out any plan. It will take a minimum of six months to make a proper plan. We also need to form a team to take Khosla Labs’ mission forward,” he added.

Before joining the UIDAI, Nadhamuni was the Managing Trustee at e-Governments Foundation, a non-profit trust founded by him along with Nandan Nilekani in 2003. It focuses on improving governance and public services delivery in Indian cities using a suite of in-house municipal ERP products.

According to a senior industry person who did not want to be quoted, Vinod Khosla is planning to make his presence felt more by setting up the Labs in India. “We know that Khosla is planning an entity in India through which he is planning to do some exciting stuffs in the country that will address many issues of ours.”

Some of the investments made by Khosla in India in the social sectors include SKS Microfinance, CASHPOR Financial and Technical Services and MokshaYug Access.

At present, the Khosla Labs is operating out of a rented premise in Bangalore. But it is in discussion with real estate developers for finding a location to set up the incubation centre.

Khosla who attended the Nasscom Product Conclave in India last year had interacted with about 10 start-ups to explore opportunities of funding. “India is slowly witnessing changes in the start-up ecosystem and interesting technology products are coming from the country. There are problems to be resolved in the country,” he had told Business Standard in an earlier interaction.

In 2011, Khosla Ventures had raised a new fund worth $1.05 billion for seed investment in the areas of clean tech, IT and internet.

UIDAI launches portal to access data

January 5, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Additional business, Data, Technology, The Market | Comments Off on UIDAI launches portal to access data

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/uidai-launches-portal-to-access-data/195419/on

UIDAI launches portal to access data
Public can access for several types of data through http://data.gov.in
Press Trust of India / New Delhi Nov 09, 2012, 20:40 IST

The Unique Identification Authority of India ( UIDAI) today said it has launched a portal, which the public can access for several types of data.

“The public data portal is in consonance with the larger vision of the Government of India to make data available through data.gov.in,” an official statement said.

The UIDAI has also been sharing information about the latest developments of the project in the public domain through its website (www.uidai.gov.in),” it added.

Apart from adhering to the requirements of the Right to Information Act of providing information suo-moto to the public at regular intervals through the internet, the UIDAI proactively puts out quarterly statements of its expenditure, various technical documents related to biometrics, proof of concept studies and working papers in the public domain.

“Public data portal is a major step in enabling transparency for improving UIDAI’s operations. Using data to enhance decision making capabilities and informed decision making is at the core of the rationale for the public portal”, UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani said in the statement.

The Government of India notified the National Data Sharing & Accessibility Policy (NSDAP) in March this year to promote data sharing and enable access to central government-owned data for national planning and development.

Aadhaar will save govt Rs. 1,10,000 crore says a plan panel study

January 5, 2013 at 6:58 pm | Posted in Additional business, Arguments For, Projections, The Market, UID Propaganda | Comments Off on Aadhaar will save govt Rs. 1,10,000 crore says a plan panel study

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/957673.aspx

Aadhaar will save govt Rs. 1,10,000 crore says a plan panel study

Saturday, November 10, 2012
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 10, 2012
First Published: 15:48 IST(10/11/2012)
Last Updated: 15:52 IST(10/11/2012)

The UPA government’s ambitious unique identification number project Aadhaar, would result in savings of about Rs 1,10,000 crore by 2020, around 58% of the expenditure of major public welfare schemes, a Planning Commission study released on Saturday said. The Prime Minister’s Office had given April 2014 as a deadline for disbursing cash transfer through UIDAI platform for all major government schemes.
A cost benefit analysis done by National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) says the savings for the government would be by plugging the leakage in implementation of government welfare schemes.

“A full edged cost benefit analysis of Aadhaar is hampered by two problems. First, many of the gains from Aadhaar are difficult to quantify as they are intangible. A main benefit of Aadhaar is that it can make many of the existing government programmes more demand-led, empowering the beneficiaries to hold programmes accountable for their entitlement,” said the study released by planning commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia and UIDAI chairperson Nandan Nilekani.

The institute studies 11 major government schemes including Public Distribution System (PDS), LPG and Fertilizer subsidy, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, pensions and scholarships costing government around Rs 2,00,000 crore annually.

In PDS, once beneficiaries are enrolled within the system, it becomes easier for them to claim their benefits because they can authenticate their presence as beneficiaries. It also reduces leakages due to better matching of supply with demand, the study said.

“Aadhaar will make the migration experience in search of jobs easier by giving an identity to migrants in their destination locations. Similarly, rights and entitlements can be decoupled from the location of the resident,” the study said.

The study also said that Aadhaar enabled system will reduce transaction costs involved in enrolling for a ration card in a new towns and villages, especially for migratory labour. “Such costs are expected to be driven down with a national identification mechanism and Aadhaar can play this role effectively,” it said.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/957673.aspx

NIPFP Study finds large returns from Aadhaar project

January 5, 2013 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Additional business, Arguments For, Projections, The Market, UID Propaganda | Comments Off on NIPFP Study finds large returns from Aadhaar project

http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=88975

NIPFP Study finds large returns from Aadhaar project

A research team from the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy presented the cost-benefit analysis of the Aadhaar programme to the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission today. The study finds that substantial benefits would accrue to the government by integrating Aadhaar with schemes such as PDS, MNREGS, fertilizer and LPG subsidies as well as certain housing, education and health programmes. After taking into account all the costs, and making modest assumptions about leakages, the study finds that the Aadhaar project would yield an internal rate of return of 52.85 percent to the Government.

The Twelfth Plan document as approved by the Cabinet aims at financial inclusion by providing Aadhaar linked banking services to all desirous households and progressively moving to ‘cash transfers’ for major subsidies and beneficiary payment programme.

The NIPFP study argues that if we were to add more programmes and expand the scope of the analysis, and also include the intangible benefits, the likely returns will be higher. Full details of the calculations have been released by NIPFP at the URL http://goo.gl/JzwaV on the web, so that other scholars and policy analysts can modify some assumptions and explore alternative outcomes. The full study is also available at the Planning Commission website at the link

http://www.planningcommission.gov.in/reports/rep_uid_cba_paper.pdf

‘Large returns expected from Aadhaar’

January 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Posted in Additional business, Arguments For, Projections, The Market, UID Propaganda | Comments Off on ‘Large returns expected from Aadhaar’

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/large-returns-expected-from-aadhaar/1029776/0

‘Large returns expected from Aadhaar’
Agencies Posted online: Sat Nov 10 2012, 17:29 hrs
New Delhi : Integrating unique identification number project “Aadhaar” with various social sector schemes like rural employment guarantee programme and PDS, would yield rich dividends for the government, says a study.
According to cost benefit analysis study done by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), the investment on Aadhaar project would provide a return of as high as 52.85 per cent to the government.

Substantial benefits, it added, would accrue to the government by integrating Aadhaar with schemes such as PDS, MNREGS, fertiliser and LPG subsidies as well as certain housing, education and health programmes.

“After taking into account all the costs, and making modest assumptions about leakages, the study finds that the Aadhaar project would yield an internal rate of return of 52.85 percent to the Government,” NIPFP said in a statement.

The NIPFP study argues that “if we were to add more programmes and expand the scope of the analysis, and also include the intangible benefits, the likely returns will be higher.”

As per the projections, the benefits accruing from implementation of Aadhaar scheme would exceed the expenditure in 2015-16 and in 2020-21 the total benefit would be Rs 25,100 crore as against the expenditure of Rs 4,835 crore.

Earlier yesterday, the government has announced rolling our of the ambitious electronic Direct Cash Transfer scheme for beneficiaries of subsidised items from January next year.

The programme is expected to cover 16 states by April 2014. The scheme, which is aimed at curtailing corruption and pilferage of subsidised items, will be based on the payment platform of Aadhaar which is also to be rolled out speedily in line with it. The 12th Plan document as approved by the Cabinet aims at financial inclusion by providing Aadhaar linked banking services to all desirous households and progressively moving to ‘cash transfers’ for major subsidies and beneficiary payment programme.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) implementing the Aadhaar project, will set up a dedicated cell of technical experts in UIDAI to facilitate Aadhaar enabled Direct Cash Transfers and help individual ministries.

Babugiri reaches new low at Aadhaar centre in Banaswadi

January 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Babugiri reaches new low at Aadhaar centre in Banaswadi

http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report_babugiri-reaches-new-low-at-aadhaar-centre-miffs-applicants_1763629

Babugiri reaches new low at Aadhaar centre in Banaswadi
Published: Monday, Nov 12, 2012, 14:53 IST
By Odeal D’Souza | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Officials’ apathy led to outrage among those who waited for hours to finish the formalities for getting Aadhaar cards at a Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) centre near Bank of India in Banaswadi on Saturday.

Members of more than 20 families, including senior citizens and housewives, gathered at the centre before 12 pm. Being Diwali season, most of them took a break from their busy festival schedule to come to the centre to finish the formalities for Aadhaar cards. At 12:45 pm, officials told those who were standing in the queue that they are shifting to the second floor and asked them to come at 2.30 pm. Officials asked the crowd to come back later as they needed time to complete the shifting process. The officials also said they required a break to finish lunch.

The officials’ abrupt announcement about a break without informing those who were waiting in advance or putting up a notice, outraged the crowd. But a senior official said: “We can’t do anything. We have to shift. All of you go and come back after 2.30 pm”.

Oscar D’Souza, who was part of the crowd that waited to finish the formalities, said: “Many senior citizens have come here. They have been standing in the queue for more than 45 minutes. You should have displayed the lunch timing and other details outside at the venue. How can you ask us all of a sudden to go away?”.

The official callously replied, saying that: “We know that there are senior citizens but we cannot do anything. We need to have our lunch.”

When a youth came forward to enquire about office timing, the official asked: “Don’t you know the office timing? Which office do you work in?” The official informed the youth about the timing only after the latter said that different offices follow varied timings.

An elderly woman who was standing in the queue said: “I have been coming for the last three days. They said some documents are not proper. But they did not tell me what the alternative is.”
Another outraged youth asked the officials: “Is this the way you conduct yourselves? The lunch timing is 45 minutes. You are asking us to come back after one-and-half hours. You didn’t even put up a note outside the centre indicating the timing.”

Saying that putting up a note indicating the timing is a good idea, a senior official instructed a junior employee to display office timing outside the venue. The junior official took 10 minutes to write the timing in a piece of paper and display it outside the centre.

Infuriated by the delay, the people refused to leave the venue until the formalities are over. “We have left our work and come here. We will not go. You finish the process for the people who are standing here,” they insisted.

Sticking to their guns, the officials said: “We want to have lunch. You go and come back after the lunch.” But seeing that the crowd was not ready to go back, the officials finally agreed to finish the formalities for these who were already waiting.

AADHAAR Project The Flaws And The Pitfalls

January 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on AADHAAR Project The Flaws And The Pitfalls
http://www.eng.chauthiduniya.com/aadhaar-project-the-flaws-and-the-pitfalls/

AADHAAR Project The Flaws And The Pitfalls

Publish Date : November 12th, 2012 | Print Article | Email Article |22 views

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The Aadhaar Project is a unique identification process which was established in February 2009. The project is implemented by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which is an agency of the Government of India. The project aims to provide a unique 12 digit ID number to all Indians and the UIDAI will maintain a database of residents containing biometric and other data. The ID number will be stored in a centralised database and then it would be linked to the basic demographics and biometric information like photograph, ten fingerprints and iris of the eye of each and every individual of the country. The verification of the number can be done in a very simple way with the help of online connectivity. It also gives a great opportunity for the Government of India to reduce and eliminate the large number of duplicate and fake identities in Government and private databases. The number which would be provided to an individual by the process of random generation will not be based on any caste, creed, religion and geography.
The main objective of the project is to ensure a form of identity for those people who do not have any identity. The project also aims at providing better delivery of services and effective governance. The total budget for the project is a whopping rupees 18,000 crores. In the 2009-2010 Union Budget, Rs. 100 crore was approved for the project for its first year of existence. The project got a huge boost when an amount of Rs. 1900 crore was approved for the term 2010-2011. For the budget year of 2012-2013, Rs 1758 crore has been approved for the project.

The claimed benefits of the project include :

  •  Aadhaar would be the sole source of identity of verification.
  •  People would be released from the problem of providing supporting identity cards on a repetitive basis for obtaining a passport, opening of bank account, driving license etc.
  •  The poor and the underprivileged residents would be facilitated into the formal banking system and other services provided by the government.
  •  Migrants would be provided with the opportunity of mobility of identity.
  •  There would also be a financial inclusion with a deeper penetration of banks and other financial areas.

However, the Aadhaar project is facing a lot of criticism as well, especially as its benefits are still to be proved. The main criticism has come from the Planning Commission — it has questioned the administrative system of the project. As per the Planning Commission the people sitting at the top positions would not be seated forever and thus the influence of people like Nandan Nilekani would be missed. So a system should be made wherein the entire procedure of selecting the administrators would be fixed and the issuance of cards would be easily understood by individuals who come by in the future. The other criticism is the infringement on the right of privacy of information which is a crucial factor in the life of any individual. The criticism is that there could be a misuse of the personal information, surveillance, profiling, linking and matching of data bases and thus the confidentiality of the information would come under threat. Another major criticism is the high cost that has been approved for the project. The costs that have been approved till date might not be covered by the future revenue that would be produced from this project. The budget for the project is a huge amount and not covering the actual cost would mean a loss of a big number which might even hinder the financial position of the country.

The Aadhaar project is facing a lot of criticism as well, especially as its benefits are still to be proved. The main criticism has come from the Planning Commission – it has questioned the administrative system of the project. Amongst other problems, there could be a misuse of the personal information, surveillance, profiling, linking and matching of data bases and thus the confidentiality of the information would come under threat.

Doubts about the reliability of the biometric methods is another criticism which the project is facing. It is an area of concern that the techniques used for biometrics cannot be relied upon as the testing of the technique has not been done fully. So the main basis of identification comes into a thick cloud as biometrics is going to define the main identity of an individual. Fingerprints are another major area of concern. It is often seen that the finger prints of individuals are not proper and clear at all points of time and thus there might be times when the finger prints would not be of the quality which the project is looking for. Yet another criticism is the time span in the completion of the project. The project would take a lot of time to cover the total population of
the country as there is such a big population, so it becomes even more difficult to complete this process efficaciously. And finally the issuance of the card would mean that no services can be availed in the country without this card . This would become a big problem as the time that would be taken by the project to complete the entire process of distributing identity cards to all the citizens would be lengthy and thus for those still waiting for cards, life could become extremely difficult.

 

BBC World News Horizons explores how biometrics are being used to protect identities and improve security

January 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Posted in UID Propaganda | Comments Off on BBC World News Horizons explores how biometrics are being used to protect identities and improve security
http://www.biometricupdate.com/201211/bbc-world-news-horizons-explores-how-biometrics-are-being-used-to-protect-identities-and-improve-security/

BBC World News Horizons explores how biometrics are being used to protect identities and improve security

horizons

November 15, 2012 –

The Eighteenth episode of the BBC Horizonsseries is headed to India to take a look at how the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has used biometric technology to generate a national identification system.

Broadcasting November 24 and November 25, show presenter Saima Mohsin travels to New Delhi, where the UIDAI has launched a national campaign that aims to provide everyone in the country with a unique identification code. As we’ve written extensively in the past, the program, called AADHAAR, consists of an exclusive 12-digit number generated using ten fingerprints and two iris scans of each individual.

Stored in a centralized database, UIDAI hope that this system will help India’s poor who find establishing their identity one of the biggest stumbling blocks to accessing welfare. Saima visits a homeless dweller who has used his AADHAAR ID to open a bank account and to obtain health insurance. Currently AADHAAR is enrolling one million people per day, in hopes of registering 600 million by 2014.

“It’s a highly scalable system because its holds the literally millions of records coming in every day, so we required very specialised high-performance software,” Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India said. “It is very ambitious to take on something like this and at this rate we hope to do about 600 million by 2014…Think of it as an ecosystem of apps, which gets built on top of an identity platform.”

Later in the episode, Saima meets the team behind Operation ASHA, a non-government organisation that’s using biometric technology to reduce the number of Tuberculosis sufferers in India, as we’ve previously reported.

Operation ASHA uses a simple to operate biometric system, which uses fingerprint ID and a computer database to alert counsellors by SMS of anyone who has missed a dose. Saima catches up with some of the slum dwellers who are benefiting from this system and finds out how Operation ASHA has already established a network of TB treatment centres. It is now extending its health services beyond India’s borders to other countries of the developing world.

The episode of Horizons will broadcast on BBC World News on Saturday 24th November at 01:30 and 08:30 GMT and Sunday 25th November 2012 at 14:30 and 20:30 GMT. The episode will also be available to view online after the broadcast at www.horizonsbusiness.com.

Aadhaar only an identity proof, not address proof, says D.K. Mittal

January 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Aadhaar only an identity proof, not address proof, says D.K. Mittal

Aadhaar only an identity proof, not address proof, says D.K. Mittal

Financial services secretary clarifies unique ID can’t be used as an address proof for opening large accounts

D.K. Mittal said there is unlikely to be any change in this stand as the central bank has to adhere to global norms for preventing money laundering. Photo: PIB
New Delhi: At a time when the government is preparing to use Aadhaar-enabled bank accounts for direct cash transfers of subsidies, the finance ministry has clarified that the unique identification number can only be used as an identity proof, and not as an address proof for opening large accounts.
Addressing the concerns of some northern states over problems faced by customers in opening bank accounts using Aadhaar, financial services secretary D.K. Mittal said that while only Aadhaar is sufficient for opening no frill accounts, it is not enough for opening a normal bank account.
There was confusion among banks over accepting Aadhaar as the sole ‘know your customer’ proof. The Reserve Bank of India, in a notification, had also insisted that banks satisfy themselves that the address given in Aadhaar is the correct address.
Mittal said that there is unlikely to be any change in this stand as the central bank has to adhere to global norms for preventing money laundering.
Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who was also present at the meeting attended by finance minister P. Chidambaram, finance ministry officials and chief ministers of some other northern states, said the government had received complaints about difficulties in opening bank accounts using Aadhaar.
The opening of Aadhaar-linked bank accounts is the key to moving towards a regime of direct transfer of cash subsidies for the various subsidy schemes of the government. The government has announced that from 1 January direct cash transfer of subsidies to beneficiaries will start in 51 districts.

As deadline for cash transfer rollout nears, states call system faulty

January 5, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on As deadline for cash transfer rollout nears, states call system faulty

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/as-dealine-for-cash-transfer-rollout-nears-states-call-system-faulty/196125/on

As deadline for cash transfer rollout nears, states call system faulty

Fin Min now trying to address the issue by organising special camps

Vrishti Beniwal / New Delhi November 16, 2012, 19:07 IST

The government’s plan to do all cash transfers through unique identity card Aadhaar from January 1 has hit a roadblock with many states saying the system is not foolproof yet.

After Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today pointed that the poor people were being harassed while trying to open a bank account though Aadhaar, the finance ministry admitted to some problems in the system.

“It’s not easy for a person to open a bank account. We felt there is a little bit of harassment,” Dikshit said, adding the concern was raised by most chief ministers of northern states in their meeting with Finance Minister P Chidambaram along with heads of selected public sector banks today.

On Thursday Chidambaram had said cash transfer of subsidies would be rolled out in 51 districts of 16 states on a pilot basis from January 1, 2013. He added every subsidy transfer would be through Aadhaar-enabled accounts–education loans, scholarships, MNREGA payments, old age pension, PDS subsidies, LPG subsidies, Indira Awaas Yojna subsidies and ultimately fertilizer subsidies.

The finance ministry is now trying to address the issue by organizing special camps. Officials said there is a difficulty in urban branches but not in the rural branches. Because Aadhaar is not available to everybody and there are operational issues, it has been agreed that the process of cash transfers won’t stop even where Aadhaar system is not available. For identification of beneficiaries voters ID can be used as valid proof.

“States’ concerns were very valid that account opening is difficult and we admit that there is difficultly. So the idea would be to admit the problem and then find a solution. We are going ahead with that,” Financial Services Secretary D K Mittal told reporters.

Mittal said what has been agreed is that where ever there is a large concentration of people who want to open account, in urban areas in particular, camps will be organised by the state government and the Finance Ministry and banks. In those camps, bank accounts will be opened.

Chief Ministers of Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand participated in the meeting. Punjab and Uttar Pradesh chief ministers sent their representatives.

Aadhaar is a KYC for no-frills account. For normal accounts Aadhaar will be one of the identifications. There will be other identification that will be required as specified by the RBI. Aadhaar will cover 18 states and Union Territories by April next year and 16 other states and UTs by April 1, 2014.

Initially, it will be rolled out in Kerala, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Goa, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Delhi, Puducherry, Karnatka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Govt eyes food security, shifts focus to traditional crops

January 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Posted in Additional business, The Market | Comments Off on Govt eyes food security, shifts focus to traditional crops

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-13/lucknow/35087242_1_millet-maize-cultivation-food-security

Govt eyes food security, shifts focus to traditional crops

Arvind Singh Bisht, TNN Nov 13, 2012, 07.52AM IST

Tags:
UP government|
Traditional crops|
nutritional values|
Healthy lifestyle
LUCKNOW: Traditional crops have once again made their presence felt, be it because of their nutritional values or awareness pertaining to a healthy lifestyle. Waking up to the prevailing trend, the UP government has made a shift in its agro-policy giving impetus to the cultivation of these crops, once a pride of the locals.

According to BM Singh, agriculture director, a blueprint has been drawn up for this purpose, which envisages to promote the farming of maize and millets-commonly known as Jwar (Sorghum), Bajra, (pearl millet), Kodo (kodo millet), Manduwa (finger millet), and Sawan (barnyard millet). They are the cheap, healthy food items, but have lost their importance mainly due to lack of knowledge about their nutritional value.

However, they are now much in demand and consumed in variety of forms by people who understand their value. For instances, corn, which was known to be consumed mostly by way of baking, is now eaten in many ways – from steamed ones to being used as a component in various dishes. Likewise, millets are now being increasingly recognised as nutrient rich, which contains low calorie diet consisting of low fat and less sugar.

So, apart from making contributions to health and nutrition, the traditional crops also play role in income generation of people. Thus focussing the agro-policy on this perspective, agriculture director said that 3.50 lakh hectares of land are set to be covered under maize cultivation during the ongoing fifth five-year plan. At present, the scheme is proposed to be undertaken in 24 districts, viz: Ballia, Gonda, Bahraich, Srawasti, Balrampur, Jaunpur, Sultanpur, Barabanki, Sitapur, Hardoi, Unnao, Farrukhabad, Kannauj, Kanpur Nagar, Ramabai Nagar, Kanshiram Nagar, Bulandshahr, Etah, Badaun, Mainpuri, Aligarh, Sonbhadra, and Aurraiya. Cultivators under the scheme would be given 50% of their total cost by the state government and 25% by the food processing companies engaged to buy their products. This way, the cultivators would also have the assured marketing support for their produce.

For better farming methods, farmers would be imparted training in new farming techniques to be organised at selected districts. With this, the yield of the maize per hectare is targeted to increase from existing 14 quintals to 50 quintals. Correspondingly, the total production is set to be increased in the selected districts from 4.90 lakh tonne to 17.50 lakh tonne and income of the cultivators is likely to multiply by three times.

Likewise, the cultivation of millets will be encouraged in half-a-dozen districts-Pratapgarh, Jalaun, Allahabad, Hamirpur, Banda and Chitrakoot, where these crops are grown traditionally. The incentive and training inputs would also be applicable to cultivators in these areas also.

The popularisation of these traditional crops, Singh said, has been clubbed with the food security programme in which the state had set to increase its foodgrains target to 537.38 lakh tonne during 2012-13. This comprises 332.11 lakh tonne of wheat and 145.59 tonne of rice. For the traditional corps, he said, “They are now used more as a part of balanced diet. This is because nutrition, health and wellness are intricately inter-linked.” Therefore, the benefits of eating right are greater and long lasting, as The trend was now catching up with people, who were aware of the adverse affect of preservatives like artificial colorants, addictive and chemicals, used by modern food industry. Contrary to this, the food items made of millets and corns have high anti-oxidant strength. So, returning to the cultivation of these corps is essentially a part of food security plan, he added.

One stop for all government schemes, Aadhaar

January 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm | Posted in Arguments For | Comments Off on One stop for all government schemes, Aadhaar

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/961880.aspx

One stop for all government schemes, Aadhaar

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 20, 2012
Email to Author

First Published: 16:00 IST(20/11/2012)
Last Updated: 16:12 IST(20/11/2012)
A committee of ministers headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to make Aadhaar integration must for executing every government scheme to ensure accountability and check corruption.

The central government disburses around Rs three lakh crore every year under 147 central schemes to the state governments. But, it does not have a system to check whether the money has been effectively used or not.
The unique identification or Aadhaar platform would provide government an opportunity to ensure electronic accountability systems. As of now, the central government is totally dependant on the state governments to find out how the central funds are used and does not have an effective mechanism to cross verify the claims.

“It can change with Aadhaar,” Nandan Nilekani chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India told HT recently. The reason is Aadhaar platform provides authentication to a particular service and when the central government leverages the service accountability would be automatic. “Pilots have shown that Aadhaar system works efficiently,” he added.

The Planning Commission, which coordinates the Prime Minister headed national committee on direct cash transfers, has received proposals from around 20 ministries to use Aadhaar platform to execute the schemes.

“All 15 flagship programmes and major government schemes would start using Aadhaar system in 51 districts from January next year,” a senior planning commission official said. This would be in addition to disbursing subsidies in these districts from next year.

An announcement in this regard is expected next week after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh takes first meeting of the national committee. Officials said additional allocations would be made in the supplementary grants to be approved in the winter session of parliament for digitizing the database and seeding it with Aadhaar numbers.

Based on the proposal submitted by the ministries, the technical committee would be fixing timelines for each ministry to deliver on Aadhaar platform to ensure that entire government spending is disbursed through Aadhaar platform by 2017. “The UPA-2 has given top priority to the unique identification scheme as a way to improve governance,” a senior government official said.

However, cash transfer of subsidies, fuel and ration, and financial incentives like pensions and scholarships, will happen by April 2014. The government has also announced a roadmap to transfer LPG subsidy directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries and pilots for ration subsidies are underway.

The ultimate aim of the government is to make all disburse funds to state governments and residents through one payment bridge- Aadhaar- and it is likely to be stamped at PM’s meeting on November 26.

Glitches in Aadhaar cards enrolment

January 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Glitches in Aadhaar cards enrolment

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/130105/news-current-affairs/article/glitches-aadhaar-cards-enrolment

 

Glitches in Aadhaar cards enrolment

DC | 9 hours 36 min ago

Anantpur: While lakhs of people are waiting for Aadhaar cards even though they got enroled one year ago, the agencies are sending Aadhaar cards second time for thousands of people for the same people.

For instance, 14 branch post offices in Garladinne mandal have received a bunch of Aadhaar cards second time on Friday.

As already majority of people received Aadhaar cards through post four months ago, same people have received Aadhaar cards second time by speed post in Garladinne mandal in Anantapur district.

Second time issuing of cards was reportedly a burden on the government in the form printing and sending the cards through post. A postman lamented, “I have to hand over all the cards at the doorstep of addresses though they were receiving them for the second time.”Similar situation prevails in Housing Board Colony and Tapovanam in Anantapur city. Aditya, an MBA graduate, told this correspondent that he had received Aadhaar card second time.

Half-baked scheme

January 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Half-baked scheme

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/302303/half-baked-scheme.html

Half-baked scheme
Jan 2, 2013:
The direct cash transfer (DCT) scheme has been set in motion in 20 districts in six states and three Union Territories in the country. Touted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government as a ‘game-changer’ the DCT scheme involves depositing cash subsidies directly in the bank account of an intended beneficiary. On the face of it this is a great scheme. Hitherto, programmes aimed at providing benefits to the poor tripped up in their implementation because the cash subsidies ‘leaked’ enroute their delivery and thus failed to reach the intended persons. The DCT scheme seeks to change this by bypassing middlemen and depositing cash directly in the bank account of the beneficiary. Migrant labourers, who hitherto were unable to receive cash subsidies as they are always on the move, will benefit from the scheme. Administrative costs which in the past ate into the bulk of the funds earmarked for a programme will be limited under the DCT scheme.

It is evident that the DCT scheme has been launched without putting in place the infrastructure necessary for its successful implementation. Only those who have bank accounts and Aadhar cards will gain from it. But many of India’s poor do not have bank accounts – the last census revealed that less than 55 per cent of rural Indians have bank accounts — and many are still to get their Universal Identity cards. One study shows that just around 4 per cent of the aged i.e. people above 66 years have UID cards. It does seem that a large number of people who need support from the government will be left out simply because they do not have accounts or UIDs. What is more, the number of banks in rural India is few and far between. Shouldn’t the government have set up more bank branches before launching the DCT scheme? Clearly the hurry to impress the voter has determined the UPA’s decision to initiate the scheme now.

In the coming months, the UPA government will expand the geographic coverage of the DCT scheme and also increase the subsidy schemes that will come under it. With an eye on impressing voters ahead of the upcoming general elections, it could accelerate implementation. It needs to move carefully, first watching how the scheme works and removing its flaws before implementing it elsewhere. A poorly implemented DCT scheme could prove disastrous both for India’s poor as well as the UPA’s re-election prospects.

Cash sops no magic bullet: Jairam

January 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Cash sops no magic bullet: Jairam

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/959981.aspx

Cash sops no magic bullet: Jairam

Abhijit Patnaik, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 16, 2012
Email to Author

First Published: 13:05 IST(16/11/2012)
Last Updated: 02:36 IST(17/11/2012)
Subsidies delivered through cash transfers are no magic bullet to fight poverty. It’s only a better delivery mechanism — whether through cash transfers or Aadhar cards — that the government has adopted to make the welfare schemes more effective and to check misuse of funds. Now, states needed to build the education and health sectors and improve connectivity and create a network of institutions, such as panchayats and women’s self-help groups, union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said at the 10th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi on Friday.

For this, he said the need for public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the social sector was crucial.

Faster economic growth has given rise to new kinds of poverty in India. Ecological degradation has led to the impoverishment of communities dependent on forests for their livelihood. More than 70% of healthcare costs in rural areas are out-of-pocket expenses.

While India has achieved much success in achieving the Millennium Development goals of reducing poverty and improving other social indicators, such as the infant mortality rate, a lot remains to be done.

According to the National Health Family Survey (2005-06), 40% of children under 3 years old are underweight and one in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India.

In this context, does the state have any role in reduction of poverty? “In my mind, that is an unquestionable yes,” said Abhijit Banerjee, professor of economics at MIT.

So shouldn’t the many centrally sponsored schemes be shut down in the interest of efficiency? Banerjee asked. “Well, schemes are hard to close down, because behind every scheme, there are schemers,” said Ramesh, with the audience erupting into laughter.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/959981.aspx

Odisha opposes Centre’s move of direct cash transfers

January 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Odisha opposes Centre’s move of direct cash transfers

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-11-13/news/35086615_1_direct-cash-cash-transfer-cheap-food
Odisha opposes Centre’s move of direct cash transfers

PTI Nov 13, 2012, 06.22PM IST

Tags:
Odisha|
centre|
cash transfer subsidy
BHUBANESWAR: An Odisha minister today dubbed as impractical direct electronic cash transfer of subsidies to beneficiaries in backward regions.

“How can it be possible when a large number of people in Odisha do not have bank accounts?” Odisha’s Food minister P K Deb questioned.

“The basic objective of the public distribution system to arrest hunger among the poor will be defeated if the beneficiaries are provided cash instead of cheap food,” the minister said.

The government instead should put a mechanism in place by which food items could reach the doorsteps of the poor living in remote areas of the state, he said.

The state government has realised the difficulty in direct cash transfer provision under MGNREGA work, he claimed.

It was planned by the Centre to pay the subsidy on food, fertiliser and petroleum products, in the accounts of beneficiaries from April 2014.

The Centre also planned to start the direct cash transfer of subsidies on a pilot basis in 51 selected districts in the country.

No Odisha district has been included in the pilot project.

Meanwhile, food supplies secretary M S Padhi said the state government was yet to get the National Population Register list from the Centre.

“It is not so easy to implement the direct cash transfer system in a state where about 22 per cent of the population are tribals,” Padhi said.

New committee to determine caste beneficiaries

January 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Posted in Process | Comments Off on New committee to determine caste beneficiaries
http://www.livemint.com/Politics/DKZUeGpjzqCNeOmoxQ1edO/Panel-to-determine-caste-beneficiaries.html

New committee to determine caste beneficiaries

Panel to analyse data from socio-economic, caste census and determine beneficiaries of various rural schemes
Comment E-mail Print 
First Published: Fri, Dec 28 2012. 11 27 PM IST
Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen will head the panel that will analyse the data. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen will head the panel that will analyse the data. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Updated: Fri, Dec 28 2012. 11 56 PM IST
New Delhi: Faced with the challenge of deciding which class of the poor should receive which state benefits, the government has formed a committee under Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen to analyse data from the socio-economic and caste census (SECC) and determine the beneficiaries of various rural development programmes.
Once in place, the new system is expected to help the government better target the huge sums of money it spends on social welfare schemes. Subsidies and benefits under various welfare programmes add up to almost Rs.3 trillion, roughly 3.5% of India’s gross domestic product.
The committee will include Kirit Parikh, a former Planning Commission member;Mahendra Dev, director of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research; Nikhil Dey of Suchna Evam Rozgar Adhikar Abhiyan; Himanshu, an assistant professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University; and P.P. Mitra, chief economic adviser in the rural development ministry.
SECC has surveyed all rural households in the country to collect a number of socio-economic indicators such as literacy, housing, assets and caste.
The adoption of the new methodology to determine the recipients of government benefits means all welfare programmes will be delinked from the Planning Commission’s below poverty line (BPL) criterion. It is aimed at ensuring that no poor or deprived household will be excluded from coverage under different welfare programmes.
The committee will also ensure that the system is consistent with the provisions of the Food Security Bill that are still being worked out. It has been asked to consult state governments, experts and civil society organizations and submit its report by 31 March 2013, on how best to target spending on social schemes.
Sen said 90% of the SECC data is now available although it will take longer before the complete data is in place. “The committee will start working with the data already available,” he said.
N.C. Saxena, a member of the National Advisory Council, said it will take at least another six-eight months to complete the data collection exercise.
“The bigger challenge is that Planning Commission thinks the methodology applied in collecting the data is flawed, which may throw up unreliable numbers. The states also have their own schemes. There are a large number of complicated issues to be handled,” he said.
In a joint press statement, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said in October 2011 that the government will take into account multiple dimensions of deprivation based on the indicators that are being collected through SECC for arriving at the specific entitlements that rural households will receive under various central government programmes and schemes.
“The present Planning Commission methodology will not be used to impose any ceilings on the number of households to be included in different government programmes and schemes,” the statement said.
Pronab Sen, former principal adviser in the Planning Commission, said what needs to be seen is whether the committee will or will not use the same criterion for all states and what will be the revised cut-off for classifying households as BPL.
“But the basic issue is that any exercise being done today is confined to the SECC data and the NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation) questionnaire. So I would not expect major surprises,” he said.

Whiff of scam in soon-to-be-rolled out UPA’s game-changer cash transfer scheme

January 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Posted in Problems, Scams | Comments Off on Whiff of scam in soon-to-be-rolled out UPA’s game-changer cash transfer scheme

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Whiff-of-scam-in-soon-to-be-rolled-out-UPAs-game-changer-cash-transfer-scheme/articleshow/17813753.cms?

Whiff of scam in soon-to-be-rolled out UPA’s game-changer cash transfer scheme
By Nitin Sethi, TNN | Dec 30, 2012, 02.35 AM IST

Government functionaries have raised the red flag about how cash would be finally disbursed to beneficiaries and whether the National Population Register would come into play in some states instead UID number to identify the end-users.

NEW DELHI: UPA-II’s flagship direct cash transfer scheme has run into rough weather following warnings of a potential scam in the making, and evoking concerns of serious delays. Government functionaries have raised the red flag about how cash would be finally disbursed to beneficiaries and whether the National Population Register (NPR) would come into play in some states instead of the Unique Identification (UID) number to identify the end-users.

Senior functionaries in the government working on the scheme have warned that the Centre could be staring at a potential scam if the scheme is hinged to the finance ministry’s department of financial services’ move to hand over monopoly contracts for distribution of money while taking a cue from the ‘one cluster, one bank correspondent company’ model.

The proposal is to divide the country into 20 clusters and have one firm each that acts as conduit for the final handing over the cash from banks to beneficiaries. But advisors have been cautioned that this could lead to monopoly control over UPA’s `game-changer’ scheme by certain companies, triggering scams. They have warned that the initial rollout of this model, where companies bid for much less than 2% fee for delivery of funds to beneficiaries, has already lent the whiff of a potential scam. For instance, the bids have been ridiculously low in some cases.

The rural development ministry and the UID Authority of India (UIDAI) have advocated against this approach but different government functionaries have made conflicting statements about a resolution to the row.

D K Mittal, secretary in the department of financial services ( ministry of finance), told TOI, “We will monitor the rollout and if any problems are noted they will be addressed immediately.”

He added that the department was geared to ensure that the banking correspondent model takes off in the 51 districts where the scheme is to be launched as a pilot. In these districts where the company is yet to take over the cluster, the banks have been asked to move in first, and the firm that gets the cluster through bidding would take over later, he explained.

Another concern that is plaguing the initiative is whether to trust NPR as a platform for timely electronic registration of the population in some states instead of UID. Government functionaries have warned that progress of NPR’s work is rather tardy in some states like UP, Bihar and Odisha. The volatile issue, which earlier too had attracted high-voltage sparks between UIDAI chief Nandan Nilekani and then home minister Chidambaram, has now been left to the PMO to resolve.

Jairam Ramesh puts off launch of direct cash transfer scheme

January 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Jairam Ramesh puts off launch of direct cash transfer scheme

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/jairam-ramesh-puts-off-launch-of-direct-cash-transfer-scheme/articleshow/17812253.cms

Jairam Ramesh puts off launch of direct cash transfer scheme
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Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has postponed by four days the scheduled launch on January 2 of the Aadhar-based direct cash transfer pilot project
RAJAHMUNDRY: Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has postponed by four days the scheduled launch on January 2 of the Aadhar-based direct cash transfer pilot project in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

“The launch of the direct cash transfer scheme at Gollaprollu mandal by Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has been postponed to January 6,” district collector Neetu Kumari Prasad said today.

A communication to this effect was received from the Union minister’s office, she said without elaborating.

Gollaprolu block was selected for the launch of the Aadhar-based ‘Direct Cash Transfer’ scheme as the pilot project. There are 42 shops in this mandal and 35 shops have been selected for this scheme, the collector said.

“Under the scheme, the subsidy amount will not be deposited in the bank accounts of the card-holders immediately but one month after the amount is credited in their accounts,” the collector said, adding that the beneficiaries will receive an SMS alert once the amount is deposited.

Under the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS), developed by National Payment Corporation of India, a beneficiary holding a unique identification number, can carry out financial transactions using a micro-ATM provided by local bank correspondent.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREG) wages in Jharkhand, social old age pension in Tripura and scholarship disbursement in Maharashtra are being serviced through the AEPS.

Biometric ID Systems Grew Internationally… And So Did Concerns About Privacy

January 3, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Posted in Information Society | Comments Off on Biometric ID Systems Grew Internationally… And So Did Concerns About Privacy
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/12/biometric-id-systems-grew-internationally-2012-and-so-did-concerns-about-privacy

Biometric ID Systems Grew

 

Internationally… And So Did 

 

Concerns About Privacy

As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2012 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series.

Around the world, systems of identification that employ automatic recognition of individuals’ faces, fingerprints, or irises are gaining ground. Biometric ID systems are increasingly being deployed at international border checkpoints, by governments seeking to implement national ID schemes, and by private-sector actors. Yet as biometric data is collected from more and more individuals, privacy concerns about the use of this technology are also attracting attention. Below are several examples of the year’s most prominent debates around biometrics.

  • FRANCE: In early March, the French National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) passed a law proposing the creation of a new biometric ID card for French citizens, saying the measure would combat “identity fraud.” Embedded in the cards would be a compulsory chip containing personal information such as fingerprints, a photograph, home addresses, height, and eye color. All of this information would be stored in a central database. French Senator François Pillet called the initiative a time bomb for civil liberties. Near the end of March, however, the French Constitutional Council ruled that the new law proposing the introduction of a new biometric ID for French citizens was unconstitutional.
  • MEXICO: Documents obtained by EFF under Mexico’s Transparency and Access to Information Act show that as of May, nearly 4 million minors had been enrolled into registries associated with a new Mexican ID card for youths. Billed as a document that can help streamline registration in schools and health facilities, Mexico’s Personal ID Card for minors comes embedded with digital records of iris images, fingerprints, a photograph, and a signature. Despite concerns about privacy implications raised by organizations such as the Federal Institute for Access to Public Information, the Mexican government is now poised to launch the next step of the project – extending the ID cards to adults.
  • EUROPEAN UNION: The issue of privacy concerns surrounding biometric passports in Europe made its way to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the highest court in the European Union. In September, the Dutch Council of State (Raad van State, the highest Dutch administrative court) asked the ECJ to decide if the regulation requiring fingerprints in passports and travel documents violates citizens’ right to privacy. The case entered a Dutch court after three Dutch citizens were denied passports, and another citizen was denied an ID card, for refusing to provide their fingerprints. The ECJ ruling will play an important role in determining the legality of including biometrics in passports and travel documents in the European Union.
  • INDIA: The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) continued collecting fingerprints, facial photographs, and iris scans from Indian residents for its massive unique ID endeavor, known as Aadhaar, which will result in the world’s largest biometric databaseand will compile 10 times as much data as all of Facebook. The program is moving forward at a rapid clip despite privacy concerns raised by advocates such as the Centre for Internet and Society in India, and the Indian Parliament. In addition, a slew of other government agencies have moved ahead with biometric collection programs of their own. And just this past week, Visa and a group of Indian banks unveiled the “Saral Money” account, which links individuals’ Aadhaar numbers with credit card transactions and introduces a further complication into the privacy concerns inherent in this massive e-government endeavor.

Why we should not en-roll in to Aadhaar ..?

January 3, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Arguments Against | Comments Off on Why we should not en-roll in to Aadhaar ..?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69wfV6Tfvms

Happy New Year 2013 : Why we should not en-roll in to Aadhaar ..?? # must watch video for Indians #

Tina Eapen  Aam Aadmi Party’   http://www.aamaadmiparty.org/

Published on Dec 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013 The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) (Hindi: भारतीय विशिष्ट पहचान प्राधिकरण), is an agency of the Government of India responsible for implementing the AADHAAR scheme, a unique identification project. It was established in February 2009, and will own and operate the Unique Identification Number database.[1] The authority aims to provide a unique id number to all Indians, but not smart cards.[2] The authority will maintain a database of residents containing biometric and other data.[3]

The agency is headed by a chairman, who holds a cabinet rank. The UIDAI is part of the Planning Commission of India.[1][4] Nandan Nilekani, former co-chairman of Infosys Technologies, was appointed as the first Chairman of the authority in June 2009.[5] Ram Sewak Sharma, an IAS Officer of Jharkhand Government is the Director General and Mission Director of the Authority.

Salient features of AADHAAR

Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique number which the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will issue for all residents in India (on a voluntary basis). The number will be stored in a centralized database and linked to the basic demographics and biometric information — photograph, ten fingerprints and iris — of each individual. It is easily verifiable in an online, cost-effective way. It is unique and robust enough to eliminate the large number of duplicate and fake identities in government and private databases. The random number generated will be devoid of any classification based on caste, creed, religion and geography.[7]

[edit] Pre Launch

Before being provided with a governmental infrastructure, a core development team was composed largely of non-resident Indians returning to India solely for this project. The Wall Street Journal called this Nilekani’s Dream Team.[8] The core team included Srikanth Nadhamuni, Pramod Varma, Wyly Wade, Salil Prabhakar, amongst many other people from both the public and private sectors. Most of the tech gurus that designed the unique ID system were of Indian-origin, and volunteered to help the effort without pay. This initial team provided, the alpha versions of the software, the strategy and ran the proof of concepts in the field.

[edit] Launch

UIDAI launched AADHAAR program in the tribal village, Tembhli, in Shahada,[9][10] Nandurbar, Maharashtra on 29 September 2010. The program was inaugurated by Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.[11] The first resident to receive an AADHAAR was Ranjana Sonawane of Tembhli village

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Delhi admissions: How Aadhaar has put EWS candidates in a spot

January 3, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Delhi admissions: How Aadhaar has put EWS candidates in a spot

http://www.firstpost.com/india/delhi-admissions-how-aadhaar-has-put-ews-candidates-in-a-spot-576456.html

Delhi admissions: How Aadhaar has put EWS candidates in a spot
by Pallavi Polanki Jan 2, 2013

#Aadhaar #Delhi school admissions #NewsTracker
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The Delhi government has dropped a bombshell on unsuspecting parents seeking admissions for their children under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in private schools. An income certificate is mandatory to apply for an EWS seat. As per the Right to Education Act, 25 percent of seats at the entry level are reserved for students from EWS.

Those do not have an Aadhaar number are in a fix. While an Aadhar number takes 60-90 days to be issued after enrolment, last date for applications is less than 15 days away. An income certificate, according to the government, cannot be issued without an Aadhaar number.

Representative image. Reuters.
Slamming the Delhi government’s move to link Aadhaar to a child’s fundamental right to education, Khagesh Jha, Delhi High Court advocate and education activist, said: “Income certificate is not related to welfare. It is an exercise of a citizen’s fundamental right. Today the government is saying that if you don’t have Aadhar, they won’t issue income certificate, tomorrow they’ll say if you don’t have Aadhaar, we won’t register an FIR. How can the government do this?”

Explaining how the government is infringing on a citizen’s fundamental right by making Aadhaar compulsory for issue of income certificate, Jha said: “The income certificate is a mandatory document to apply for an EWS seat. And the benefit of EWS flows from the Right to Education, which is guaranteed as a fundamental right by the Constitution (under Article 21 and Article 21a). You are making fundamental rights conditional to Aadhar? How can the government do this?”

Responding to news reports that that the Revenue Department had on Monday (December 31st) issued a notification making it mandatory for citizens to have Aadhaar for accessing government services, Jha said: “The revenue department cannot issue such a notification because it will be in conflict of Article 21. It will be immediately quashed by the High Court.”

Jha said he has been receiving anxious calls from many parents telling him that they have been turned away by the SDM’s office –responsible for issuing income certificates — because they don’t have aadhar numbers.

Satkar Gupta, a resident of Shakti Nagar in North Delhi, who works as an electrician was told off by SDM office in Tis Hazari because he didn’t have Aadhaar. “I went to the SDM’s office this morning and showed my documents to one of the officials there. I have a voter ID card, a ration card and an electricity bill in my name. But the official said that without an Aadhaar card, the income certificate will not be issued. I was sent back.”

Asked what he would do now and whether he had received any information on enrolling for Aadhaar, he said: “I don’t have any information on where I can enroll for an Aadhaar card. Besides, I am hard-pressed for time. To make an income certificate it takes at least 10 days. How will I be able to get an Aadhar card, apply for an income certificate and then submit the applications before January 15?”

He adds, “If my income certificate is issued in ten days, I will have at least two days to submit the applications. I can apply to at least 5-6 schools. Already, we are facing so many problems, it will be a big relief if the income certificate can be issued without Aadhaar. I don’t what to do now”

Gupta has two children two children, aged 3 and 5 years.

An official from the Saraswati Vihar SDM office, in North-West Delhi, confirms the new rule:”From 1st, the Aadhar has been made compulsory for the income certificate.”

Is cash transfer a ‘Congress calling card’?

January 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Posted in Critical Perspectives | Comments Off on Is cash transfer a ‘Congress calling card’?

http://www.business-standard.com/results/news/bashwani-kumarb-is-cash-transfer039congress-calling-card039/497376/

Ashwani Kumar: Is cash transfer a ‘Congress calling card’?
Ashwani Kumar / Jan 02, 2013, 00:21

By embarking on the world’s largest “cash transfer scheme” for the poor at the start of the new year, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II has upset the political calculations of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

Although Left-liberal critics and electoral rivals of the ruling party have called it the “Congress calling card”, direct cash transfer (DCT), or “aapka paisa, aapke haath”, through the Aadhaar-enabled Unique Identification has emerged as the most historic one-shot transformative social policy instrument in India. It is on a par with the abolition of the zamindari system, the Green Revolution, banks nationalisation, the Right to Information and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).

That explains the overhyped optimism in the finance minister’s description of the scheme as “pure magic”, and the unusual haste from Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, a firebrand progressive democrat, who will launch the scheme from Gollaprolu Mandal of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh today (January 2). That DCT has been sanctioned by the top Congress leadership is clear from the fact that the scheme will be rolled out in 20 districts for 26 programmes, despite opposition from prominent National Advisory Council members, academics and activists, and the not very encouraging results from the implementation of the Kotkasim (Rajasthan) pilot of cash transfers for kerosene.

Most critics do not oppose cash transfer of pensions, maternity benefits and scholarships. But many are strongly opposed to cash transfers for food, employment, health services and education, and prefer making these entitlements universal so as to not exclude the poor. Civil society critics justifiably argue that DCTs will accentuate poverty and starvation because they are not indexed to inflation, and may be used as an excuse to reduce welfare subsidies in the name of “good economics”.

Economists such as Esther Duflo argue that the outcome of cash transfer is robust when the beneficiary is a woman or the household is headed by a woman. But, in a highly patriarchal society like ours, exemplified by the tragic Delhi rape, the tyranny of male heads over women in families in rural India opens the floodgates of intra-household inequity. Also, the manipulation of welfare cash by the local elite and moneylenders is a distinct possibility, if micro ATMs are placed at neighbourhood grocers.

Given the phenomenon of “democratic upsurge” – the poor voting more frequently than the rich and the middle class – it is no surprise that UPA-II, pilloried for “policy paralysis” and “crony capitalism”, eventually gave “patronage democracy” a new respectability. Continuing with the Nehruvian vision of “state welfarism”, Indira Gandhi’s “pro-poor populism” and Rajiv Gandhi’s “new age digital solutions” for governance, Sonia Gandhi-led UPA-II – after reaping handsome electoral benefits from NREGS in 2009 – has come out with a potential game-changer for general elections in 2014.

The increasing popularity of NREGS across the political divide is not counter-intuitive, since most political parties love serving their constituencies, especially the poor (the voting population), through marketing social welfare policies. Although it would be foolish to equate DCT with plain vanilla “economic voting”, it would be naïve to ignore its potential in turning an “incumbency disadvantage” into a winning proposition. It also offers a masterstroke in blunting the sharp edges of the neo-liberal economic policy, especially foreign direct investment in retail and reducing subsidies on fertilisers and petroleum products. Besides, DCT schemes create “multiplier effects” for good governance without any confrontation with dominant caste and elite groups. Therefore, they don’t effect any change in power relations — a deviation from the spirit of the social welfare state.

Policy lessons from the implementation of conditional cash transfer schemes, such as Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, Mexico’s Oportunidades, Peru’s Juntos, Turkey’s Þartlý Nakit Transferi and Indonesia’s Program Keluarga Harapan, highlight enormous challenges in conceptualisation and implementation. Most South African experiences started in the 1990s and gradually expanded through trial and error. But these are primarily “conditional cash transfers”, which are implemented on the condition of fulfiling various conditions like school attendance, professional skills and regular health check-ups. However, there is no clarity about the role “conditionalities” played in outcomes. Studies from Zambia and Namibia point out that cash transfers may stimulate local demand and local market development; there is no evidence of a relationship between cash transfers and aggregate growth.

Randomised control trials of cash transfer to households with school-going girls in Malawi shows robust improvement in school enrollment and reduction in teenage pregnancies. But Brazil’s Bolsa Familia succeeded because it was implemented through state-owned banks and financial institutions. Thus, the tender floated by the finance ministry for converting India into clusters of privately-owned banking correspondents for cash transfer is not only bad economics but also bad politics.

The result of the study of Gangopadhyay, Lensink and Yadav (2012) may have prompted Sheila Dikshit to launch “Saral Money” and introduce DCTs for food subsidies in Delhi, but concerns over the compromise on food and nutritional security remains. In Melghat and Keonjhar – notorious for starvation deaths and malnutrition – DCT is potentially disastrous. With 100-million bank and post office accounts, NREGS stands out as the single-largest cash transfer programme, but the delay in payment has robbed it of its transformational impact. Given that the socio-economic survey for identifying the poor has not yet been completed, the issue of bogus below-poverty-line beneficiaries will wreak havoc with public money.

Given customary delivery failures and institutional voids at the grass roots in India, transferring cash for 26 welfare programmes will be a massive undertaking, which will involve identifying beneficiaries, deciding their eligibility and linking them with Aadhaar. Another major challenge is to open bank accounts or expand the reach of the postal network quickly, since only 40 per cent of India’s 1.2 billion people have bank accounts, and only 36,000 of 600,000 villages have a bank branch. Note that the total number of bank branches has been increasing but the number of rural bank branches has declined from 35,134 in 1991 to 30,572 in 2006. Therefore, the Reserve Bank of India needs to play a proactive role in ensuring the expansion of rural branches when it issues new banking licences. All is still not lost, and policy makers have rightly decided to focus on the postal network of 155,516 branch post offices in India, Integrated Child Development Scheme branches and rural points of service. In fact, privately-owned banking correspondents whose performance is at best patchy and fraught with malfeasance, will become irrelevant if each branch post office acts as a banking correspondent.

The DCT scheme is radical but it’s inspired by flawed “libertarian doctrine” to ensure that the poor are adequately empowered to avail themselves of benefits due to them to the extent that they may end up spending monetary handouts on buying liquor, gambling, weddings and funerals. Ideologically inspired by philosophers like Fredric Hayek and Milton Freedman, it promises to restore the autonomy of the individual, introduce greater transparency in service delivery and mitigate individual poverty. But it is no panacea for the widespread poverty, hunger and starvation. With a sluggish economy, runaway inflation and continuing food crisis, if the scheme is not backed up by a near universal food security Act, it may end up restricting the scope of universal entailments for the poor. It is surely “a game-changer”, but it is ideologically and politically disturbing, if not dangerous.

The author is Professor and Chairperson, Centre for Public Policy, Habitat & Human Development, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

2012 in Review: State Surveillance Around the Globe

January 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Posted in Critical Perspectives | Comments Off on 2012 in Review: State Surveillance Around the Globe

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/12/2012-in-review-state-surveillance-around-globe

2012 in Review: State Surveillance Around the Globe

As the year draws to a close, EFF looks back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2012 and discussing where we are in the fight for free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy. Click here to read other blog posts in this series.

All things considered, 2012 was a terrible year for online privacy against government surveillance. How bad was it? States around the world are demanding private data in ever-greater volumes—and getting it. They are recognizing the treasure troves of personal information created by modern communications technologies of all sorts, and pursuing ever easier, quicker, and more comprehensive access to our data. They are obtaining detailed logs of our entire lives online, and they are doing so under weaker legal standards than ever before. Several laws and proposals now afford many states warrantless snooping powers and nearly limitless data collection capabilities. These practices remain shrouded in secrecy, despite some private companies’ attempts to shine a light on the alarming measures states are taking around the world to obtain information about users.

To challenge the sweeping invasions into individuals’ personal lives, we’re calling on governments to ensure their surveillance policies and practices are consistent with international human rights standards. We’re also demanding that governments and companies become more transparent about their use of the Internet in state surveillance.

Signs of Growing International Surveillance in 2012

A new law in Brazil allows police and public prosecutors to demand user registration data from ISPs directly, via a simple request, with no court order, in criminal investigations involving money laundering. And, a new bill seeks to allow the Federal Police to demand registration data of Internet users in cases of crimes without the need of a court order nor judicial oversight.
Colombia adopted a new decree that compels ISPs to create backdoors that would make it easier for law enforcement to spy on Colombians. The law also forces ISPs and telecom providers to continuously collect and store for five years the location and subscriber information of millions of ordinary Colombian users.
Leaked documents revealed that the Mexican government shelled out $355 million to expand Mexican domestic surveillance equipment over the past year.
The Canadian government put proposed online surveillance legislation temporarily “on pause” following sustained public outrage generated by the bill. The bill introduces new police powers that would allow authorities easy access to Canadians’ online activities, including the power to force ISPs to hand over private customer data without a warrant.
The EU’s overarching data retention directive has become a dangerous model for other countries, despite the fact that several European Courts have declared several national data retention laws unconstitutional.
Romania went ahead with adopting a new data retention mandate law without any real evidence or debate over the right to privacy, despite the 2009 Constitutional Court ruling declaring the previous data retention law unconstitutional.
The German government is proposing a new law that would allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies to extensively identify Internet users, without any court order or reasonable suspicion of a crime. This year, more details were found on German State Trojan Program to spy on and monitor Skype, Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook and other online communications.
The UK government is considering a bill that would extend the police’s access to individuals’ email and social media traffic data. The UK ISPs will be compelled to gather the data and allow the UK police and security services to scrutinize it.
A Dutch proposal seeks to allow the police to break into foreign computers and search and delete data. If the location of a particular computer cannot be determined, the Dutch police would be able to break into it without ever contacting foreign authorities. Another Dutch proposal seeks to allow the police to force a suspect to decrypt information that is under investigation in a case of terrorism or sexual abuse of children.
In Russia, several new legal frameworks or proposed bills enable increased state surveillance of the Internet.
Australian law enforcement and intelligence agencies have continued to advance the false idea of the need for data retention mandates, mandatory backdoors for cloud computing services and the creation of a new crime for refusing to aid law enforcement in the decryption of communications.
A controversy arose in Lebanon over revelations that the country’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) demanded the content of all SMS text messages sent between September 13 and November 10 of this year, as well as usernames and passwords for services like Blackberry Messenger and Facebook.
The Rwandan Parliament is discussing a bill that will grant sanctions the police, army and intelligence services the power to listen to and read private communications in order to protect “public security”, the keyword often invoked to justify unnecessary human rights violations.
Pakistan adopted a Fair Trial Bill authorizing the state to intercept private communications to thwart acts of terrorism. No legal safeguards have been built in to prevent abuse of power and the word “terrorism” has been poorly defined (a word that’s often invoked to justify unnecessary human rights violations).
RIM announced that they had provided the Indian Government with a solution to intercept messages and emails exchanged via BlackBerry handsets. The encrypted communications will now be available to Indian intelligence agencies.
The Indian government approved the purchase of technological equipment to kickstart the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)—a project that seeks to link databases for ready access by intelligence agencies. The project is expected to facilitate “robust information sharing” by security and law enforcement agencies to combat terror threats.
Moving Forward

EFF’s international team and a coalition of civil society organizations around the world have drafted a set of principles that can be used by civil society, governments and industry to evaluate whether state surveillance laws and practices are consistent with human rights. In 2013, we will continue demanding that states adopt stronger legal protections if they want to track our cell phones, or see what web sites we’ve visited, or rummage through our Hotmail, or read our private messages on Facebook, or otherwise invade our electronic privacy. EFF will keep working collaboratively with advocates, lawyers, journalists, bloggers and security experts on the ground to fight overbroad surveillance laws. Our work will involve existing legislative initiatives, international fora, and other regional venues where we can have a meaningful impact on establishing stronger legal protections against government access to people’s electronic communications and data.

Visa offers network for distributing cash subsidies to Aadhar cardholders

January 3, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Posted in Additional business, Problems, The Market | Comments Off on Visa offers network for distributing cash subsidies to Aadhar cardholders

2 JAN, 2013, 03.50AM IST, GULVEEN AULAKH,ET BUREAU
Visa offers network for distributing cash subsidies to Aadhar cardholders

NEW DELHI: Global electronic payments firm Visa International has offered the use of its nationwide network for the government’s ambitious direct benefit transfer scheme aimed at distributing subsidies directly to beneficiaries.

Last month, the company, together with a consortium of banks, rolled out Saral Money, a payment service that allows Aadhaar cardholders to deposit and withdraw money from their low-cost bank accounts through existing ATMs, point of sale terminals, bank branches and proposed micro-ATMs. The banks Visa has tied up with include the State Bank of IndiaBSE 0.91 %, HDFC BankBSE 0.40 %, ICICI BankBSE 1.19 %, Indian Overseas BankBSE 1.83 % and Axis BankBSE 1.73 %.

Last month, it partnered with UIDAI to allow an Aadhaar cardholder to instantly open a bank account using biometric recognition or fingerprints for authentication of personal information. The cardholder will get an instant Visa debit card which can be used for depositing or withdrawing cash at any of the 500 business correspondent outlets that Visa is setting up across the country.

“We’re in talks with the government through the consortium of banks that we have tied up with. We’re talking to them for trying to use us in any of the 51 districts or any of the schemes they are planning,” said Visa’s group country manager for India and South Asia, Uttam Nayak.

“We have told the government that you give us a file of Aadhar numbers and the money credited to them and we will push the money to the account of whoever has a Saral Money card. Those who do not have an account, we will offer to instantly create a bank account. We will make sure that we create bank accounts for everybody who is getting benefits from the government,” Nayak added.

The government on Tuesday launched its direct cash transfer scheme under which subsidy payments will be directly transferred to bank accounts of some 2 lakh beneficiaries across 20 districts across the country. The first set of payouts will come from seven schemes.

These include scholarships for SC, ST and OBCs students, the Indira Gandhi Matrutva Sahayata Yojana, Dhanalakshmi scheme and a stipend scheme for SC & ST job seekers. The direct benefit transfer scheme will eventually include payouts from 26 schemes. Starting next month, 11 more districts will be covered and another 12 districts will be covered from March 1, taking the total to 43

Day 1: Direct cash trips on Aadhaar

January 3, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Day 1: Direct cash trips on Aadhaar

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/130103/news-current-affairs/article/day-1-direct-cash-trips-aadhaar
Day 1: Direct cash trips on Aadhaar

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Bengaluru| Mysore| Dharwad| tumkur: The Direct Cash Transfer (DCT) system, billed as a game changer by Union finance minister P. Chida­m­baram, seems to have hit a road block with the majority of eligible beneficiaries in the three districts, where the new system was introduced, having no Aadhaar cards or bank accounts.

Tumkur is one of the four districts in the country selected for the launch of the Aadhaar pilot project but has not achieved its target. The situation is no different in Dharwad and Mysore. Thousands of people in Tumkur remain un­a­ware of the Aadhaar card including the educated lot.

As part of the centre’s initiative, a few SC/ST college students got their scholarship amount credited into their SB accounts at Honnudike village in Tum­kur on the launch day – January 1.
In Dharwad, only one third of the eligible beneficiaries have Aadhaar cards and less than 20 per cent have bank accounts.

Mysore, which brought more schemes under DCT, is still struggling to get Aadhaar cards for beneficiaries and make them open bank accounts.

Implementing the cash transfer scheme is proving a challenge

January 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Problems | Comments Off on Implementing the cash transfer scheme is proving a challenge

Implementing the cash transfer scheme is proving a challenge
Shweta Punj

January 2, 2013

In the labyrinthine lanes of Chawri Bazar in Old Delhi stands a Gender Resource Centre (GRC) of the Delhi government’s ‘Mission Convergence’. Along with over 100 other such centres, it is tasked with executing the ambitious “Cash for Food” programme, Annashree Yojana, launched on December 15 in the presence of UPA Chairperson and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

The centre is a twelve-feet square room on the first floor of a dilapidated building, furnished with four tables, a dozen-odd chairs, an old, ripped sofa and five computers. There are about six women, mostly in burqa, waiting for their paperwork to be completed – which mainly comprises filling up a form seeking basic details such as age, names of family members, etc. The forms are being filled on their behalf by a GRC worker.

It is a-first-of-its-kind project. The Union government eventually plans to implement direct cash transfer schemes in lieu of subsidies across the country. The Annashree scheme entitles the seniormost woman of a beneficiary household to Rs 600 every month, provided she does not claim food entitlement from a public distribution system (PDS) outlet.

The process of cash transfers has three attributes for the beneficiary: an identity in the form of an Aadhaar number, a bank account, and cash. The money will be transferred, electronically and automatically, to the bank account, and the beneficiary should be able to withdraw it from a micro-ATM at any of the GRC centres using her Unique Identification Number (UID) – linked biometric authentication.

{blurb}

Namia Begum has been waiting for money to be credited to her bank account for nearly two months
The scheme may well be a good idea, but a Business Todayinvestigation reveals that the government has missed out on fine-tuning the details, crucial to making the scheme work, before starting it.

Micro-ATMs, for instance, are yet to be installed, and there is still ambiguity about the criteria for selecting beneficaries. The awareness campaigns of the government lack focus and the registration forms are in English, which immediately alienates a majority of the intended beneficiaries. It makes the process prone to errors and manipulation.

Two of the six women at the GRC centre in Chawri bazaar had been waiting for money to be credited to their bank accounts for nearly two months. Namia Begum, 63, enrolled in the Annashree Yojana in October – enrollment had begun before the formal launch – but since she does not have an account in one of six banks that have been specified, she has received nothing, while technically the money has been transferred to her bank account. She says that when she enrolled, she was never told that having an account in one of the six specified banks was a precondition.

Six days after the scheme began, a data correction option was introduced in the enrollment form. “We will be able to start the process of opening her bank account today. We just got the data correction option,” says Girish Chandra, Project Coordinator at the Chawri Bazar GRC.

While desktops have been placed for the beneficiaries to supposedly verify the data being entered, the form being in English makes it impossible for most to do so.

How long will it take for the micro-ATMs of the specified banks to be installed?

“We checked with Bank of India (one of the six partner banks). They said their system is not updated,” says Chandra.

There was also widespread cynicism about the scheme actually working. Most of the intended beneficiaries were apprehensive that the project would not be well planned and executed and were reluctant to register, preferring to stick to their ration cards. The fear could also be partly due to a campaign against the project by the Bharatiya Janata Party during the Delhi municipal elections in early 2012.

“There was some ambivalence around the project, because the opposition party ran a campaign stating that those who take cash transfers would be thrown out of the BPL (Below Poverty Line) list,” says Santosh Vaidya, Director, Mission Convergence, and Special Secretary to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Those in the BPL list get government assistance through various schemes, not just the PDS.

In Delhi under the Annashree Yojana, 300,000 families will get cash subsidies , according to state government estimates. For several of the women, a lump sum amount of Rs 4,800 – the Delhi government is crediting money with retrospective effect from April onwards – is a substantial amount, giving them hope of making a new beginning.

{blurb}

Shakila, for instance, has nine children, and hopes to get one daughter married with the money. Babita, 29, has difficult choices – she wants to secure a future for her two-year-old daughter and also create some kind of regular income stream for her husband who has been out of work for months.

But for the moment the cash transfer scheme – while a promising alternative on paper to the existing inefficient, corruptionridden PDS – needs a lot more spadework to deliver the goods.

Cash transfers and other dreams

January 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Critical Perspectives | Comments Off on Cash transfers and other dreams

Cash transfers and other dreams

Far from reducing India’s fiscal pressures, direct transfers are, in reality, an effort to rescue UIDAI
Himanshu Mail Me
First Published: Thu, Dec 06 2012. 07 50 PM IST
The only new thing in the new announcement is the fact that the transfers will now be contingent upon citizens possessing Aadhaar numbers in case they are to avail these benefits. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
The only new thing in the new announcement is the fact that the transfers will now be contingent upon citizens possessing Aadhaar numbers in case they are to avail these benefits. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
Cash transfers are the flavour of the month. Barely had the “scheme” been announced that liberal economists, fiscal conservatives and commentators alike shouted mazel tov. In reality, there are good reasons to doubt the potential efficacy and welfare effects of direct cash transfers. At the ground level, there is no sign of the preparations needed to make them work. Other than the fact that 29 government programmes will be linked to cash transfers and will kick off, initially, in 51 districts, little is known about the details of the roll-out plan. The break-up of these programmes by the ministries they are covered by reveals that they are largely scholarships and pensions. At the same time, the government has clarified that the issue of food and fertilizer subsidies is a complex task and will not be covered under this plan at the moment in the initial districts; the plan for issuing kerosene and cooking gas subsidy has also been postponed for the time being.
Most of these programmes are variants of cash transfers and most of them, in any case, are delivered through bank accounts either as direct transfer or in the form of cheques. That is, there is hardly any case of this being some kind of financial inclusion. Incidentally, there has not been any concrete evidence, so far, of ghost identities in any of these programmes nor has there been any evidence of leakages. Equally, there is no programme in the ministry of rural development—which administers most of the social pensions—that is leakage prone. Further, the total number of citizens who gain from these programmes is a small fraction of the population. That is not all; even the amount spent on all of them taken together is less than the annual food subsidy. Seen from this perspective, there is no scope of any reduction in the government’s financial commitment on these programmes. Plugging of leakages or elimination of ghost identities are mere ruses to distort delivery of these vital social programmes. If anything, there is every likelihood that expenditure on scholarships will increase as enrolment of students at the school level as well as higher education level continues to rise. If that is the case, then, at least, for the time being, there is very little to rejoice in terms of correction of fiscal pressures which were one of the driving forces behind this adventure.
The government, however, is optimistic that this will lead to reduction in expenditure on this count and there is some reason to believe that, albeit in a perverse fashion. The only new thing in the new announcement is the fact that the transfers will now be contingent upon citizens possessing Aadhaar numbers in case they are to avail these benefits. This will exclude many citizens who are eligible for these benefits and have access to these services currently through banks. But after the new plan kicks in, they will have to get an Aadhaar number before these benefits are restored to them. In fact, the real beneficiary of the new announcement is neither the finance ministry nor the nodal ministries or citizens but the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which has struggled to meet its target of covering large sections of the population. Compared with the average monthly enrolment of 7.4 million people in the last seven months, it needs to add 25 million a month to meet its target of 600 million by 2014. In the absence of parliamentary approval, forcing eligible citizens to take Aadhaar cards to avail the existing benefits, will, perhaps, be the most pernicious legacy of this plan, which is nothing more than an effort to rescue UIDAI.
By making these transfers—which were in any case leakage free—contingent on the possession of Aadhaar numbers, the system will lead to exclusion as well as making these programmes “indirect” welfare schemes instead of the direct ones that they are today. The seriousness of the government to plug leakages is also evident from the fact that states with the highest levels of leakages—Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa and Chhatisgarh—are not even part of the experiment in the first phase. These are also the states with the highest concentration of poor and marginalized people for whom the benefits have been designed.
It is, then, obvious that these are neither reforms that will improve service delivery nor will they help the government bridge its fiscal deficit. But what is worrisome is the fact that the government has missed the opportunity of undertaking serious reforms in the area of service delivery. For example, the real issue of identification of beneficiaries has not received the same attention in any of these plans. Given that Aadhaar numbers serve only as proof of identity and not a proof of eligibility, the tying of Aadhaar to the already leaky and faulty Below Poverty Line 2002 census is reinforcing the layers of exclusion and targeting problems which have plagued the system.
On the other hand, a much more serious thought needs to be given on how the socio-economic caste census is going on. For the record, this crucial element of reform has already covered more than 85% of rural areas as against less than 20% coverage of Aadhaar. Even more worrying is the government’s reluctance to enact the National Food Security Act (NFSA) which was seen as the real game changer until now. In fact, the hype around the cash transfer seems to be a precursor to the government’s intention of shelving the NFSA altogether. One can only hope that this attempt to fool the public is not as bad as the ‘India Shining’ campaign of the National Democratic Alliance government.
Comments are welcome at
theirview@livemint.com
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First Published: Thu, Dec 06 2012. 07 50 PM IST

A curious state of affairs

January 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Critical Perspectives | Comments Off on A curious state of affairs

A curious state of affairs

U S H A R A M A N AT H A N w i t h S U B H A D E E P TA R AY

 

SEMINAR 641 – January 2013

SNOOPING, surveillance, tracking
and constructing logs that help profile
people is entering the routineness of
state practice. The instrumentalities
that are created to carry out these tasks
invariably inhabit spaces where they
are shielded from scrutiny, supervision,
audit and accountability. Acronyms
abound: NTRO, NCTC, CCTNS,1
MAC, NIA, 2 Natgrid, UID, PII.3
Then there is the CISF in its freshly
minted form – and reinvented purpose
where the government loans out its
personnel to corporate houses.4 There
is, too, the impulse to legalize the crea-
tion of a DNA bank. What is known
about these instrumentalities is little,
very little. But, the little that is revealed
raises unanswered questions about the

state of law, lawlessness and just plain
nosiness of the state.

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Rajasthan to link 10 key services to Aadhar

December 28, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Posted in Applications, Process | Comments Off on Rajasthan to link 10 key services to Aadhar
http://www.thesundayindian.com/en/story/rajasthan-to-link-10-key-services-to-aadhar/3/43609/

Rajasthan to link 10 key services to Aadhar


AGENCIES | Jaipur, November 19, 2012 11:50
Tags : AADHAR| UID card| Ashok Gehlot| Rajasthan government| Aadhar linked schemes|

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has decided to link 10 key schemes to the Aadhar unique identification programme as part of the larger thrust on e-governance to ensure fast delivery of services with transparency and accountability.

In a phased manner, Aadhaar will be compulsory for old-age, widow and differently-abled pension schemes, rural job cards, ration cards, driving license, property registration, water and electricity connections, Indira Awas Yojna and student scholarships.

“The use of information technology will bring transparency in work and stop corruption. Accordingly, Aadhaar enabled service delivery system would be implemented in a phased manner across the state,” Chief Minister Gehlot said in a statement.

The decision was taken recently after the event at Dudu town in Jaipur district to mark the second anniversary of issuance of Aadhar cards that was attended, among others, by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

It was also decided to launch pilot projects to link the delivery of public distribution with Aadhar cards in the tehsils of Dudu, Chomu and Shahpura.

To help implement these ambitious schemes, Gehlot has asked all state departments to spend three percent of their allotted budget on e-governance, apart from establishing 750 posts to strengthen the information technology department, officials said.

Giving an example on e-governance, a senior official said an e-office project was set up at the state’s central secretariat recently to make government procedures more transparent and easily accessible through various information technology tools.

In the first phase, 15 departments were included — each of it with a nodal officer who will ensure increased use of computerisation. This apart, official files would be dealt with electronically and comments also posted online instead of hand written notes.

“This will make it easier to know which file is with which officer at a given time. This will speed up the work of the secretariat and make the process of decision-making and solving problems of the people faster,” the official said.

The other initiatives in e-governance include:

-Online issuance of learner’s driving license

-Applicants need to come to visit transport department only once for tests

-Jaipur Police to start issuing e-challans for traffic violators

-Focus on on-line recruitment, as in case of 10,000 police constables recently

-Medical colleges asked to use video conferencing for teaching

-Online land registration and issuance of certificates using digital signatures

-Six lakh state employees to get salaries based on ‘Aadhar’ registration from February

CBSE schools get UID breather

December 28, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Posted in Problems, Process | Comments Off on CBSE schools get UID breather
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/CBSE-schools-get-UID-breather/articleshow/17301964.cms

CBSE schools get UID breather

TNN | Nov 21, 2012, 03.59 AM IST

KOCHI: Even as the state education department is trying to ensure that each student studying in state syllabus schools has a unique identification number (UID) before the next academic year, the CBSE schools seeking NOCs from state government have been granted relief by the Kerala High Court.
“The high court had issued a stay on the state government’s demand that CBSE schools should compulsorily ensure UID registration for students for obtaining no objection certificate (NOC),” said Kerala CBSE School Management Association president T P M Ibrahim Khan.

The Kerala High Court in its order on September 14 had said that they didn’t find any rationale behind the compulsory requirement of allotment of UID to students in a school seeking NOC for affiliation of the CBSE/ICSE board. Observing that the government can’t insist on a condition that’s not within the powers of a school management, the court ruled that they cannot be compelled to produce the same.

“If for the statistics of the student community, the said number is required, we feel the government should take steps to enrol parents and family members, including students of every school, whether already affiliated or being affiliated,” the court added.

The ruling was given by a division bench comprising justices C N Ramachandran Nair and C K Abdul Rehim while considering petitions by 15 CBSE schools challenging the rules put forward by the state government through Kerala Education Rules for obtaining fresh NOCs to run schools.

Meanwhile, the education secretary on Tuesday had a meeting with officials at IT@School which has been given the responsibility of issuing UID to students through Akshaya and Keltron. “IT@School authorities have been asked to give a list of schools that have not been issued UID by Akshaya and Keltron,” said sources present at the meeting.

“We are trying to finish it by January 31. The government deadline is March 31, 2013,” added IT@School project executive director Abdul Kaipancherry.

December 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Int'l NID Card, Privacy Law | Comments Off on

Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants

Proposed law scheduled for a vote next week originally increased Americans’ e-mail privacy. Then law enforcement complained. Now it increases government access to e-mail and other digital files.

November 20, 2012 4:00 AM PST

 

Sen. Patrick Leahy previously said his bill boosts Americans' e-mail privacy protections by "requiring that the government obtain a search warrant." That's no longer the case. Sen. Patrick Leahy previously said his bill boosts Americans’ e-mail privacy protections by “requiring that the government obtain a search warrant.” That’s no longer the case.

(Credit: U.S. Senate)

 

 See also the follow-up story: Leahy scuttles his warrantless e-mail surveillance bill

 

A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans’ e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law, CNET has learned.

Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns, according to three individuals who have been negotiating with Leahy’s staff over the changes. A vote on his bill, which now authorizes warrantless access to Americans’ e-mail, is scheduled for next week.

Revised bill highlights

 

 

✭ Grants warrantless access to Americans’ electronic correspondence to over 22 federal agencies. Only a subpoena is required, not a search warrant signed by a judge based on probable cause.

✭ Permits state and local law enforcement to warrantlessly access Americans’ correspondence stored on systems not offered “to the public,” including university networks.

✭ Authorizes any law enforcement agency to access accounts without a warrant — or subsequent court review — if they claim “emergency” situations exist.

✭ Says providers “shall notify” law enforcement in advance of any plans to tell their customers that they’ve been the target of a warrant, order, or subpoena.

✭ Delays notification of customers whose accounts have been accessed from 3 days to “10 business days.” This notification can be postponed by up to 360 days.

 

Leahy’s rewritten bill would allow more than 22 agencies — including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — to access Americans’ e-mail, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. It also would give the FBI and Homeland Security more authority, in some circumstances, to gain full access to Internet accounts without notifying either the owner or a judge.

CNET obtained a draft of the proposed amendments from one of the people involved in the negotiations with Leahy; it’s embedded at the end of this post. The document describes the changes as “Amendments intended to be proposed by Mr. Leahy.”

It’s an abrupt departure from Leahy’s earlier approach, which required police to obtain a search warrant backed by probable cause before they could read the contents of e-mail or other communications. The Vermont Democrat boastedlast year that his bill “provides enhanced privacy protections for American consumers by… requiring that the government obtain a search warrant.”

Leahy had planned a vote on an earlier version of his bill, designed to update a pair of 1980s-vintage surveillance laws, in late September. But after law enforcement groups including the National District Attorneys’ Association and the National Sheriffs’ Association organizations objected to the legislation and asked him to “reconsider acting” on it, Leahy pushed back the vote and reworked the bill as a package of amendments to be offered next Thursday. The package (PDF) is a substitute for H.R. 2471, which the House of Representatives already has approved.

One person participating in Capitol Hill meetings on this topic told CNET that Justice Department officials have expressed their displeasure about Leahy’s original bill. The department is on record as opposing any such requirement: James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general, has publicly warned that requiring a warrant to obtain stored e-mail could have an “adverse impact” on criminal investigations.

Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said requiring warrantless access to Americans’ data “undercuts” the purpose of Leahy’s original proposal. “We believe a warrant is the appropriate standard for any contents,” he said.

An aide to the Senate Judiciary committee told CNET that because discussions with interested parties are ongoing, it would be premature to comment on the legislation.

Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that in light of the revelations about how former CIA director David Petraeus’ e-mail was perused by the FBI, “even the Department of Justice should concede that there’s a need for more judicial oversight,” not less.

Markham Erickson, a lawyer in Washington, D.C. who has followed the topic closely and said he was speaking for himself and not his corporate clients, expressed concerns about the alphabet soup of federal agencies that would be granted more power:

 

 There is no good legal reason why federal regulatory agencies such as the NLRB, OSHA, SEC or FTC need to access customer information service providers with a mere subpoena. If those agencies feel they do not have the tools to do their jobs adequately, they should work with the appropriate authorizing committees to explore solutions. The Senate Judiciary committee is really not in a position to adequately make those determinations.

 

The list of agencies that would receive civil subpoena authority for the contents of electronic communications also includes the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Postal Regulatory Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission.

Leahy’s modified bill retains some pro-privacy components, such as requiring police to secure a warrant in many cases. But the dramatic shift, especially the regulatory agency loophole and exemption for emergency account access, likely means it will be near-impossible for tech companies to support in its new form.

A bitter setback
This is a bitter setback for Internet companies and a liberal-conservative-libertarian coalition, which had hoped to convince Congress to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act to protect documents stored in the cloud. Leahy glued those changes onto an unrelatedprivacy-related bill supported by Netflix.

At the moment, Internet users enjoy more privacy rights if they store data on their hard drives or under their mattresses, a legal hiccup that the companies fear could slow the shift to cloud-based services unless the law is changed to be more privacy-protective.

Members of the so-called Digital Due Process coalition include Apple, Amazon.com, Americans for Tax Reform, AT&T, the Center for Democracy and Technology, eBay, Google, Facebook, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, TechFreedom, and Twitter. (CNET was the first to report on the coalition’s creation.)

Leahy, a former prosecutor, has a mixed record on privacy. He criticized the FBI’s efforts to require Internet providers to build in backdoors for law enforcement access, and introduced a billin the 1990s protecting Americans’ right to use whatever encryption products they wanted.

But he also authored the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which isnow looming over Web companies, as well as the reviled Protect IP Act. An article in The New Republic concluded Leahy’s work on the Patriot Act “appears to have made the bill less protective of civil liberties.” Leahy had introduced significant portions of the Patriot Act under the name Enhancement of Privacy and Public Safety in Cyberspace Act (PDF) a year earlier.

One obvious option for the Digital Due Process coalition is the simplest: if Leahy’s committee proves to be an insurmountable roadblock in the Senate, try the courts instead.

Judges already have been wrestling with how to apply the Fourth Amendment to an always-on, always-connected society. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police needed a search warrant for GPS tracking of vehicles. Some courts have ruled that warrantless tracking of Americans’ cell phones, another coalition concern, is unconstitutional.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies already must obtain warrants for e-mail in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, thanks to a ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010.

Updated at 5:00 p.m. PT with the proposed amendments, 4:28 p.m. PT to clarify sourcing and at 9:45 a.m. PT with additional details.

BioEnable Technologies gets STQC certification for single-finger scanner, to be used in UIDAI Aadhaar project

December 28, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Posted in Infrastructure, Process, The Market | Comments Off on BioEnable Technologies gets STQC certification for single-finger scanner, to be used in UIDAI Aadhaar project

http://www.biometricupdate.com/201211/bioenable-technologies-gets-stqc-certification-for-single-finger-scanner-to-be-used-in-uidai-aadhaar-project/

BioEnable Technologies gets STQC certification for single-finger scanner, to be used in UIDAI Aadhaar project

bioenable_smaller

November 22, 2012 –

The eNBioScan-C1, the FBI-certified single-finger scanner from BioEnable Technologies, was recently awardedStandardization Testing and Quality Certification (STQC) certification for the Unique Identity Authority of India’s http://uidai.gov.in/ (UIDAI) Aadhaar project.

BioEnable Technologies has been developing biometric solutions for identification, automation and tracking solutions for commercial and government clients over the past 10 years.

The UIDAI program employs biometrics in an effort to identify India’s 1.2 billion residents. Under the program, which started in 2010, each man woman and child will have their fingerprints and iris scanned. Information gathered will be embedded in a unique 12-digit identification card, called Aadhaar.

“STQC has strict testing guidelines and the eNBioScan-C1 fingerprint scanners have successfully passed the tests under the STQC’s Biometric Device Certification Scheme, designed to facilitate the availability of quality-assessed biometric devices to identity verification agencies,” BioEnable managing director Pradeep Bhatia said.

“We are honored to have the eNBioScan-C1 receive this certification as this is now required for most Indian fingerprint procurements. Our goal has always been to provide quality biometric products and solutions over the last 10 years. Obtaining STQC certification is confirmation of that goal.”

The company will provide technical support required to kick-start integration with the UIDAI AADHAAR authentication server. In addition to its STQC certification, the eNBioScan-C1 is alsoFBI Personal Identity Verification (PIV) certified and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) compliant.

As reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, BioEnable Technologies recently launched its new biometric Child-ID system, to help reduce incidents of newborn child swapping and child thefts.

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