Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Is Aadhaar (Unique Identification Number) Too Dangerous?

Aadhaar: A Gate To Disaster?

Aadhaar: A Gate To Disaster?

 

The Aadhaar project started with great fanfare, but it’s now on the verge of meeting an untimely death. It became the converging point of great expectations, to an extent that it was hailed as image of “new and modern India”. That’s why  it created great chaos among middle classes, which like always, showed vain excitement to have it by hook or by crook, bothering least about the pros and cons of owning unique identity (UID). This project, bearing close resemblance to similar scheme in United Kingdom, was mired in contradictions right from the beginning. On the top of it, continuous conflicting statements from government, regarding its utility, kept the average mass guessing about its actual worth.

It needs to be informed that several experts in the West have already given enough signals that such project of this type having sensitive data based on biometrics could be used in a wrong way. In fact, they could be used to eliminate and target a large community not serving the interest of people in power. However, in countries like India, where we know how government agencies function, it’s always a great possibility that data could be misused, even if there is no such threat of this magnitude as apprehended by experts in West. It would be interesting to know that similar project in United Kingdom met tough resistance on part of British citizens for many years, which left British government with no other option other than to quash it. A report prepared by London School of Economics made mockery of  tall claims made by the government about its significance and it revealed that “biometrics was not a reliable method of de-duplication.”

However, neither the government nor Nandan Nilekani made Indian citizens aware of such serious flaws inherent in this project. On the contrary, it created tension by giving the impression that not owning it meant losing benefits and subsidies involved in various government run schemes. Ironically, just visit any camp where Aadhaar cards are being prepared and one would be taken aback by the mess which prevails there. It’s hard to believe that government has enough will power (forget about enough infrastructure)  to keep the data safe! I am sure ones whose data get stored either in wrong way or with wrong sorts of details would definitely face huge issues in coming days. Even at infrastructure level, the picture that emerges is quite threatening since its budget has increased phenomenally from nearly 32 billion rupees to over 88 billion rupees for coming phases.

That’s why Supreme Court’s judgement came as a whiff of fresh air. It directed the government not to make it mandatory for Indian citizens, and that it could not be a ground to deny services introduced by government. Above all, it made it clear that details collected by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) would not be shared by it with any other government agency without prior permission of the concerned individual. At this point, it would not be out of place to refer to Social Security Number (SSN) used in USA, which does not compromises with right to privacy. The most shocking thing is that despite strict provisions there to stop identity theft such cases keep happening there leading to huge revenue loss. Now imagine the state of affairs in India where rules can be easily manipulated to benefit the vested interests! Who would guarantee that data protection and privacy would always remain a top priority in India?

The Supreme Court made this observations in PIL filed by retired Karnataka High Court judge Justice KS Puttaswamy and Maj Gen (retd) SG Vombatkere which dealt with constitutional validity of Aadhaar. As per their counsel even if there was any statute to provide validity to this project, it would still be violation of Fundamental Rights under Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution. The project facilitating surveillance of individuals was a direct assault on the dignity of any individual. The main arguments rested upon these concerns: “…the (Aadhaar) project is also ultra vires because there is no statutory guidance (a) on who can collect biometric information; (b) on how the information is to be collected; (c) on how the biometric information is to be stored; (d) on how throughout the chain beginning with the acquisition of biometric data to its storage and usage, this data is to be protected; (e) on who can use the data; (f) on when the data can be used.” (As quoted in moneylife)

In fact, Goa case had already made it clear how could biometric data be used against the interests of any individual. In this case UIDAI had challenged  a decision of Goa Bench of Bombay High Court. It had  asked it to share biometric data with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) so that the case involving gang rape of a seven year old girl in Vasco reached to its logical culmination.

Anyway, the Supreme Court’s decision to not to make it mandatory is enough to make Indian citizens heave a sigh of relief. It’s high time that before government embarks upon sensitive project it needs to take enough measures to ensure its appropriateness, relevance and significance quite well.

How will it keep intact the privacy of an individual in such a huge country devoid of infrastructure?

How will it keep intact the privacy of an individual in such a huge country devoid of infrastructure?

In Conversation With Well- Known British Author Jeremy Seabrook On Education System

JeremySeabrook: Never Missed To Say Right Words Always

JeremySeabrook: Never Missed To Say Right Words Always!

In the long writing career, spanning over nearly two decades, I got many chances to interact with enlightened minds and share with them a piece of my mind in matters pertaining to critical issues. A long back ago when I was regular contributor for The Statesman’s Viewpoint Column ( Calcutta Edition), I came in touch with Jeremy Seabrook who was then writing for one of its popular columns.

This conversation related with falling standards of education system took place after I came to read his article” Learning Revisited” published in The Statesman on March 14, 2005.

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My  Viewpoint: 

Your write-up is an eye-opener, allowing one to reckon with the hidden facets of education. I am appalled at the manner in which institutions offering so-called gems of knowledge, which in reality are antithetical to creative tendencies lying latent within the recipients, have solidified their base. One reason for it could be that parents are now no longer interested in “value-oriented” teaching methods, simply because it stands in the way of attaining ‘name and fame’. No wonder this could be the reason behind the mind-boggling network of coaching factories, which are making huge profit in the name of offering conductive atmosphere for cracking the entrance tests. 

This attitude of parents has brought a sea change in the attitude of present day students, who weigh everything in materialistic yardsticks or, in other words, in rupee:dollar ratio. After all, who has time for values in the fast-paced life of ours! The real quest for supreme knowledge would always remain a distant dream in absence of change of mindset, especially the parents.  Well, it’s never too easy to change mindset without giving way to measures mired in transparent means. What has guaranteed failure of projects in this regard has been wide gap between theory and practice besides infrastructural bottlenecks. Let’s realize that mere propaganda is not going to solve this issue. 

Unfortunately, this is what both Left and Right wings are used to. Their stances, diametrically opposite to each other, have wiped out the vigour of those wishing to make worthwhile contributions, so much so that if one does not yield to their outdated notions one is bound to invite troubles of all sorts. The message is clear: Rise above ideological fanaticism to stop the degradation of education system, something so imperative to prevent the innocent minds turning into  robot. 

Vivekananda rightly remarked that ” education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and run riot there, undigested, all life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas”. Will anyone please translate this into reality? 

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Jeremy Seabrook: One Of The Great Writers Who Inspired Me To Keep Writing!

Jeremy Seabrook: One Of The Great Writers Who Inspired Me To Keep Writing!

Jeremy Seabrook’s Viewpoint:

Many thanks for your helpful and kind e-mail. Indeed, education has become not an end in itself, noble and worthwhile, but an instrument for material gain and industrial conformism. In this sense, of course, the educational system is only an emanation of the society that produces it, and an expression of the social values and mores of which it is a symptom. Intervention for change involves a complete change in the social and moral structures of globalism-no small thing, but a project we should not abandon simply because of its apparent attainability. 

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About Jeremy Seabrook:

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My first book was The Unprivileged, 1967, the story of my own family, a path breaking oral history from the late 18th century to the 1960s. This was followed by City Close-Up, a portrait, through the words of the people, of Blackburn in Lancashire.
 
In the 1970s, I wrote What Went Wrong? Working People and the Ideals of the Labour Movement; a book which, when published in the USA, was sub-titled Why hasn’t Having More Made People Happier?
 

Mother and Son, a memoir, appeared in 1980, and an indictment of Thatcher’s Britain,Unemployment, in 1982.
 
Work on India and Bangladesh followed, notably, Notes from another India and Children of Other Worlds, a comparison of child labour in nineteenth century London and present-day Dhaka in Bangladesh. My book, Love in a Different Climate, described how male same-sex relationships in India differ from those in the West.

 I have contributed to most major newspapers in Britain over the years, and have written for Granta. I am a regular contributor to New Internationalist – which has published three of my books in the last decade, most recently Consuming Cultures: Globalization and Local Lives. I write for Race and Class and Third World Resurgence, based in Penang, Malaysia.

Courtesy: http://jeremyseabrook.net/biography.html

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More About Jeremy Seabrook:

“He became an associate honorary fellow at the University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies 1995 to 1998 and an associate at the Institute of Race Relations, UK, from 2004 onwards.

He has made several documentaries for BBC radio and TV on social, environmental and developmental issues.

Since 1963, Seabrook has written for publications including: New Society, the Guardian, the Times, the Independent, New Statesman, New Internationalist, Race and Class, Third World Resurgence, Third World Network and others.

He has also written over 40 books, including;

Travels in the Skin Trade – looking at the psychology of western men who travel to southeast Asia for sexual adventures (Pluto Press).

A World Growing Old – the implications of an ageing population, north and south (Pluto Press).”

Courtesy: The Guardian

What will be her future?

What will be her future?

References:

Jeremy Seabrook

Guardian

The Statesman ( Kolkata Edition)

Pics Credit:

 


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