In Aadhaar Act The EDIT PAGE

The Curious Case of Aadhaar

Ever wondered, if the concerned issues pertaining to an Act are not addressed properly, what would be the possible aftereffects? Uh.huh! Obamacare is here to tell you the long story cut short. Aadhaar, the world’s biggest biometric ID programme ever, if conveys the story of successful implementation of a scheme in the world’s largest democracy, it also questions the efficacy and sincerity of the Indian government, amid the lack of law of privacy and data protection.    

Learning the Unlearned Way
Among the most debated news at primetime slots in both the countries, almost at the same time, Affordable Care Act, 2010, USA and The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, India, have finally met the same fate. Of course, there are differences.  The Affordable Care Act, famously called Obamacare was enacted by the 111th US Congress and signed into law by the then US president Barack Obama. The NIAI bill, however, could never see the light of the day and finally withdrawn from Parliament.

Having said that in spite of the outright rejection by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, headed by Yashwant Sinha-Former Finance Minister of India, the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) continued its business of distributing Aadhaar Card based on voluntary basis. It was never made mandatory until Aadhaar Act, 2016 came into picture. Obamacare failed to address Republicans’ as well as experts’ concerns at large, in its lifetime and hence was finally repealed by Trump’s administration. However, on the stake are 24 million lives who subscribed to Obamacare.
Similar to NIAI bill which failed to address the then opposition, BJP’s concerns, the new Aadhaar Act has not only bypassed the opposition's concerns, but also the legal windows by making its day as money bill. The Supreme Court is yet to constitute the 7-members judges’ bench hear the year old standing plea. On the stake, are 118 crore people’s data. 

What is Aadhar? What exactly it aims to achieve?
Soon after the 15th LokSabha election results, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, partially inspired from the then Infosys chairman Nandan Nilekani’s book ‘Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation’, asked Nilekani to envision and implement Multipurpose National Identity Card – a 12-digit Aadhaar number – for every Indian. The aim was quite clear: efficient delivery of welfare services. Since this Unique Identity card would be biometric, the huge challenge against Nilekani, the chairperson of UIDAI, was creating a failsafe electronic government data base of the entire population of India. Nilekani recalled it – the biggest social project on the planet.

Well, what do you mean by the efficient delivery of welfare services?
Among the welfare schemes are: LPG at subsidized rate, mid-day meal to kids attending public schools, rice-wheat distribution at subsidized rate to people living below poverty level (BPL) and so on.  And, as per the Planning Commission reports, every year, almost Rs50,000 crore went in vain, as it never reached to the beneficiary owing to the duplicate identity cards and dealers and agencies involved in between the government and beneficiaries. With Aadhaar card being biometric in nature, making duplicate cards under the same identity is theoretically impossible.   
If Aadhaar Card is all about the genuine benefits to the people, then why so hullabaloo?
The Aadhaar card detail is not limited to the biometric, but it has got the entire personal details that include: Name, Father’s Name, DoB, Mobile No. and Address too. The data is sensitive, as Aadhaar is going to be a single window gateway to all your details, your banks’ accounts, Tax details and so on. Responding to Quartz, Nilekani averred, “Each device is individually encrypted and registered with the UID system. So you cannot fake all this.”   However, it has been widely reported that how Aadhaar data of 130 million people were compromised; how Jharkhand Govt. has accidentally leaked more than 1 million Aadhaar records of pensioners. Also, how various Common Service Centres across the country were involved in leaking the information, right from the collection to storage, accuracy and use of Aadhaar data!   
Some people are aware of trade-offs between privacy and convenience while using Microsoft OS, Google search engines or Apple iCloud. However, providing services for more than a decade, there have been no intentional leaks of the collected data to third parties, by the above mentioned companies. This is not the case with Aadhaar. The recent leaks and Aadhaar data accessibility through simple google searches also questions the governments’ capability of handling data at large scale. This doesn’t stop here. Despite the 27 Do’s and 9 Don’ts guidelines released by the central government, section 8, of Aadhaar Act, is drastically different from that of NIAI bill, 2010. While the NIAI bill allowed the authentication limited to the biometric match only with Yes/No option. The Aadhaar Act allows the requesting agency/person to ask for other information too, pertaining to the person’s identity.
Legal Glitches
As notified earlier, the Act has been passed under Money Bill. However, according to the Article 110 of the constitution, a bill can be classified as Money Bill, only if 
 It imposes, alters, abolishes, or regulates any tax; 
 Regulates borrowing or alters the financial obligations of the government; an
 Affects the custody of the consolidated fund of Indiaor appropriates payments, withdrawals and expenditures from the fund and matters incidental to all these actions. 
Under the same Article 110 (3), the constitution has given the Speaker of the lower House, LokSabha, the final authority to decide whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not.  Responding to queries, whether Aadhaar falls under Money Bill or not, Dr. Anup Surendranath, Professor, Constitutional Law-National Law University, Delhi averred, “Introducing  and  passing  the  Aadhaar Act  as  a  Money  Bill  amounts  to  a  gross  illegality because there is no manner in which the contents of the Act can be justified under the terms of Article 110(1). Many commentators have rightly pointed out that the use of the word “only” in Article 110(1) prevents the Aadhaar Act from falling under its scope.”
While 98% of the countrymen are being reported to have the Aadhaar identification as of now, in spite of successive petitions at the Supreme Court, the successive CJI’s have failed to constitute a seven membered bench to hear the hear the constitutional irregularity (not procedural) under the Article 212.
The legal window is wide open. The petition was filed by Former Union Minister, Jairam Ramesh. The Aadhaar Act can meet any of the following three fates: 
1. Mohd Saeed Siddiqui case, (State of UP) and Yogendra Kumar Jaiswal (State of Bihar) are two landmark decisions of the Supreme Court where SC  held  that  the  decision  of  the  Speaker  of the corresponding State Legislative  Assembly,  in  determining  a  bill  to  be  a  money  bill  could  not  be  judicially reviewed  and  that  the procedure  adopted  by  the  State  Legislature  was  beyond judicial review by virtue of Article 212(1). Hence, the case would fall null and void.
2. The Supreme Court brings the Jairam Ramesh case under 212(1) purview  citing gross constitutional irregularity. This might bring the government of the day under huge pressure to address take back the Act.
3. Congress which is totally against the Bill getting passed as Money Bill, might take it back, once it comes in the government.

How does the Aadhaar Act affect professionals?
Once linked with PAN card, the Aadhaar card would be a single source for ID checks, ITR details, Police records, and even employment history too.  Every agent who is in the business of verifying e-KYC forms (Know your Customers) will end up knowing more than they should, as the procedure would allow them to access the customer’s Aadhaar Id. And, interestingly, the new Aadhaar Act allows them to do so.  Devangshu Datta, Contributing Editor-Business Standard opined, “Given excellent facial recognition programmes and off-the-shelf image converters, a digital photo can be instantly converted and compared to databases of base-64 images.” He, thus, suspected, “Then such an agency will be able to trawl public pictures downloaded from wherever, and recognise random people and tie mugshots to Aadhaar data.” This way, the enrolling agencies will have much more information linking to an Aadhaar no. than even the UIDAI data base can ever have.
Such agencies which are found often trading data base for professional uses such as sales pitching etc. might misuse the same for a large range of activities. Hence the question is: passed under Money Bill, where will it land up in the absence of basic laws pertaining to people’s privacy and data protection?
On the other hand, the government never showed even an iota of sincerity while dealing such grave concerns. The Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said, “The arguments on so-called privacy and bodily intrusion are bogus."

What is the way forward?
If Aadhaar is the face identification no. of a person, every other information linked to the particular Aadhaar must have layered encryption where each layered data must have a higher/different secured encryption, and should be immune to agencies accessing Aadhaar info.  



This will not only separate and failsafe each and every layer from the other, but would also address the privacy concerns. On the other side, one must not amplify the privacy concerns, just for making some buzz in news space. For e.g., if we study in a foreign university, the institution collects every bit of data, right from the biometric data to Passport Id, Domicile, References, PAN and Police Records. We don’t mind sharing the information because of the trust we usually have over these institutions or even private companies like Apple, Google or Microsoft, Dropbox and so on. However, given the massive Aadhaar leaks intentionally done by the CSCs across, it’s hard to believe whatever the Gazette of India depicts under Aadhaar Act, 2016, at a time, when the Supreme Court is yet to decide the legality glitch of the Act.


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In Design Thinking The EDIT PAGE

The ‘Design’ Way of Thinking

Dezeen Web-Author Richard van der Laken, in his article “Design is more than perfume, aesthetics and trends” explained how design thinking could have played a crucial role in addressing the current growing refugee crisis. This took the methodology of design thinking to a whole new level, beyond the business of Google, Apple or GE, or the educational architecture of Stanford University and other institutions.

Perceiving the ‘Design’ Way

An amalgamation of both visual and scientific, design thinking is precisely a closed loop process that keeps evolving with users’ feedback, an ideal workflow-architecture enabling and enforcing designers and innovators to come up with better solutions every time. As shown in the figure, the methodology of design thinking is usually conceived through the below closed loop steps:



Once limited to the syllabi of engineering/design engineering, gradually, it became an inherent part of work-flow in business, education and other areas too. This is important, as disruptive innovations and designs are more-often driven by user experience. Todd Olson, an innovator, designer and columnist, while discussing the design genius of Apple and Google averred, “design innovation — not technological innovation — disrupts businesses and industries.” There was a time when Apple invested a major chunk of its capital on design thinking only, more than the profit, the company made.

Design thinking not only helps in bringing the best possible solutions to the table, but the methodology also helps redefine the marketing strategy. In one of my previous columns, I had explained the design thinking in Apple’s brand building. 

Before releasing the first iPhone, Steve had some 15 amazing models from which the actual iPhone was selected. Though Apple had applied all those designs for patents for the sake of just what their designers did, but unlike other companies, they did not bring all the models into the market. Quoting Jobs, "We don't give you the alternatives, we give you the best." It's because of this value Apple evoked an irresistible admiration and attention in the global market. Values are not created by product but by the way company moves forward. When new updated version of Mac computers was launched, there were more than 1200 old mac computers lying inside company's store. An HBS pass out lady, the then CFO decided to bring it at cheaper rates almost equal to the manufacturing cost which later also got the support of Board of Directors, but when came to Steve for his consent, he refused to sign....."It's not the way we work", commented Steve.” This explains how you re-emphasize the solutions post testing and implementation phase.

In Design Thinking, if there is any loop open, you might miss the parallel narrative of the entire architecture.
While we all are aware of the design saga of Google, GE, IBM, Apple, and other companies, let’s take an Einstein’s case, the genius and his mistake while processing design thinking.

Einstein emphasized the Universe, Newton’s gravitational law, and black holes, defined them through various laws, then ideated and presented the most famous theory – general theory of relativity.

In 1915, Albert Einstein published geometric theory of gravitation i.e. general theory of relativity, arguing that if two particles with some given constant velocities start moving towards the pole, the particles would meet irrespective of the distance in between. The argument was plain and simple that defied Newton’s law of motion, an observation and a basis for general theory of relativity. The entire theory was part and parcel of Einstein’s ‘way of thinking’ which Peter Rowe coined as ‘Design Thinking’ later. Einstein re-emphasized Newton’s laws of motion; defined its cones it at various situations, and since the laws failed at various situations, he introduced ‘General Theory of Relativity’. However, when his own theory suggested that the universe is expanding; he couldn’t test the same, and hence introduced a parameter, later lifted by Hawking.

Testing and Implementation helped Hawking emphasize and re-define the theory of relativity which Einstein couldn’t, in his lifetime.
Let’s take another case, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Centre developed world’s first ever mouse, yet the organisation was unable to present the same, as a solution to the society. Steve Jobs, a champion of design thinking used the prototype to build and present world’s first PC with GUI enabled OS. What Xerox couldn’t, Steve, a college dropout did was filling the bridge of ideation in design thinking.

In a nutshell, each every step of design thinking is closely interlinked, and doesn’t work in isolation.

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In NDTV The EDIT PAGE

The NDTV Saga, and Indian Journalism

 
In a world where simply the CBI raids label you a fraud man/org, I do subscribe to Arun Shourie’s perspective: “If you have done nothing wrong, take CBI and NIA raids as the rare opportunity to help authorities attest your honesty. Yes, I’m the only person so far, who has earned the certificate of ‘honesty’ from the CBI.” Having stated the same in their press releases, NDTV's promoters must extend their full co-operation to CBI, NIA & ED, and come clean, as there’s no alternative.

However, the recent CBI statements have enough loopholes. The Hoot Journo, Sevanti Ninan, therefore, justly deduced, “It seems odd for a government agency to be exercised about a $7.45-million loss from a private bank to NDTV."   

CBI in its statement, dated June 5, 2017 said, “The Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against two Promotors/Directors of a private company based at Delhi; said private company; other New Delhi based TV Company; unknown officials of ICICI Bank and unknown others u/s 120 B and 420 of IPC r/w 13(2) r/w 13(1)(d) of PC Act, 1988 on a complaint for causing an alleged loss of Rs.48 crore to ICICI Bank.

The criminal complaint very much talked about the alleged loss of Rs48 crore to ICICI bank. Responding to the same, NDTV uploaded a scanned copy of ICICI bank’s receipt, dated August 7, 2009 stating, “The entire amount due and payable has been paid in full.” NDTV also averred that the complaint has never held in courts and the person Sanjay Suri, a former consultant at NDTV has not been able to obtain a single order from any court.
The very next day, CBI came up with another statement and clarified “The searches have been carried out at the premises of the promoters and their offices based on search warrants issued by the Competent Court.”

If so, where are the docs regarding search warrants issued by Courts? The submission doesn’t have any. CBI has neither given the details of the Court’s judgement nor the dates on which it was issued.
Further, the CBI’s press release also clarified, “The allegations under investigation are not regarding the default in loan repayment; but relate to the wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore to the promoters – Dr. Prannoy Roy, Smt Radhika Roy, M/s RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd and a corresponding wrongful loss to the ICICI bank arising from their collusion and criminal conspiracy.”

This contradicts the very first copy of FIR, where subject 1 established an alleged loss of Rs48Cr. The press release shifted the focus to subject 2 of the FIR, “ICICI bank allegedly conniving, committing fraud and entering into a conspiracy with promoters od NDTV in facilitating transfer of ownership of a news Broadcasting co. (Licensed by MIB) to a khoka/Shell Company. All these acts committed being in violation of Banking Regulation Act, SEBI Act, MIB Regulations and MHA National Security Norms.”

Strangely, if that is the case, then why Reliance Ventures Limited, Shinano Retail Pvt Ltd and Vishwapradhan Commercial Pvt Ltd have not been chargesheeted for getting wrongful access to the ownership of a media company by extending Zero Coupon optionally convertible loan of worth Rs403.85Cr?
  
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When was the last time you saw some hard-hitting journalism practiced by any Indian Media org at large? It's rare, in bits and pieces.
The day, Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway coined the term alternate truth...Nytimes had its tagline ready -- Truth. It has no alternative. The Washington Post came up with -- Democracy dies in darkness. While Trump is their current president, Megyn Kelly, an American Journo-NBC goes to Saint Petersburg, Russia asks Putin, "We believe you've evidences against our President."

Nobody questions the journalist's nationalism, but reacts over the response. Imagine, an Indian journalist asking the same question to Pakistan's PM! How would we react? What space have we given to our Journalists to let them pursue what they believe in, without tagging them?
According to Press Freedom Index, we are as free as dead, and so are journalists. India's Journalism died, or say, withered up long ago, owing to a) the unavailability of the means of white money essential to keep pumping up some blood in their veins, and b) the government acting like the big brother.

What we're left with narrations/versions, with little access to the minutes of the events -- even if, they are --- living under the new unknown 'HIVE-Grant Ward's effect' people happily refuse to believe so, as if, they have lost the ability to filter facts from a bunch of narrations. No wonder, a large no. of people still believe that it was Arnab who broke 2G/3G/CWG scams.
I don't see any late hard-hitting journalism happening compared to Arun Shourie's works against Reliance/Rajeev gov @IndianExpress and @ChitraSubramanium works on Bofors The Hindu.
The few, still playing to the gallery of reportage are not the MSMs, but webdailies -- Newslaundry, TheNewsMinute, The Hoot, TheWire.in and so on.
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One of my friend complained back, "They write anti-gov, anti-army articles too."
Huh. Why do you want to be a fan boy, when you can be a free thinker and a patriot, simultaneously?
As per the Constitution, People of India/India come first, the Army and Government come later. 

This is important, as we, as public go GaGa over a Jawan's death at the border, but remain silent over the farmers' suicide, their strike showing their parents' skull hanging on their bare chests, telling stories of generations. Be it, Army or Farmers both need our support, but the question is who need most?
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