Friday, October 22, 2010

Video of the event "Campaign-No to UID" held on Oct 16, 2010 at ISI, New Delhi

This video can be used by our Hindi-speaking countrymen who are the real target of UID and whose lives are in danger because of UID. The government is selling their death warrants in such sugar-coated capsules that they wont even notice that they have sold their freedom and lives to the whims and fancies of the corrupt leaders. Please use this video and spread the message to each and every Indian.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unknown aspects of UID-the most ambitious project of UPA Govt

UID, the most ambitious project of UPA government to convert every Indian to a 12 digits number, has been the concern of almost every Indian for reasons, good and bad. Before the project gets judged on merit, it is most important to know that the execution of project is unconstitutional as it does not have the legislative sanction. The parliament never debated on the project as it was never brought before the parliament to seek approval for the same. Stealthily it is being executed, in a complete undemocratic way. First time I got interested in knowing more about the project when a close friend Ram Krishnaswamy, an alumnus of IITM, shared with me few articles on UID, opposing the same which in absence of the correct information was an excellent thing as per my superficial understanding. When I read about it and the background in which it has been brought into execution and how hastily it is being rolled out in absence of a legislative sanction, I was horrified on the possible repercussions of this exercise. On 16.10.2010, I was invited to an event held at ISI, Lodhi Road, New Delhi to speak on techno-legal aspects of UID, there I learnt many new things from the fellow speakers. Following this, Mr. Rajesh Joshi- a journalist working with BBC Hindi approached to do a show radio show on the issue and having learnt many new things about UID, which made me believe stronger than ever that UID is a product of some big conspiracy between Govt and Corporations, I gave my consent to be on the program. Had to grapple in finding correct Hindi words substitutes but the program went well. Callers in the program were from places as remote as Madhepura in Bihar. It was horrifying to see that the whole country has been kept in dark and the government has made false promises to the nation that the UID number will solve the myriad of problems our fellow countrymen in rural India faces everyday. The entire program is presented below for your perusal. The original program is at

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An information of immense utility: The days when famous markets in Delhi observe an off.

Recently, for reasons :-), for the first time in my life lived so far, I have been happy to go for shopping, though I have no sense of color or style and in fact I have been termed color blind by the loved ones. They fail to appreciate that by design I can't wear anything but black and white, in fact the day I moved to law the first thing I was happy about was not to waste any more time in order to chose the dress for the day. Even on occasions, I preferred wearing white and black but that won't do any longer, I have been clearly told. Hence my hunt for markets. First thing I had to consult the shopaholics to assess the market and what to buy from where and then was my sudden visits to those markets. One thing which came very handy was to know the days when specific markets observe their weekly off and I am sure that this information, mentioned below, will be of immense use/help to people like me who are not regular to these places and visit them for special occasions.

  1. Gaffar Market (karol Bagh )Closed on Monday
  2. Sarojini Nagar Closed on Monday
  3. South Extension Closed on Monday
  4. Chandni Chowk Closed on Sunday
  5. Daryaganj Closed on Sunday
  6. Sadar Bazar Closed on Sunday
  7. Lajpat Nagar Bhoghal Jungpura Closed on Monday
  8. Connaught Place Closed on Sunday

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A strange keyboard error which had such a simple fix but......

There are times when simple things are really simple. My Laptop X61 went bad and hence had to be sent for repair to IBM. They wanted a Demand Draft of INR 1665/- just to examine what went wrong. And it took them more than a week to tell me that its motherboard needs a replacement. I was so disappointed to hear this from IBM, not because it was going to drill a hole in my pocket but because it took IBM more than 7 days to tell me what I was aware of on day one. And in fact that was THE SOLUTION but IBM was supposed to delve deeper and tell me more precise solution viz. the chip below the second fan has gone wrong which was the actual diagnosis which they did after I wrote a really nasty email. Anyway, that's IBM.
In absence of my lifeline I got struck, lost many hours and then decided to revive my old Toshiba 17 inches monster P25-S5092. Somehow I have always been in favor of Linux, maybe because it gives me the freedom of modifying the kernel to give the OS a form of my liking and hence this monster was loaded with Linux. I had no way but to order (because I did not want to corrupt the beautifully modified Linux, Ubuntu to be precise) a new high capacity HDD and then get hold of a Windows XP. Everything went fine but on start the keyboard gave me a real tough time, other than alphabets all other keys were not in sync with my keyboard, e.g. @ and " had got interchanged. Tried hard, consulted some experts but no one could be of any help. Someone cursed Microsoft and advised me to switch over to Linux but he was not aware that Legal Software which are lifeline of my profession are not Linux-compatible and to make them run on Linux is too difficult a task like I have to wrap dlls to make them run in Linux which is also always successful anyway. As I usually say one has to die to go to heaven, I had to die and look for a solution myself, for these many hours I would have charged a client a huge sum.:-) 
Finally realized that it have something to do with keyboard type and this realization took me to Regional an Language Options available in Control Panel of Windows XP. There was my solution, I had to change the keyboard type from UK to USA and everything became normal. This brought an interesting question to may mind, why can't be have all English Keyboards of the world alike. But probably that won't be possible. Any guess, why?? 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The ambitious project of Govt of India to reduce every Indian to a number.

Nandan Nilekani of Infosys, also an IITian, is the man who will get a place in the history of India for him heading the mission of the government of India to reduce every Indian to just a number and as claimed all problems of this great country which has people like Kalmadi will disappear within no time. Nandan seems to be kidding or he has just got trapped in it, after all he enjoys the rank of a cabinet minister. When countries like USA, UK and Australia have decided to abandon all such projects in their country for the reasons of it being expensive and too intrusive in nature, India with a population, 50 times of that of Australia, has started afresh on the plan of reducing Individuals to numbers. Wastage of tax payers' money probably has become the rule than exception, examples are RTE, CWG and UID. In none of these projects, the Govt had taken any caution of the kind of a feasibility study or a cost-benefit analysis to ensure the proper utilization of the tax payers' money. Recently a press conference was called upon by who's who of the Indian Intellectual Society and the following was issued by them supposedly as a press release, I am sure that many of these names you might have already been familiar with.

Here goes the release for your perusal and if you find your views in alignment then do take pain of writing directly to PM and UPA Chairperson to communicate your views because it is still not too late to halt the project and revisit the whole project and abandon the same if needed.
The project that proposes to give every resident a `unique identity number’ is a matter of great concern for those working on issues of food security, NREGA, migration, technology, decentralisation, constitutionalism, civil liberties and human rights. The process of setting up the Authority has resulted in very little, if any, discussion about this project and its effects and fallout. The documents on the UIDAI website, and a recent draft law (the National Identification Authority Bill, which is also on the website) do not provide answers to the many questions that are being raised in the public domain. This project is intended to collect demographic data about all residents in the country. It is said that it will impact on the PDS and NREGA programmes, and plug leakages and save the government large sums of money. It would, however, seem that even basic procedures have not been followed before launching on such a massive project.

Before it goes any further, we consider it imperative that the following be done:
• Do a feasibility study: There are claims made in relation to the project, about what it can do for PDS and NREGA, for instance, which does not reflect any understanding of the situation of the situation on the ground. The project documents do not say what other effects the project may have, including its potential to be intrusive and violative of privacy, who may handle the data (there will be multiple persons involved in entering, maintaining and using the data), who may be able to have access to the data and similar other questions.
• Do a cost:benefit analysis: It is reported that the UIDAI estimates the project will costs Rs 45,000 crores to the exchequer in the next 4 years. This does not seem to include the costs that will be incurred by Registrars, Enrollers, internal systems costs that the PDs system will have to budget if it is to be able to use the UID, the estimated cost to the end user and to the number holder.
• In a system such as this, a mere statement that the UIDAI will deal with the security of the data is obviously insufficient. How does the UIDAI propose to deal with data theft? If this security cannot be reasonably guaranteed, the wisdom of holding such data in a central registry may need to be reviewed.
• The involvement of firms such as Ernst & Young and Accenture raise further questions about who will have access to the data, and what that means to the people of India.
• Constitutionality of this project, including in the matter of privacy, the relationship between the state and the people, security and other fundamental rights.
Questions have been raised which have not been addressed so far, including those about – 
• Undemocratic process: UIDAI was set-up via a GoI notification as an attached office of the Planning Commission without any discussion or debate in the Parliament or civil society. In the year and a half of its inception, the Authority has signed MoUs with virtually all states and UTs, LIC, Petroleum Ministry and many banks. In July, the Authority circulated the draft NIA Bill (to achieve statutory status); the window for public feedback was two weeks. Despite widespread feedback and calls for making all feedback public, the Authority has not made feedback available. Further in direct contravention to the process of public feedback, the NIA Bill was listed for introduction in the Lok Sabha 2010 monsoon session
• Privacy (It is only now that the DoPT is said to be working on a draft of a privacy law, but nothing is out for discussion even yet)
• Surveillance: where this technology, and the existence of the UID number, and its working, could result in increasing the potential for surveillance
• Profiling
• Tracking
• Convergence, by which those with access to state power, as well as companies, could collate information about each individual with the help of the UID number.
National IDs have been abandoned in the US, Australia and the newly-elected British government. The reasons have predominantly been: costs and privacy. If it is too expensive for the US with a population of 308 million, and the UK with 61 million people, and Australia with 21 million people, it is being asked why India thinks it can prioritise its spending in this direction. In the UK, the Home Secretary explained that they were abandoning the project because it would otherwise be `intrusive bullying’ by the state, and that the government intended to be the `servant’ of the people, and not their `master’. Is there a lesson in it for us? In the late nineties, the Supreme Court of Philippines struck down the President’s Executive Order A.O 308 which instituted a biometric based national ID system calling it unconstitutional on two grounds – the overreach of the executive over the legislative powers of the congress and invasion of privacy. The same is applicable in India – UIDAI has been constituted on the basis of a GoI notification and there is a fundamental risk to civil liberties with the convergence of UID, NATGRID etc.
The UIDAI is still at the stage of conducting pilot studies. The biometric pilot study has reportedly already thrown up problems especially among the poor whose fingerprints are not stable, and whose iris scans suffer from malnourishment related cataract and among whom the incidence of corneal scars is often found. The project is clearly still in its inception. The project should be halted before it goes any further and the prelude to the project be attended to, the public informed and consulted, and the wisdom of the project determined. The Draft Bill too needs to be publicly debated. This is a project that could change the status of the people in this country, with effects on our security and constitutional rights, and a consideration of all aspects of the project should be undertaken with this in mind.

We, therefore, ask that:
• The project be halted 
• A feasibility study be done covering all aspects of this issue
• Experts be tasked with studying its constitutionality
• The law on privacy be urgently worked on (this will affect matters way beyond the UID project)
• A cost : benefit analysis be done
• A public, informed debate be conducted before any such major change be brought in.

List of signatories of a statement on the UID
Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India
Prof Romila Thapar, Historian
K.G.Kannabiran, Senior Civil Liberties Lawyer
Kavita Srivastava, PUCL and Right to Food Campaign
Aruna Roy, MKKS, Rajasthan
Nikhil Dey, MKKS, Rajasthan
S.R.Sankaran, Retired Secretary, Government of India
Deep Joshi, Independent Consultant
Upendra Baxi, Jurist and ex-Vice Chancellor of Universities of Surat and Delhi
Uma Chakravarthi, Historian
Shohini Ghosh, Teacher and Film Maker
Amar Kanwar, Film Maker
Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karamchari Andolan
Trilochan Sastry, IIMB, and Association for Democratic Reforms
Prof. Jagdish Chhokar, ex- IIMA, and Association for Democratic Rights
Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD
Justice A.P.Shah, Retired Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi