Citizens against UID

PUCL has endorsed the Citizen’s Statement on UID

We, representatives of people’ movements, mass organizations, institutions and concerned individuals including all the undersigned strongly oppose the potential tracking and profiling based techno-governance tools such as the Unique Identification number (UID) by the Government of India and the manner in which legitimate democratic processes have been undermined through this.

The proposed UID project seems to be perched on an anti-people perspective and violates a number of basic rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India including Articles 14, 15, 17, 19 and 21 viz., the Rights to equality, dignity, privacy, expression and the right not to be discriminated against, The project seems to be aimed at profiling people by pooling in biometric and retinal data pertaining to an individual and could be potentially discriminatory in a country where caste identity is the most predominant socio-political marker. Further, it is a travesty on the dignity and privacy of individuals. At another level, given the fact that more than one third of our population live below the substantial level called “poverty line” and without literacy & numeracy, a large section of our population would find itself unable to handle this number in a meaningful way and thus face the danger of virtually stripped of their citizenship and thereby the very legitimacy of their existence on the land of this country.

This project which has been launched at a budgeted cost of INR 1900 Crores for the year 2010-2011 in a country where the Government has officially declared that 400 million of its citizens are living below poverty line is , thus an insult to the dignity of the Peoples of India. The project headed by a person of the rank of the Union Cabinet Minister, whose appointment was not transparent and a staff overhead of more than 100 is also working under the most non-transparent processes and we fear that the decisions are made and influenced by vested private and corporate interests who have had a record of anti-people and anti-democratic activities. There is no wide public discussion on the feasibility or desirability of the project.

It is in this context that we have serious objections to the way the decadal census process is being used to pitch the UID process and no discussion on this has happened in any of the democratic forums including the Parliament, which also transgresses n the right to dignity and privacy of individuals and their choice to opt out of the UID process. If the UID continues to be tagged with the Census process – we would also consider boycotting the same. It is a matter of great concern that the powers that be have deliberately kept silent on the inter linkage between the UID and current mode of census

In this situation it is not clear which decisions are being made by the private sector or by the elected representatives. There are proposals within this project that will result in changes to the PDS, food subsidy, MGNREGS etc are being put forward by the Planning commission and UIDAI. They suggest that instead of food grains, cash subsidies must be given to beneficiaries which can be encashed at public or private sector shops.

In the past the changes in policy were achieved through influence and lobbying, but now entrepreneurs have been appointed as non-politicians with cabinet rank. While the project was hailed as a “gamechanger” and a welfare measure, the public at large have expressed growing concerns about the UID and its implications for ordinary citizens. Many questions are being raised about the nature, status and aims of the scheme. Countries such as the UK, Australia and the USA have found similar measures unworkable due to the serious probability of abuse and the strong opposition of the public. There is a huge expenditure proposed for the UID. The UID would affect every citizen. We as groups and individuals feel the need to engage the larger public in an open discussion about the UID and its proposed scope, implementation, benefits and risks. We are also mobilising public opinion on issues and concerns about the UID.
We the undersigned demand that

  • the UID project be scrapped with immediate effect
  • all the transactions undertaken by the UIDAI project be scrutinized by an accountable public body from the democratic governance structure in a transparent manner taking into consideration the concerns of the all the peoples before venturing into the implementation stage
  • the financial and technological implications and the costs incurred so far, including details of contracts entered into with respect to the UID project be made transparent
  • the Census and UID project be forthwith de-linked

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