Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Aadhar/UID: The Myths behind the National Identity Project

Col (Retd) Mathew Thomas happens to be one of the many crusaders who are trying to bust the myths surrounding the Adhar/UID. As per Col Thomas and the many anti-UID activists, UID number is highly invasive and raises serious concern regarding the critical personal and biometric information. What Adhar does is ask for one of the 14 identities recognized by the Government of India and an address proof and issues a number against those proofs of identity. UID number or fingerprints or irises do not identify the person like the passport does, until the person handling the database vouches for your identity. The government's tall claims of arresting leakage of subsidies also falls flat since the government has conducted no studies on how the leakage has happened.

As opposed to the government's promises of issuing cylinders against a UID number, and directing subsidies to lower income groups, the cylinders are being distributed to the public sector against the UID numbers of citizens. The exemption given to commercial consumers was not accounted for. Also the need for UID for the transfer of subsidy to bank account is ridiculous. Only the bank account number is needed to transfer the subsidies as against the popular notion of a UID number. The money doled out for the project is a waste as biometrics is a probablistic answer. It is difficult to capture the traits of a human in real time. The quality of fingerprints may be poor in elderly people and those who do manual labour. Also for people with visual impairment like retinopathy or glucoma etc. iris prints may not be as perfect as for those with empirically average eye sight. Then how can biometrics be considered a full proof method of identifying a person. More so, Adhar doesn't recognize the migrants or the mobility of population that moves around in search of livelihood. Thus UID in no way grants citizenship to the citizens of India. It is also being issued to foreign nationals and illegal immigrants putting the national security at stake. Justice Puttaswamy filed a PIL against the UID seeking its conversion to a citizenship card like in USA to weed out illegal immigrants. Moreover no parliamentary approval on UIDAI was sought. The bill rejected by a 30 member panel was bulldozed by an Executive order. 

Similar PIL's have been filed by Citizens forum for Civil Liberties and The Beghar Mazdoor foundation, an NGO working for the upliftment of the poor. Aadhar is therefore violating the right to privacy and dignity which forms part of Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. How then can this national identity project be deemed rightfully constitutional and in lieu of the laws laid down to guard the citizens of the country? The project therefore be halted to conduct: A feasibility study to cover all the aspects of the project, with the main focus on the workability. Experts must be asked to verify its constitutional significance. The law on privacy should be urgently worked on to protect the rights of the citizens. A cost benefit analysis of the project should be conducted while giving an account of the costs incurred. A public, informed debate be conducted through newpapers,television, neighbourhood meets etc before any such major change is brought in.

Friday, February 21, 2014

20 th February 2014

Some days like these amuse me and makes me ponder over the realities of life.
I usually abstain from junk food laden with too many calories which gets processed using unhealthy methods and may harm us in the long run. To spend two hundred or three hundred plus ruppees on a coffee is banefully atrocious when more than half of the world isn't able to afford two square meals in a day. Let's call it human fallibility, the once in a while luxurious levitation towards an expensive coffee laced with chocolate or swimming in dollops of ice cream, or a burger dripping in cheese. While travelling I prefer to eat junk rather than wake myself up in the wee hours of a morning and dish out a healthy tiffin. That is the harsh reality of a metro life. At this time I am in the midst of a sea of human life, sipping on costly coffee or a drink of some kind whipped with calories. It will definitely not be 'adrak wali chai' or 'filter coffee' so I expect a variant of latte or cappucino, seated on the top of most of the tables. The presentation of the research proposal opened my eyes, and I know why brain-drain is a reality and shall stay so until the government doesn't decide to mend its ways. And as always my parents run after me with their hammer and tongs to get me married. To not domesticate my ambitions is the greatest dowry I am paying to the church patriarchs and the people for whom a woman is a social artefact, worth only her womb. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Adhar: A Flagship Programme or an Unaccounted Scam?

Our maid lost her Aadhar card the other day and she was petrified, shedding the last drop of her sweat in fear. Since she is poor this card entitled her to subsidies which people like her are in dire need of, to live through the curse of poverty. She asked us for a day's leave which obviously we didn't refuse. What is interesting was the next day's conversation. Since her husband is uneducated just like her, they were accompanied by their fourteen year old son to the nearest Adhar office. They got the duplicate cards by providing the demographic information that was necessary. Now why this hurry was my question?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

8th February 2014

I happened to discover a new feature on facebook after seven years of using it. It was like pulling out a rabbit from the hat.
I am talking of the 'other messages' folder which isn't available to you on the facebook android app, and only if you browse facebook using chrome or opera. It was startling to lay my sight on it after seven years of being a facebook user. Which leads me to the conclusion that there are many features on social networking sites, that lay buried like the undiscovered islands under the ocean. Once when you know of them, you are thrown in for a surprise and many like me even end up writing a blog post on it.
The option to view this folder exists at the bottom of the page of the messages folder. Messages from people whom you have not befriended on facebook and from pages that hold your interest are carefully coiled in this folder.
While many of the messages I had recieved were cheesy friendship requests from people smitten by my bio and picture, many more were conversations I regret having given a miss. A few were e-mails seeking submissions while many more were event invitations that never caught my eye, all thanks to my ignorance. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Family Matters by Various Authors

Title: Family Matters: An International Anthology
Author : Various Authors
Publisher : Nivasini Publishers
Genre : Poetry and Prose
Number of Pages : 192

It has always been a tough call to review anthologies, because the space has everything under the sun and you can take some of the words it offers and leave the rest. This book gave a page or two to many talented writers and many more who show promise and should be willing to chisel their craft. 

Geoff Goodfellow is a poet who delves into details. Loved his poem 'In my mind forever' where he beautifully describes his first rendezvous with his daughter. Anand Madhukar is good with the pen but when writing poetry stringent structure could be of great help to him.The poem 'Womb' by Jerrold Yam reminded me of siblinghood and the relationship I share with my brother.
Susan Fealy's poem is an emotional account of a mother's love for her son. 'A tribute to my Father' by Christina Cowling struck a chord with me. Pretty imagery like 'shoes of suffering' make the poem a reader's delight.
Stephen Gill's 'A prayer for children' is a wonderful prayer for the children of the world and metaphors like muddy pellets of abuse, coin of deep human concern are clever.
I remember sharing space with Shigufta in the Aquillrelle May 2011 journal as the Poet of the month. 'Ancedotes' reminded me of my old neighbourhood and old neighbour. 'The Pallu of my mother's sari' is a beautiful tale of the Indian mother and the ends of her sari that act as her third limb. Carolyne Van Der Meer's renidition of the 'modern family time' tugs at your heart. Frank Joussen's poem Excavation Dream made me think of my ancestral family grave. Carol Faber's 'A Child Asks' is an innocent poem that takes you back to your childhood. Fathima E.V paints an Indian wedding with her visionary sight.Her vocabulary is strong. 'Family Bond' has interesting metaphors like tortoises and swords,although the composition can be tightened. Caroline Ilica's translators have done an awesome job in translating her poems. Lyn Vellins 'Earthbound' is a rustic poem that showers fatherhood with the kind of respect that mothers are often bestowed with. The poem is a rare metaphor. Thursday Night Shopping by Lyn Vellins tells us of the values we must not instill in our children. Miachel Farry's 'Grandmother' is like a fresh soft breeze while The First Grandson is a rustic poem. Chiara Gamboz's 'Home' is a neat poetic prose that reminded me of my ancestral house. Brian Wixon's poetry has Godly blissfulness to it. Maie joy Sau Buenaventura's poem 'Grandmother's God' talks intelligently of symbolism in religion. My Lodestar didn't manage to tug at my heart. Joe Kriss's poem uses exquisite imagery like 'weak as a whisper'. Familial Ties by Shloka Shankar is a take on the warring modern families in India. Sunita Prasad's poems are full of love although she can string imagery and adopt a tighter structure omitting the many connectors she uses. Ammama by Nivedita is a soulful poem with bright colors while that with Everette Jr makes you to contemplate.
Anu Cowalgi needs to indict imagery into her poems while Girish Kute's poem needs to be trimmed of the loose edges. Gulzar's poem translated by Pavan K Verma is a intelligent metaphor on relationships.