I am sure the title of the post sounds breathless and alarmist to a few, but based on what I have written in the last two posts, no reasonable person can help thinking on these lines. The proponents of the UID project could probably fall over each other to correct me and say-
“The UID is not about vesting or recognizing citizenship! It is about creating a database of residents! So where is the question of legitimizing illegal immigration?“
My response to these enlightened souls would be-
“The UID is not just about compiling the identity details from existing identification documents. It goes a step further to create identity for those who have no documentary proof of their existence. Recognizing residency is the first step towards officially legitimizing the stay of illegal immigrants. The UID gives illegal immigrants a chance to create a new identity for themselves. No illegal immigrant is concerned about citizenship as long as his stay in this country is recognized and he has access to the country’s resources and the Government’s schemes!”
Do I have a concrete basis for holding the view that the UID project aids in legitimizing illegal immigration? I’d invite the proponents of the UID to read the gem that is the “Introducer System” (Refer to Para 3.5 on Page 16 of the hyperlinked document).
Under this system, a network of “approved introducers” introduces a person who has no documents to prove his residence. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the official-sounding shallow document of the UIDAI called the “Demographic Data Standards and Verification procedure (DDSVP) Committee Report”:
“In the UID registration process, registration is proposed to be done through various registrars like the Banks, Insurance Companies, Central and State Government Departments. In each of these institutions, the introducer concept will work like a “tree structure” where one introducer may introduce more than one person. However, someone needs be the first introducer and be the “root” of this tree. The person at the root will be the person who will be “self-introduced”. In other words, that person will be initially registered without any introducer. He will then introduce and get a number of persons registered. This process will then continue.
As an example, in a registration process where State’s Rural Development Department is the registrar and NREGA is the scheme whose beneficiaries are being registered. In this process, the District Magistrate (or the Deputy Commissioner) can “self-introduce” and become the root of the introducer tree. He/She will introduce his/her BDOs and the Block Panchayat heads (known as Block Pramukhs in some states) who implement NREGA. Each of these BDOs and Block Pramukhs can introduce other people at the Panchayat level like the Panchayat Sewaks, Pradhans/Mukhias (elected Panchayat Head), and ward members (in a village Panchayat). Generally, the last category will reach down to the village level. However, in order to ensure that the enrolment process is not hampered by the lack of approved introducers at the ground level, each registrar should have the freedom to decide on the issue of approved introducers so as to ensure that there are people at the ground level who are able to introduce the people who want to enroll in the UID system.”
Notice the latitude and discretion that executive authorities have in identifying/approving Introducers. This is yet another classic instance of excessive delegation with immense potential for abuse and misuse.
Has the UIDAI prescribed guidelines to these cerebral registrars on selecting Introducers? Of course yes. Let’s take a look at these so-called guidelines:
The list of approved introducers should go down till the village/customer level so that the process of registration is not hampered due to lack of introducers.
The registrars need not keep the hierarchy of approved introducers limited to their own department/organization. As an example, in NREGA, there are a number of NGOs involved in NREGA social audit and the registrars could make some of the representatives of these NGOs who work at the village level as the approved introducers. Similarly, the village teachers and postman could also be incorporated as approved introducers by state Governments if required.
At the ground level, residents should have access to multiple introducers so as to avoid harassment by a single introducer.
Introducer list should include credible organizations which have traditionally been advocates of vulnerable communities to make sure goal of inclusion is truly achieved.
I ask myself these few basic questions- So which are these “vulnerable communities” that the guidelines refer to? Is identity creation being used as a pretext by the Congress to undertake a nation-wide exercise to create a new vote bank? Once identities have been created for illegal immigrants using the UID, how difficult is it to make the UID card an acceptable document for registration of voters?…
It really doesn’t take the genius of a Sheldon Cooper to know what’s brewing in the name of UID.
What is truly shocking is that despite such grave dangers which were pointed out in no uncertain terms by the Parliamentary Standing Committee chaired by Shri Yashwant Sinha, the UID is not only spreading its tentacles all over the country, it is slowly being pushed as a mandatory requirement. This is a vastly different position from the initial tune of the Aadhaar card being “voluntary”. Following were the observations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the nexus between the UID and illegal immigration:
“2. The Committee are surprised that while the country is on one hand facing a serious problem of illegal immigrants and infiltration from across the borders, the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 proposes to entitle every resident to obtain an aadhaar number, apart from entitling such other category of individuals as may be notified from time to time. This will, they apprehend, make even illegal immigrants entitled for an aadhaar number. The Committee are unable to understand the rationale of expanding the scheme to persons who are not citizens, as this entails numerous benefits proposed by the Government. The Committee have received a number of suggestions for restricting the scope of the UID scheme only to the citizens and for considering better options available with the Government by issuing Multi-Purpose National Identity Cards (MNICs) as a more acceptable alternative.”
Before the usual culprits from the left-lib clique accuse people like me of xenophobia, let me clarify that I am not advocating that India should follow a closed door policy and shut its borders. After all, when Indians expect to be welcomed with open arms on both sides of the Atlantic, it makes no sense to say that we must not let others in. That said, let’s not be naive enough to close our eyes to the grave national security challenges that unchecked illegal immigration brings along with it, something that I had alluded to in my first post on CRI titled “Kautilyan Thoughts“.
There are several other problems, including severe technological ones, which plague the UID project that I have not touched upon, but for me the biggest problem is the opaque and surreptitious manner in which the Congress government has been pushing the project aggressively, with double-speak characterising its stance even before Courts. So once again I ask this question: If the Congress government has nothing to hide and the UID project is truly an altruistic one, why does it lack the spine and conviction to debate and legislate in accordance with the law?
Given the manifest public interest involved here, and its implications for the integrity of the nation, we request the enlightened readers of CRI to actively let us know their views on the UID project.