The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) recently summoned the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to investigate a number of issues concerning the issuance of Aadhaar cards.
The findings are part of the country’s independent auditor’s first performance review of UIDAI, which was conducted over a four-year period between FY2015 and FY2019.
Statutory Authority: The UIDAI is a statutory authority established by the Government of India on July 12, 2016, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, in accordance with the provisions of the Aadhaar Act 2016.
The UIDAI was established as an attached office under the auspices of the Planning Commission by the Government of India in January 2009.
Mandate: The UIDAI is responsible for assigning a 12-digit unique identification (UID) number (Aadhaar) to all Indian residents.
UIDAI had issued 131.68 crore Aadhaar numbers as of October 31, 2021.
UIDAI has not prescribed any specific proof/document or process for confirming whether an applicant has resided in India for the specified period, and instead relies on the applicant’s casual self-declaration to confirm the applicant’s residential status.
Furthermore, there was no system in place to verify the applicant’s affirmations.
In India, Aadhaar numbers are only issued to people who have lived in the country for at least 182 days in the 12 months preceding the date of application.
According to the CAG report, the UIDAI had to cancel over 4,75,000 Aadhaars (as of November 2019) because they were “duplicate.”
According to this data, no less than 145 Aadhaars generated in a day on average during the nine years since 2010 were duplicate numbers that needed to be cancelled.
The Aadhaar system’s purpose is to be unique, which means that no individual can obtain two Aadhaar numbers, and that a specific person’s biometrics cannot be used to obtain Aadhaar numbers for different people.
It appeared that UIDAI charged people for biometric updates when low-quality data was provided during enrolment.
UIDAI did not accept responsibility for poor quality biometrics, instead blaming the resident and charging fees for it.
All Aadhaar numbers stored in the UIDAI database were not supported by documents containing the resident’s demographic information.
It “raised concerns about the accuracy and completeness of resident data collected and stored by UIDAI prior to 2016.”
The audit also criticised UIDAI’s decision to issue Aadhaar cards to children and newborns without biometrics as part of the Bal Aadhaar initiative.
This should be reconsidered because, after 5 years, a child must apply for a new regular Aadhar card. The unique identity is not matched in any case because it is issued based on parental documents.
In addition to violating statutory provisions, the UIDAI has incurred avoidable expenditure of Rs 310 crore on the issue of Bal Aadhaars through March 31, 2019.
A further sum of Rs 288.11 crore was released to states/schools in Phase II of ICT assistance up to the year 2020-21, primarily for the issuance of Aadhaar cards to minor children.
Prescribe a Procedure for Self Declaration: In accordance with the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, UIDAI may prescribe a procedure and required documentation other than self-declaration in order to confirm and authenticate applicants’ residence status.
Tighten the Service Level Agreement (SLA) parameters of Biometric Service Providers (BSPs): UIDAI may tighten the SLA parameters of Biometric Service Providers (BSPs), devise foolproof mechanisms for capturing unique biometric data, and improve their monitoring systems to proactively identify and take action to minimise multiple/duplicate Aadhaar numbers generated.
UIDAI may investigate alternative methods of capturing uniqueness of biometric identity for minor children under the age of five, as uniqueness of identity is the most distinguishing feature of Aadhaar established through biometrics of the individual.
Proactive Steps to Identify and Fill the Missing Documents: In order to avoid any legal complications or inconvenience to holders of Aadhaar issued prior to 2016, UIDAI may take proactive steps to identify and fill the missing documents in their database as soon as possible.
UIDAI may reconsider charging fees for voluntary updates of residents’ biometrics because they (UIDAI) were unable to identify reasons for biometric failures and residents were not at fault for poor quality biometric capture.
Before onboarding the entities (Requesting Entities and Authentication Service Agencies) in the Aadhaar ecosystem, UIDAI may conduct thorough verification of the documents, infrastructure, and technological support claimed to be available.
Create a Suitable Data Archival Policy: UIDAI may create a suitable data archival policy to mitigate the risk of data protection vulnerability and reduce saturation of valuable data space due to redundant and unwanted data by weeding out unwanted data on a continuous basis.
The Supreme Court will hear a pending petition challenging the 2018 Electoral Bond Scheme.
Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) — Common Cause and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) — have criticised the scheme, claiming that it “distorts democracy.”
These bonds are issued in denominations of Rs. 1,000, Rs. 10,000, Rs. 1 lakh, Rs. 10 lakh, and Rs. 1 crore, with no upper limit.
The State Bank of India is authorised to issue and redeem these bonds, which have a fifteen-day validity period from the date of issuance.
These bonds can only be redeemed in a registered political party’s designated account.
The bonds are available for purchase by any Indian citizen for ten days in each of the months of January, April, July, and October, as specified by the Central Government.
A person, as an individual, can purchase bonds either alone or in collaboration with other people.
The bond does not include the donor’s name.
Donors who contribute less than Rs. 20,000 to political parties through the purchase of electoral bonds are not required to provide personal information such as their PAN.
The primary goal of the electoral bonds scheme was to increase transparency in electoral funding in India.
The scheme was described by the government as a “electoral reform” in a country transitioning to a “cashless-digital economy.”
Contradicting its Basic Idea: The central criticism of the electoral bonds scheme is that it accomplishes the polar opposite of what it was intended to accomplish: it brings transparency to election funding.
Critics, for example, argue that the anonymity of electoral bonds applies only to the general public and opposition parties.
The fact that such bonds are sold through a government-owned bank (SBI) allows the government to learn who is funding its opponents.
This, in turn, allows the government of the day to either extort money, particularly from large corporations, or victimise them for not funding the ruling party — either way, providing an unfair advantage to the party in power.
The Union government has exempted political parties from disclosing donations received through electoral bonds through an amendment to the Finance Act 2017.
This means that voters will have no idea who, what company, or organisation has funded which party and how much.
In a representative democracy, however, citizens vote for the people who will represent them in Parliament.
Compromise on the Right to Know: The Indian Supreme Court has long held that the “right to know,” particularly in the context of elections, is an integral part of the Indian Constitution’s right to freedom of expression (Article 19).
Against Free and Fair Elections: Electoral bonds provide no information to citizens.
The aforementioned anonymity does not apply to the current government, which can always obtain donor information by requesting it from the State Bank of India (SBI).
This implies that the ruling government can use this information to sabotage free and fair elections.
Crony Capitalism: The electoral bonds scheme eliminates all pre-existing limits on political donations, effectively allowing well-funded corporations to fund elections, paving the way for crony capitalism.
Crony Capitalism: An economic system distinguished by close, mutually beneficial relationships between business leaders and government officials.
There is a need for effective political financing regulation, as well as bold reforms, to break the vicious cycle of corruption and deterioration of democratic polity quality.
It is critical to close the gaps in current legislation in order to make the entire governance apparatus more accountable and transparent.
Voters can also help bring about significant changes by requesting public awareness campaigns. Democracy would advance a step if voters rejected candidates and parties that overspend or bribe them.
The Ministry of Defence recently released the third positive indigenisation list of 101 items, which included major equipment/platforms.
In August 2020, the ‘First Negative Indigenisation’ List of 101 items was notified.
The Second Indigenisation list for 108 items was notified in the June 2021 import list.
It includes highly complex systems, sensors, weapons, and ammunition such as Light Weight Tanks, Mounted Arty Gun Systems, Next Generation Offshore Patrol Vessels (NGOPV), and so on.
These weapons and platforms are expected to be indigenised gradually between December 2022 and December 2027.
These 101 items will now be procured from local sources in accordance with the provisions of the Defense Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.
The DAP 2020 includes the procurement categories Buy (Indian – Indigenously Designed, Developed, and Manufactured), Buy (Indian), Buy and Make (Indian), Buy (Global – Manufacture in India), and Buy (Global – Manufacture in India) (Global).
Promote Domestic Industry: These weapons and platforms will promote domestic industry and transform the country’s R&D and manufacturing.
Reducing Fiscal Deficit and Instilling Nationalism: The other benefits of indigenisation will be a reduction in the fiscal deficit, security against porous borders and hostile neighbours, job creation, and the ignition of the fire of nationalism and patriotism among the Indian Forces with a strong sense of integrity and sovereignty.
Indigenisation is the ability to develop and manufacture any defence equipment within a country for the dual purpose of achieving self-reliance and reducing the burden of imports.
One of the primary goals of the Department of Defense Production is self-sufficiency in defence manufacturing.
Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs), and private organisations are all important players in the indigenisation of defence industries.
India is one of the world’s largest arms importers, with the armed forces spending approximately USD 130 billion on defence purchases over the next five years.
India’s reliance on the Soviet Union prompted a shift in its approach to defence industrialization.
Beginning in the mid-1980s, the government invested heavily in R&D (Research and Development) to enable the DRDO to take on high-profile projects.
In 1983, the government authorised the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) to develop five missile systems, marking a significant step forward in defence indigenisation (Prithvi, Agni, Trishul, Akash, Nag).
Because indigenous efforts were insufficient to meet the needs of the armed forces, the emphasis shifted to co-development and co-production in collaboration with foreign companies.
In 1998, India and Russia signed an inter-governmental agreement to co-produce the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile.
Lack of institutional capacity: There is a lack of institutional capacity and capability to carry out various policies aimed at indigenizing defence to their logical conclusion.
It raises logistics costs in India, lowering the country’s cost competitiveness and efficiency.
Land acquisition issues: they limit new entrants into the defence manufacturing and production industries.
Policy dilemma offset requirements under the DPP (Defence Procurement Policy, now replaced by DAP 2020) did not contribute to the achievement of the goal. (An offset is a portion of a contract price with a foreign supplier that must be re-invested in the Indian defence sector or used to purchase technology.)
Only government-to-government (G2G) agreements, single vendor contracts, and Intergovernmental Agreements (IGA) will be exempt from offset clauses.
All other international deals that are competitive and have multiple vendors vying for them, according to DAP 2020, will continue to have a 30 percent offset clause.
Increased the FDI limit: In May 2020, the automatic route Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit in the defence sector was raised from 49 percent to 74 percent.
Corporatization of the Ordnance Factory Boards: In October 2021, the government dissolved the four-decade-old Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and merged 41 factories into seven new state-owned companies to produce defence hardware ranging from munitions to heavy weapons and vehicles.
DISC seeks to assist Startups/Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)/Innovators in developing prototypes and/or commercialising products/solutions in the field of National Defense and Security.
It was launched by the Ministry of Defence in collaboration with the Atal Innovation Mission.
It is a one-stop online portal that allows vendors to take up items for indigenization.
E-Biz Portal: The process of applying for an Industrial License (IL) and an Industrial Entrepreneur Memorandum (IEM) is now entirely online through the ebiz portal.
A Permanent Dispute Resolution A cell can be formed to handle all objections and disputes.
A boost from the private sector is required because it can infuse efficient and effective technology and human capital required for the modernization of the innovative defence industry.
The software industry, as well as technologies such as artificial intelligence and cyber security, should be used to develop and manufacture the “chip” on a local level.
Giving the DRDO financial and administrative autonomy in order to boost its confidence and authority.
To ensure continuity, the staff at the Department of Defence Production must be trained and given longer tenures.
The Navy has made significant progress toward indigenisation, owing primarily to its inhouse design capability, the Naval Design Bureau.
A strong supply chain is essential for a defence manufacturer looking to cut costs.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has objected to Odisha’s Lingaraj Temple Ordinance, 2020, claiming that it violates the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act protects ancient and historical monuments, as well as archaeological sites and remains of national significance.
Odisha’s Lingaraj temple was built in the 10th century by King Jajati Keshari and completed in the 11th century by King Lalatendu Keshari.
It is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar, the birthplace of the Kalinga School of Temple Architecture.
Bindusagar Lake is located on the temple’s northern side.
The beautiful garden of Ekamra Van (Forest of a single mango tree) is located on the western banks of Bindu Sagar and was named after the Hindu texts in which Bhubaneswar was referred to as Ekamra van.
The Lingaraj temple, according to historian James Fergusson, is one of the finest examples of purely Hindu temples in India.
Lingaraj is also known as ‘Swayambhu’ (self-originated Shivling).
This temple represents the marriage of the Shaivism and Vaishnavism sects in Odisha.
Hari Hara is the name given to the Shivling. Perhaps the rising Lord Jagannath cult, which coincided with the completion of the Lingaraja Temple, played a role.
Protection – The Odisha Government announced a development plan for the temple and its surrounding area in Bhubaneshwar in 2019.
At a cost of around Rs 700 crore, the 66-acre “Ekamra Kshetra” development plan was launched to preserve the heritage and development of the 9 sites and their surrounding areas.
This year (2022) marks the beginning of the year 1944, according to the Indian National Calendar or the Saka calendar.
One of the National Identity Elements is the Indian National Calendar, which is based on the Saka era.
[Elements of National Identity -National Flag, National Bird, National Flower, National Tree, National Anthem, State Emblem, National Calendar, National Animal, National Song, Currency Symbol]
The Saka calendar was adopted as the national calendar in 1957, following the recommendation of a committee chaired by Indian physicist and Calendar Reform Committee chairman Meghnad Saha.
The Indian National Calendar, along with the Gregorian calendar, was adopted by the government on March 22, 1957.
The calendar is based on King Shalivaahan’s accession to the throne in 78 AD.
The Saka calendar was first used in the year 79 AD.
Concerning the Calendar – The Indian National Calendar, like the Gregorian calendar, has 12 months with 30-31 days in each.
Chaitra is the first month of the New Year, and Phalguna is the last. Chaitra lasts from March 21/22 (the day after the vernal equinox) to April 20.
The tropical zodiac signs, which are also used by Western astrologers, are followed by the calendar.
Usage – The national calendar, along with the Gregorian calendar, is used by the Indian government for all communications and calendars.
The Saka calendar is also used in the Gazette of India and All India Radio’s daily morning broadcast.
The Saka calendar is still used in Maharashtra and Goa. Countries such as Nepal and Indonesia also use it.