Friday, July 27, 2012

Adverse consequences of UID, NPR & NCTC


The Editor
The Telegraph

Sub-Adverse consequences of UID, NPR & NCTC

Dear Editor,

This is with reference to news item "Fresh scheme for unique identity" (July 26 , 2012, The Telegraph, Patna), I wish to inform you that about factual inaccuracies in the story but before I do that let me appreciate the revelation that "A year after the commencement of the UID project in the state and coverage of less than one per cent of the total population, it has been wind up."

The opening sentence of the news story reads: "The citizens yet to be covered by the Unique Identification Number (UID) project in the state would get Aadhar numbers through National Population Register (NPR) scheme."

The fact is Unique Identification Number (UID) project for Centralized Identities Data Register (CIDR) was never meant to cover citizens. Its mandate was/is to cover residents. Admittedly, UID Number is not a proof of citizenship. It is just an identifier.

The story reads: "The rest of the residents of the state would now be issued Aadhaar numbers and the corresponding “resident identity cards” on the basis of the NPR — a comprehensive identity database maintained by the registrar general and census commissioner of India under the ministry of home affairs."

It also reads: "According to sources, the NPR project comprises three steps — collection of demographic data, collection of biometric data and issue of Aadhaar numbers."

The fact is that the legality of collection of biometric data for both UID/Aadhaar and National Population Register (NPR) for cards without any legislative mandate has been questioned by the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Finance in its report submitted to the Parliament.

The fact is NPR is unfolding under Citizenship Act and Citizenship Rules. The Report of PSC reads (in the section on ‘Observations/ Recommendations): “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information without amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 as well as the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules 2003, appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation, which needs to be examined in detail by Parliament.”

As to "a comprehensive identity database maintained by the registrar general and census commissioner of India under the ministry of home affairs." The fact is Census Commissioner is supposed to gather the data of population under the Census Act, 1948 on the pre-condition that it would be kept secret and it will not be revealed even to the courts.The data collected under Census Act is confidential as per Section 15 of the Act.

I submit that in order to provide for a dignified treatment of the citizens of India respecting their privacy, Section 15 of the Census Act establishes that “Records of census not open to inspection nor admissible in evidence”. It reads: No person shall have a right to inspect any book, register or record made by a census-officer in the discharge of his duty as such, or any schedule delivered under section 10 and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, no entry in any such book, register, record or schedule shall be admissible as evidence in any civil proceeding whatsoever or in any criminal proceeding other than a prosecution under this Act or any other law for any act or omission which constitutes an offence under this Act." Demolishing this dignity of the citizens, the NPR project of Union Home Ministry is dehumanizing citizens by according them a status inferior to that of prisoners.

I submit that quite like prisoners whose biometric data like finger prints can be collected only under the Identification of Prisoners Act, it is quite outrageous that UID and NPR is taking biometric data of every resident and citizen of India disregarding absence of any legislative mandate for it.

I wish to draw your attention towards the fact that Government of Gujarat has stopped collection of biometric data for creation of the NPR.

The fact is that NPR and Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhhar are linked because column 7 of Aadhaar Enrolement Form refers to it.
It has been noted that “In the absence of any provision in the Citizenship Act, 1955, or rules for capturing biometrics, it is difficult to appreciate how the capture of biometrics is a statutory requirement. Photography and biometrics is only mentioned in the Manual of Instructions for filling up the NPR household schedule and even in that there is no mention of capturing the Iris”.

I submit that in the case of prisoners their biometric data is required to be destroyed on their acquittal but in the case of NPR and Centralized Identities Register (CIDR) of UID/Aadhaar Number, the same will be recorded for ever. Are residents and citizens worse than prisoners?

The data collection for preparation of NPR is undertaken along with the House listing Operations of Census 2011. It categorically states that “NPR will contain the details of all the ’usual residents’ of the country regardless of whether they are citizens or non-citizens.” If that is the case how can it qualify to be an act under the Citizenship Act and Rules given the fact that the Register will have both citizens and non-citizens?

As per the Manual, NPR’s utility lies in creation of “a comprehensive identity database in the country. This would not only strengthen security of the country but also help in better targeting of the benefits and services under the Government schemes/programmes and improve planning.” It further states, “It may be noted that nationality declared by respondent does not confer any right to Indian Citizenship”. In such a case isn’t Census itself quite sufficient for it?
It may be noted that the Identification of Prisoners Act provides that “Every person who has been, (a) convicted of any offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, or of any offence which would render him liable to enhanced punishment on a subsequent conviction, or (b) ordered to give security for his good behaviour under Section 118 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, shall, if so required, allow his measurements and photograph to be taken by a Police Officer in the prescribed manner.”

As per Section 7 of Identification of Prisoners Act, “Where any person who, not having been previously convicted of an offence punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term of one year or upwards, has had his measurements taken or has been photographed in accordance with the provisions of this Act is released without trial or discharged or acquitted by any court, all measurements and all photographs (both negatives and copies) so taken shall, unless the court or (in a case where such person is released without trial) the District Magistrate or Sub-divisional Officer for reasons to be recorded in writing otherwise directs, be destroyed or made over to him.” In the case of both UID and NPR it will be stored forever.
The news report reveals that "Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has been entrusted with the registration of 60 crore citizens and the remaining 60 crores citizens will be registered under the NPR project." The fact is that it is unfolding illegally without any mandate from central or state's legislatures.

The news report quotes an official saying, “After the completion of the first phase of the UID project on March 31, 2012, the registration authorities decided that the citizen registration in Bihar would now be covered by the NPR. Total 18.8 lakh citizens of the state were registered in the first phase of the UID project. Of them, as many as 18 lakh citizens have been delivered Aadhaar numbers. The rest of the applicants would be delivered their numbers within our set deadline of first week of August. Moreover, we have recently received a communiqué from our headquarters informing about non- inclusion of Bihar in the second phase of the UID. Acting upon it, the entire set-up of the UID registration across the state have been winded up and 4G Identity Solutions — the agency undertaking the biometric registration in the state— has taken back all the equipment to its headquarters in Hyderabad.” Will it not be appropriate if the state government constituted an inquiry committee to find out as to whether only equipments have been taken away and not the data of residents of the State. This merits probe because data is a precious commodity.

I wish to inform you that Bihar government's memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UIDAI on August 20, 2010 is illegal and is in contempt of Parliament.

It is quite a disclosure that "Aadhaar — a 12-digit individual identification number — would provide a universal identity for an individual and can be utilised for over 600 services in the country." Has these 600 services been identified? If so why has it not been disclosed so far.

Taking cognizance of the above mentioned facts and circumstances, I wish to inform you that all freedom loving Indians are opposed to Aadhaar and related initiatives of Home Ministry like NPR, proposed Human DNA Profiling Bill, 2012, National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and the approval of Union Surface Transport Ministry for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) due to following reasons:

It is a threat to privacy, civil liberties, federalism, national security, sovereignty and constitution

It is without democratic, parliamentary, legal and constitutional sanction

It facilitates emergence of a Database, Surveillance State and Property based Democracy

It is anti-poor and anti-citizen as it dismantles Public Distribution System and other existing social service entitlements

It promotes outsourcing of governance

It is fraught with dangers of genocide and communal crisis

It is guided by undemocratic international financial institutions and defence policies of other nuclear weapon holding countries

It will lead to adverse consequences of participation by foreign companies and biometric technology providers and collection of biometric data is an act violation of human rights that turns citizens into subjects and treats them worse than prisoners. The personal and biometric data being outsourced to third parties (including foreign companies) represents an unacceptable security risk for the people in this country, and for the nation itself

It compromises citizens’ rights of present and future generations

It is a boondoggle, an unnecessary and wasteful project for citizens as it transfers public money to private parties

It may be noted that Shri A K Doval, former director, Intelligence Bureau has revealed that Aadhaar was 'intended to wash out the aliens and unauthorised people... Now, it is being projected as more development-oriented, lest it ruffle any feathers' but he welcomes the deception. The UIDs and NPRs will be fed into a database to be shared with NATGRID (National Intelligence Grid), which includes 11 security and intelligence agencies (Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing, CBI, Central Boards of Excise and Direct Taxes, etc). NATGRID will provide real-time access into 21 databases -- including bank account details, credit card transactions, driving licences, and travel records. All this will act as a backbone for NCTC.

The core question is a state which is opposed to NCTC, how can it be in favour of UID/NPR given the fact that both are two ends of the same rope.

Gopal Krishna

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hike in petrol-diesel prices opposed

SUCI (C) strongly opposes another dose of steep hike in petrol-diesel prices in various states consequent on withdrawal of subsidy component of fuel surcharge and calls upon people to thwart the pernicious move towards total deregularization of domestic fuel prices under pressure of movement

Provash Ghosh, General Secretary, SUCI (C), has issued the following statement to the press July 26:

We strongly oppose the most unjust and avidly anti-people move on the part of the Congress-led central government to withdraw the subsidy hitherto provided to the oil companies as compensation for the taxation under state surcharge as a result of there is steep rise in petrol-diesel prices in many states while the others would soon follow the suit.

With this, the government besides the customary plea of increase in international crude price and falling rupee has found out another pretext of periodic hike in domestic fuel tariff and made one more step towards complete deregularization of retail fuel tariff which would push the spiralling price rise further and spell yet more disaster in people’s life.

This is evident that this government is avowedly committed to protect maximization of profits by the oil behemoths crying hoarse to be compensated for what is known as ‘under recovery’ or difference between international and domestic tariffs of refined oil and is shows cruel indifference to, if not indulgence in, the escalated plight and penury of the rapidly pauperized common people.

We call upon the people not to accept this draconian attack on their life and livelihood calibrated as ‘economic logic’ for rescuing a shuttering economy, not be misled by the deceptive slogans and pretended opposition of the forces subservient to bourgeois class interest and come forward to embrace the path of organized sustained conscious democratic movement under correct leadership which is the only way to thwart such sinister designs of the bourgeois government and repel the mounting onslaughts perpetrated on them by it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lalit Narayan Mishra Murder Mystery Remains Unresolved Even After 37 Years

Note:In his autobiography, Beyond The Lines, Kuldip Nayar writes:Lalit Narayan Mishra
Death Foretold
"She (Indira Gandhi) realised her credibility was low; she said at a meeting to condole the death of L.N. Mishra (the rail minister killed in a bomb attack in Samastipur), “Even if I were to be killed, they would say that I myself had got it done.” Mishra was a dear friend. He rang me up at midnight before going to Samastipur that he had handed his resignation to her personally. He sadly remarked that he’d be killed at Samastipur and put down the phone. It proved to be true. He was murdered at Samastipur the following day. The murder mystery has not been resolved to this day."

Lalit Narayan Mishra was Minister of Railways in the government of India from 1973 to 1975. He was brought into politics by the first Chief Minister of Bihar, Krishna Sinha, when he was made parliamentary secretary at his insistence to the First Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. As Minister of Railways, he visited Samastipur on 2 January 1975 to declare open Samastipur-Muzaffarpur broad gauge railway line. A bomb explosion on the dais, seriously injured him. He was rushed to the railway hospital at Danapur where he died next day. The probe in his death still remains unresolved.

It has been argued as to why he was taken from Samastipur to a small railway hospital in Danapur almost 150 km metres away when better medical facilities were available just 30 minutes away at Dharbangha still remains a question. And then why wasn’t the train carrying him made to stop at Patna where he could have got better treatment? It was also alleged that the train was held up at several places, delaying treatment that could have saved Mishra. why was he put on an ordinary passenger train when Rail Ministers have personal saloon cars at their disposal

Like in the matter of death of Lal Bahadur Shastri, former Prime Minsiter, no post mortem was ever carried out on Mishra's body.

Mishra was born at Basanpatti in Saharsa district. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1964 to 1966 then in 1966 to 1972. He held various posts in the party and government. He was Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Planning, Labour and Employment (1957–60), Deputy Minister for Home Affairs (1964–66), Deputy Finance Minister (1966–67), Minister of State for Defence Production (1967–70). From 1970 till February 4, 1973 he was Minister of Foreign Trade. On 5 February 1973 he was made Cabinet Minister of Railways by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

As a Minister of Foreign Trade, he was one of the first to recognize the potential of the current Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh and appointed him as his adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Trade. Their first meeting happened coincidentally on an India-US-Chile flight. Mishra the minister for commerce (then called minister for foreign trade) was on his way to Santiago, Chile, to attend a meeting of UNCTAD.

Indira Gandhi blamed "foreign elements" for Mishra's murder. Mishra was believed to be the key fund collector for the party. He had taken on stalwarts of the Congress to make his way into the Congress Working Party days before the grenade attack.

Mishra's wife Kameshwari Mishra has announced that the Anand Margis being held for her husband's murder are innocent. She is willing to name the real culprits before a new commission. The eight accused in the case are Santosh Anand, Sudevanand, Gopalji, Ranjan Dwivedi, Dinyanand, Ram Kumar, Ramasray and Arthanand. Arthanand has died.

Gopalji, Ram Kumar and Ramasray are absconding and have been declared proclaimed offenders. The seven accused who are alive are now said to be in their 60s. A total of 151 witnesses have been examined. The case was also the first in the country to have been transferred outside the state by the Supreme Court for fear of destruction of evidence.

She has rejected the CBI investigation as "politically motivated " and have dubbed the K K Mathew Commission report an "eyewash".

Ranjan Dwivedi, a Supreme Court lawyer and one of the accused, has sent appeals to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and other top leaders for withdrawal of the case and has filed writ petitions in the High Court for squashing the findings of the K K Mathew Commission.

The commission in its findings claimed that D. P. Ojha, the then Supretendent of Police of Samastipur District, did not carry out the investigation properly. It has also been alleged that the then Prime Minister had called on the then Home Secretary of Bihar to inquire about the transfer of one of the officers looking into the matter.

Ranjan's American wife, Patricia, has met the Prime Minister and the home minister.

Is 37-year delay a ground for acquittal in L.N. Mishra case?

The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed its anguish at the 37-year delay in the trial of murder of the then Railway Minister L.N. Mishra at Samastipur in Bihar and decided to examine whether this could be a ground for acquittal of the accused.

A Bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and C.K. Prasad, while indicating to senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina that it would examine the larger question, expressed apprehension that if a reasoning of inordinate delay and systemic failure (in the judiciary) was advanced, it could be used in future by an intelligent accused for thwarting a trial and it would set a bad precedent.

The trial of the January 2, 1975 killing was transferred from Samastipur to Delhi in 1979 on an application moved by the then Attorney-General. The charge sheet was filed against several people including advocate Ranjan Dwivedi and Sudevananda Avadhuta. However, even after 33 years the case is yet to conclude in the sessions court.

The Bench earlier issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation, asking it to explain the delay.

During the resumed hearing, Mr. Andhyarujina said: “This is a shocking case of travesty of justice and speedy trial. How can this trial be permitted to continue when there is no end in sight? The basic right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution has been violated. What is the meaning of speedy trial, when the delay, because of systemic failure, has knocked out the aspirations of life of the accused and his whole family? Whatever the reason for the delay, whether it is on the part of the accused or on the part of the prosecution, it is a fit case for acquittal as the delay has vitiated the entire proceedings.”

Justice Dattu told counsel: “We are also anguished at the delay due to the systemic failure. We agree with you that the accused had lost their prime youth and their family life is also lost. We know in many courts it takes 20 to 25 years for a criminal trial to reach finality. But can we [Supreme Court] give a finding of acquittal on the question of delay? We would be sending a wrong signal if we do so. Maybe an intelligent accused at a later stage will delay the trial for 20 or 25 years and take advantage of our order.”

Mr. Andhyarujina replied: “An accused taking advantage of his own delay cannot be allowed to have such a benefit. This is an extraordinary case and has no parallel in the history of criminal jurisprudence in any civilised country…Which civilised society can tolerate such a system which has dragged the trial for 37 years?”

The advocate, who was 27 at the time of arrest, was now 64 and he was also a heart patient. Of the 39 witnesses he had cited to prove his innocence, 31 died and four counsel who had argued the case also died, counsel pointed out.

Additional Solicitor-General Harin Raval, appearing for the CBI, attributed the delay to the accused filing revisions and appeals, and not extending cooperation in adducing evidence.

Justice Dattu told Mr. Andhyarujina: “We can examine your plea to consider the issue on the ground of delay. But it may take some time as we may have to collect details from various courts of how many cases are pending for how many years. If you [the accused and the prosecution] agree to cooperate to complete the trial without any adjournment, we can ask the trial court to conclude the trial in three months. What we say is only tentative. You consider this and address us tomorrow [Thursday].”

J. Venkatesan
Keywords: L.N. Mishra, 37-year-old case, Supreme Court anguish

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bihar link in the Higgs Boson discovery

The Indian link in the Higgs Boson discovery

"I hate to call it the God particle," says Bihar-born Professor Vivek Sharma, one of the first people to know about the existence of the Higgs Boson, which scientists say is key to understanding the universe in an interview to George Joseph

"You and I exist because of this particle, though I hate to call it the God particle," said Professor Vivek Sharma, one of the first people to know about the existence of the Higgs Boson, which scientists say is key to understanding the universe.

Sharma, professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, heads the Switzerland-and-France-based European Organisation for Nuclear Research's Compact Muon Solenoid experiment -- one of the two large particle physics detectors built on the Large Hadron Collider -- team that found the Higgs Boson.

Two major experiments, one headed by Sharma, confirmed the existence of the sub-atomic particle. The discovery is being hailed as one of the most path breaking in modern times. The new particle is 125 times the mass of a proton. Without this new particle, matter would not exist.

When he was a child, Sharma's mother, a Sanskrit scholar, had told him that the 'Song of Creation' in the Rig Veda says the world was void and formless in the beginning and it was utter chaos. The words moved the young boy.
"The song was a record of what the sages saw and thought thousands of years ago," Sharma had told from Geneva in an interview a while ago.

"They were thinking of the origin of the world and from where the mass came to the world. It moved me and has driven me to pursue answers for the ancient question. By the technology of today I am now answering the curiosity posed by my ancestors thousands of years ago."

Two teams, the CMS and Atlas, with about 3,000 scientists, were looking for the Higgs Boson, the subatomic particle considered to be the cause for creating mass. Both teams had almost reached at the same conclusion a few months ago. An official announcement was delayed for further studies.

The teams have built the most complicated machines ever, like the Large Hadron Collider, the particle accelerator where proton-photon collisions are used to search for the Higgs Boson. The multination project cost about $10 billion (Rs 55,000 crore).

"Discovery of the Higgs Boson is a very important and a necessary clue to our understanding of the subatomic world and indeed why the universe exists," Sharma told last week.
The particle is named after University of Edinburgh physicist Dr Peter Higgs, who was one of six physicists in the 1960s who suggested that a kind of cosmic molass pervading space is what gives particles their heft. Higgs pointed out that these cosmic molasses would have their own quantum particle, so the branding rights went to him. The particle is also partly named after legendary Indian scientist Satyendra Nath Bose, who worked with Albert Einstein in the 1920s and made discoveries that led to the most coveted prize in particle physics.

A large number of Indian scientists, representing the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kolkata, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, the Harishchandra Research Institute in Allahabad and the Institute of Physics in Bhubaneswar were also involved in the world's most ambitious experiment over the years.

"India is like a historic father of the project," Paolo Giubellino, spokesperson of the Geneva-based CERN, told the Press Trust of India.

How will the discovery impact life and science?

"Discoveries are made out of the curiosity," Sharma told "We do not know how the discoveries will affect our life or knowledge. But the advanced technologies we have developed will percolate soon into public use. An example is the World Wide Web, which was created at CERN for physicists to exchange data seamlessly... We gave this away to the world without cost, and it has led to a complete transformation of how we now communicate… apart from the trillions of dollars of transactions currently happening on the web."
As soon as the Higgs Boson discovery was announced, Sharma's eight-year-old daughter, a Std II student in San Diego, e-mailed him a congratulatory message. Sharma's wife works for Motorola.

Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director general, CERN, and others said that it was too soon to know for sure if the particle they found is an impostor as yet unknown to physics, perhaps the first of many particles yet to be discovered. That possibility is particularly exciting to physicists, as it could point the way to new, deeper ideas, the Times noted. Some physicists are still calling it a 'Higgs-like' particle.

Sharma said that the particle "looks very much like a Higgs Boson."

CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela, a physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said, "The results are preliminary but the five-sigma signal we're seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a Boson and it's the heaviest Boson ever found. The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks."

In Geneva, 1,000 people stood in line all night to get into an auditorium at CERN to hear the announcement July 4. Higgs entered the meeting to sustained ovation.

The next step will be to determine the precise nature of the particle and its significance for our understanding of the universe. Are its properties as expected for the long-sought Higgs Boson, the final missing ingredient? Or is it something more exotic?
All the matter that we can see, however, appears to be no more than about four per cent of the total. A more exotic version of the Higgs particle could be a bridge to understanding the 96 per cent of the universe that remains obscure, according to CERN.
Sharma said the "plan is to continue searching for new subatomic phenomena for the next decade and more."

Born in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, Sharma obtained his master's in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He came to the United States in 1984 for higher studies. He also spent five years at CERN in the early 1990s, where he discovered two new subatomic particles. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and received the UCSD Academic Senate award for distinguished teaching. Other awards he has won include the Cottrell Scholar Award, Research Corporation, (1998 ); Faculty for the 21st Century, Project Kaleidoscope (1998); and National Talent Prize, Ministry of Science & Education (India), 1979.

Asked if the new findings will change man's belief in religion/God, Sharma, who planned to return to the US in a few days, said, "God is some thing very private and a matter of each individual's belief. I do experimental physics, not God."

July 06, 2012