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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Policy puzzles about UIDAI

A great debate is taking place about UIDAI. We have worked on many aspects of the policy puzzles about UIDAI.

-- Is UIDAI worth building, in the sense of comparing the financial costs and the financial benefits? In November 2012, we did a cost benefit analysis, and the answer seems to be Yes.

-- How should UIDAI think about the user charges for the infrastructure services that it provides? We were part of the UIDAI thought process on these questions in December 2013.

-- The public administration side: What were the ingredients that led up to the successful launch? A good paper is UIDAI's public policy innovations, by Ram Sewak Sharma, September 2016.  Building on this paper, Praveen Chakravarty has an article Building forts, not empires, 9 September 2016.

-- There are grave problems associated with privacy in India. How do we avoid the China model? An early paper on privacy in India is Towards a privacy framework for India in the age of the Internet, by Vrinda Bhandari and Renuka Sane, October 2016. This paper includes one section analysing the Aadhaar Act from the viewpoint of this proposed privacy framework.

-- Can the judiciary review the Speaker's decision on classifying the Aadhaar Bill as a money bill? Pratik Datta, Shefali Malhotra and Shivangi Tyagi have a paper from March 2017, in which they feel the answer is Yes.

-- If a country had to build an Aadhaar like system, what kind of law and regulations would be required?  Is the Aadhaar Act and the associated regulations (both of which were issued in 2016) an adequate legal foundation? Vrinda Bhandari and Renuka Sane feel this is not the case.

-- As Aadhaar becomes the core around which the citizen's relationship with the state revolves, we need to ask if citizens have access to an adequate grievance redressal mechanism? Vrinda Bhandari and Renuka Sane think the answer to this question is a resounding no.

-- Why do we need a fundamental right to privacy? Smriti Parsheera argues that the potential ramifications of not recognising this right run much deeper than the Aadhaar issues of today.

-- UIDAI is an important new organisation, and it should emerge as a high performance agency. Vrinda Bhandari, Renuka Sane and Bhargavi Zaveri argue that under the present law, UIDAI is neither performance oriented nor is there accountability for failure. They propose that the UIDAI should be held to appropriate accountability standards, so as to create an environment where it will perform well.

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