NDA’s Aadhaar is a ‘compulsory weapon to disempower citizens’: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter on January 17 and described the Modi government’s Aadhaar program as a “compulsory weapon to disempower citizens”.
In his tweet, Rahul makes a point about the diametrically opposite function of Aadhaar as envisioned by the current NDA government and the erstwhile UPA regime.
“UPA’s Aadhaar = A voluntary instrument to empower citizens. NDA’s Aadhaar = A compulsory weapon to disempower citizens,” Rahul says in the tweet.
The Gandhi scion’s barbed tweet comes on a day when a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court commenced hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar.
The Congress-led UPA government, which introduced Aadhaar , has consistently claimed that the NDA dispensation is using Aadhaar as a tool to surveil individuals.
“The forces in power today are converting it into monitoring mechanism. That’s how they visualize Aadhaar. That is not how it was intended,” Rahul had said at the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in October last year.
Earlier today in the Supreme Court, senior advocate Shyam Divan, who opened arguments on behalf of Aadhaar petitioners, said that through a succession of “marketing stratagems” and by employing “smoke and mirrors”, the government has rolled out a “little understood” program that seeks to “tether every resident of India to an electronic leash.”
“This leash is connected to a central database that is designed to track transactions across the life of the citizen. This record will enable the State to profile citizens, track their movements, assess their habits and silently influence their behavior. Over time, the profiling enables the State to stifle dissent and influence political decision making,” Divan argued.
He contended that at its core, Aadhaar alters the relationship between the citizen and the State and diminishes the status of the citizen.
“Every basic facility is linked to Aadhaar and one cannot live in society without an Aadhaar number, the switching off of Aadhaar completely destroys the individual,” he said.
The lawyer’s remarks are even more pertinent in light of recent reports that the Aadhaar database had been breached, leaving millions of unique identifier numbers and biometric information vulnerable. In damage control mode, the Unique Identification Authority of India introduced a slew of security measures to safeguard the Aadhaar system.

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