Dissent on Aadhaar: Big Data Meets Big Brother
Reetika Khera
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

Aadhaar, India’s unique identity system, was introduced in 2009 with the stated purpose of creating a more inclusive and efficient welfare system. Hundreds of millions of Indians were enrolled into the biometric database, with successive governments creating pressure by making it compulsory for social benefits. Even after the Supreme Court verdict in 2018, it remains a must-have for welfare.

Dissent on Aadhaar argues that Aadhaar was never really about welfare. The essays in this book explain how the project opens the doors to immense opportunities for government surveillance and commercial data-mining.

Focussing on Aadhaar, but drawing lessons from ID projects from other parts of the world also, this book alerts readers to the dangers lurking in such expansive digital ID projects. For example, how profiling, made possible by Aadhaar, impinges on the fundamental Right to Privacy; or how surveillance leads to self-censorship and can choke free thought and expression; or how Aadhaar, contrary to government claims, excludes people entitled by right from welfare when made compulsory. On the technology side, what are the perils of using biometrics and the dangers arising from centralised databases? Who has access to all our data, and how can it be used against us?

With contributions from economists, lawyers, technologists, journalists and civil liberties campaigners, this book is for everyone concerned about a healthy democracy in India and beyond. It will be also be of interest to students and scholars of political science, law and public policy.

Reetika Khera is Associate Professor (Economics and Public Systems) at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Foreword by Justice (Retd) Ajit Prakash Shah


Introduction by Reetika Khera

1. Impact of Aadhaar in Welfare Programmes

Reetika Khera

2. On the Margins of Aadhaar: The Living Dead, and Food ‘Disruptions’

Anumeha Yadav

3. A Unique Identity Dilemma

Jean Dre`ze

4. Aadhaar and Privacy

Reetika Khera

5. Surveillance Project

Sunil Abraham

6. Aadhaar—Identity or Dystopia?

Viswanath L.

7. Inside the Plumbing of Technology Projects

Kiran Jonnalagadda

8. Aadhaar’s Biometric Tsunami: Will it Sweep Away Privacy, Drown Civil Liberties?

Shyam Divan

9. Aadhaar—Constitutionally Challenged

Prasanna S.

10. The Privacy Judgment

Gautam Bhatia

11. The Relevance of Children’s Consent under a Mandatory Aadhaar Regime

Kritika Bhardwaj

12. Aadhaar—From Welfare to Profit

Usha Ramanathan

13. Public Investments and Private Profits

M. S. Sriram

14. Is Aadhaar like the Social Security Number?

Srujana Bej

15. Identity and Development: Questioning Aadhaar’s Digital Credentials

Gus Hosein and Edgar Whitley


List of Contributors

Name Index

Subject Index

Release Date : 19-Jan-2019 Venue : India International Centre, New Delhi.
1. Three social scientists get award | The Hindu, Chennai, 18 April 2021.
2. Alarmingly Simplified Data Gathering | Economic and Political Weekly, 22 August 2020.
3. A Necessary Voice in the Face of a Juggernaut | The Book Review Journal, December 2019
4. Still Wrought With Controversy | Business Today (Fortnightly), New Delhi, 19 May 2019
5. Aadhaar's weak foundations | Business Standard, New Delhi, 11 May 2019
6. New books to read in this summer vacation | Brainfeed Group of Magazines, 20 April 2019
7. New book highlights limitations of ID project, legal and tech opposition to it | First Post, February 05, 2019
8. Rhetoric and ground reality | The Hindu, New Delhi, February 2019
9. Dissent on Aadhaar: Big Data Meets Big Brother | Out Now, Business Standard, New Delhi, January 2019
10. Dissent on Aadhaar: Big Data Meets Big Brother Edited by Reetika Khera | The Hindu, New Delhi, January 2019
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