BJP leader and libertarian politician Subramanian Swamy said he believes that the design of Aadhaar system exposes core data to ‘American intelligence agencies’ and expressed consternation that the government was continuing with the unique identification number scheme.
Speaking to Mirror Now on the controversies around the linking of bank accounts, tax accounts and mobile numbers to Aadhaar, Swamy said he was not against linking them per se, but that the Aadhaar infrastructure was not suited for the purpose.
Specifically, he said, the decision to go with an American company to build some of the core software used in the system made it vulnerable to misuse by American intelligence agencies.
“I am opposing it not on the grounds of technology, but on the grounds that security is impossible the way we’ve gone about it,” Swamy said.
“We’ve literally sold our interests.. we’ve risked our interests rather, by going to other people. The entire biological profile of Indian individuals will be available via computers to the Americans,” he added.
Swamy is not the first to make the allegations, which stemmed from revelations made by Wikileaks about CIA’s links to an American firm that developed some core software used in the Aadhaar project. The CPIM too had highlighted the issue in 2013.
“If you can have a foolproof system by which all this can be linked, I would welcome it. But the way we gave the software to black-listed American company (for development).. the biggest beneficiaries of this Aadhaar and all this linking up and, earlier on, Mr Nilekani’s mad ideas, they are all favorable to the American intelligence interests,” Swamy said.
He also expressed his consternation that the government seemed determined to go ahead with the scheme created under the previous, Congress Party-led government.
“If the government is determined, like they were in GST despite my warnings.. If the government is determined to do something despite the best advice, then what can I do,” he said.
GST NOT BEHIND SLOWDOWN
Swamy was also asked about the implementation of the revolutionary Goods and Services Tax in India.
The tax system is meant to simply the myriad taxes paid by businesses in India and replace them with a single levy. However, it has increased the cost of compliance for small businesses and traders as it is harder to evade.
The Congress Party, which tried hard to impose the system during its rule, has now termed it the Gabbar Singh tax after a dacoit in the hit movie Sholay.
Swamy and some others within the BJP had opposed the government’s decision to implement the tax policy now, but the leadership led by Narendra Modi was keen to restart India’s stalled economic reforms.
“I wouldn’t blame the slowdown on GST, but I certainly think GST has harassed a lot of people. I had written to the Prime Minister we should do it after 2019, but Mr Jaitley was in no mood (to do so),” he said.
He said a decision to rebase key indices and economic indicators towards the end of the Congress’ tenure in government had helped mask the economic decline that the country had already come under.
“The slowdown has been going on from the UPA period. It’s only because the finance ministry changed the base of the price index, it didn’t appear that the decline had started from 2011. When Mr Chidambaram returned to the (finance) ministry after his disastrous tenure in the home ministry, this started happening,” he said.