Should Aadhaar-linking be mandatory? Chidambaram, Narayana Murthy argue
Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy and former finance minister P Chidambaram had an argument at IIT-Bombay yesterday over linking Aadhaar to welfare schemes. While Chidambaram questioned the need to link Aadhaar to activities "that have nothing to do with the government", Murthy maintained it shouldn't be trashed just because "parliamentarians haven't worked hard to produce privacy laws".
'Personal information shouldn't be accessed by Big Brother using Aadhaar'
Murthy and Chidambaram were attending IIT-Bombay's annual Mood Indigo festival yesterday evening when a debate broke out over mandatory Aadhaar linking. Chidambaram claimed the "government is completely deaf" to arguments against Aadhaar linking. Using Aadhaar for everything has "serious consequences" and will turn India into an "Orwellian state", he said. "If a young man wants to buy condoms, why should he disclose his identity?"
'Aadhaar linking not being done voluntarily, but to conform'
"The question is: there are many agencies which say, 'give me your Aadhaar. And even crematorium is asking for Aadhaar today!" Chidambaram said. However, he clarified he doesn't oppose using Aadhaar to establish identity and check fraud in government schemes.
'Need to establish individual identities while ensuring privacy'
Defending Aadhaar, Murthy said there's "a need to establish individual identities (while) ensuring there's no violation of privacy". "That responsibility is of Parliament...to ensure that the executive does not do it. You have all the powers," he told Chidambaram. "There's no privacy issue" in Aadhaar by itself, he said, taking potshots at parliamentarians for not coming out with a satisfactory privacy law.
Debate ends with both personalities on middle ground
Towards the end, Chidambaram called Murthy "disarmingly innocent", even as the latter agreed "as long as there are laws that protect privacy, there's no issue. "In the revised formulation, I entirely agree with Mr Murthy," Chidambaram responded. "The beauty of disagreeing with Mr Chidambaram is that you can disagree with him as long as you are not disagreeable," Murthy concluded.