Tag Archives: India

India’s Big Brother: Fingerprint And Eye-Scans Now Required For Food And Medicine

India collects biometric data on 1.3 billion residents for use in a nationwide identity system called Aadhaar

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The New York Times notes Big Brother has Arrived in India.

Seeking to build an identification system of unprecedented scope, India is scanning the fingerprints, eyes and faces of its 1.3 billion residents and connecting the data to everything from welfare benefits to mobile phones.

Civil libertarians are horrified, viewing the program, called Aadhaar, as Orwell’s Big Brother brought to life. To the government, it’s more like “big brother,” a term of endearment used by many Indians to address a stranger when asking for help.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other champions of the program say that Aadhaar is India’s ticket to the future, a universal, easy-to-use ID that will reduce this country’s endemic corruption and help bring even the most illiterate into the digital age.

The poor must scan their fingerprints at the ration shop to get their government allocations of rice. Retirees must do the same to get their pensions. Middle-school students cannot enter the water department’s annual painting contest until they submit their identification.

The Modi government has also ordered Indians to link their IDs to their cellphone and bank accounts.

Although the system’s core fingerprint, iris and face database appears to have remained secure, at least 210 government websites have leaked other personal data — such as name, birth date, address, parents’ names, bank account number and Aadhaar number — for millions of Indians. Some of that data is still available with a simple Google search.

As Aadhaar has become mandatory for government benefits, parts of rural India have struggled with the internet connections necessary to make Aadhaar work. After a lifetime of manual labor, many Indians also have no readable prints, making authentication difficult. One recent study found that 20 percent of the households in Jharkand state had failed to get their food rations under Aadhaar-based verification — five times the failure rate of ration cards.

Does anyone see this system as a benefit for the people?

As one commenter notes:

Aadhaar, which was envisaged as a tool to ensure welfare reaches the right person (Indian system had immense leakages including corruption and pilferage and thus made sense in some ways) has now been turned into a surveillance tool by the BJP by making it mandatory to link it to bank accounts, mobile phone, driving license, buying property etc. (literally linking it to anything). A few activists have taken it to courts and the verdict is awaited. In a way press is also putting up a fight on this issue. How this will play out remains to be soon.

How things will pan out depends on the results of the general elections. IMO, BJP is still the strongest party and their twin heads – Modi, a great orator (probably better than Obama – like the US citizens in 2008 got fooled by the change we can believe in, Indians also get fooled) and Amit Shah, a great organiser – have the ability to pull it off. Hopefully it will not come to pass as without proper checks and balance in a porous democracy like India democracy can be easily transformed into a tyranny. Even now in many ways it is the Tyranny of the majority.

As The New York Times notes, opponents have filed at least 30 cases against the program in India’s Supreme Court. They argue that Aadhaar violates India’s Constitution – and, in particular, a unanimous court decision last year that declared for the first time that Indians had a fundamental right to privacy.

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Rahul Narayan, one of the lawyers challenging the system, said the government was essentially building one giant database on its citizens. “There has been a sort of mission creep to it all along,” he said.

Source: ZeroHedge

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India Government Confiscates Gold, Even Jewelry, in Wide Spread Home Invasion Raids

Global financial repression picks up steam, led by India. After declaring large denomination notes illegal, India now targets gold.

It’s not just gold bars or bullion. The government has raided houses, no questions asked, confiscating jewelry.

For background to this article, please see my November 27 article Cash Chaos in India, 86% of Money in Circulation Withdrawn; Cash Still King in Japan.

Large denomination means 500-rupee ($7.30) and 1,000-rupee notes ($14.60), which account for more than 85 percent of the money supply. They are no longer legal tender, effective immediately.

As one might imagine, chaos ensued. And it continues.

India Confiscates Gold

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Picking up where we left off, please consider Message to Modi: Do No More Harm by Mihir Sharma.

The chaos accompanying “demonetization” hasn’t eased up noticeably. It seems likely the disruption to the economy, especially in cash-centric rural India, will hit growth sharply for at least a few quarters. It’s tough to say for how long and by how much; we are in uncharted territory here and guesses have varied widely. But many analysts agree with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who’s predicting the new policy will knock 2 percentage points off that world-beating GDP growth rate.

Demonetization was originally sold as a “surgical strike on black money” — the illicit piles of cash many rich Indians have accumulated out of sight of the taxman. It’s now clear the policy has been anything but surgical. Worse, uncomfortable questions are being asked about whether the complicated rules and exemptions that have accompanied demonetization have allowed black-money holders to launder most of their cash. Of late, Modi’s chosen to focus instead on demonetization as means of advancing a cashless economy.

Yet the idea of a war on unaccounted-for wealth remains central to demonetization’s popular appeal, which means Modi will have to find other ways to keep that narrative going. So the government has now begun to push income-tax officials to conduct raids on those who might be concealing assets in forms other than cash, such as gold.

There’s already enough fear of such raids becoming common again that the government felt the need to step in to quell some of the anxiety. That didn’t help much. The government “clarified,”  among other things, the rules governing when tax officials could seize gold: Nothing would happen “if the holding is limited to 500 grams per married woman, 250 grams per unmarried woman and 100 grams per male.” It also said that there would be no limits on jewelry “provided it is acquired… from inheritance.” Also, the “officer conducting [the] search has discretion to not seize [an] even higher quantity of gold jewelry.”

What this means, unfortunately, is that India’s income tax officers have just won the lottery. During a raid, they can, on the spot, decide whether or not to confiscate a family’s gold holdings. And remember, India has an enormous amount of gold — 20,000 metric tons, much of it inherited. (The rules governing simple searches are different, but few know that.) Rather than cleaning up tax administration, the government has handed tax officials more power than they’ve had for decades. The rich will pay what they need to escape harassment; the rest will suffer.

Rich Escape, Poor and Middle Class Suffer

The last line in the preceding article says all you need to know about what’s happening: “The rich will pay what they need to escape harassment; the rest will suffer.”

Evidence suggests the politically connected, and their friends, knew about the ban on cash and acted in advance. Everyone else is stuck.

India’s raid on gold reinforces its ban on cash. Short term aside, these kinds of actions will increase demand for gold.

What’s Next?

I keep wondering: what’s next? People pretend they know, I admit I do not. However, I am quite sure a currency crisis is coming. Where it strikes first is unknown, but the list of likely candidates increases every year.

My spotlight has been on Japan, China, and the EU. India caught me off guard, but it adheres to my general theory this pot will eventually boil over in a cascade from an unexpected place, outside the US.

US actions may cause a currency crisis, but I believe a crisis will hit elsewhere first. If I am correct, gold will be the safe haven, regardless of currency, but especially where the crisis hits.

By Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Latest Evidence Global Trade Is Collapsing

India’s Exports/Imports Plunge By One Quarter

India’s exports of goods shrank by nearly a quarter in September from a year ago, falling for a 10th straight month and threatening Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of boosting economic growth through manufacturing.

India’s economy, Asia’s third largest, is mostly driven by domestic demand, but the country has still felt the effects of China’s slowdown. Exports have dropped and consumer and industrial demand for imports has weakened.

“We see no signs of revival in exports in the near future,” said Ajay Sahai, director general of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations. “We will be lucky if exports could even touch $265 billion to $270 billion for the whole year.”

Read more: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-15/behold-latest-evidence-global-trade-has-collapsed-indias-exportsimports-plunge-25


A Third Of All Containers Shipped From Long Beach Port Are Empty

Shipments of empty containers out of the U.S. are surging this year, highlighting the impact the economic slowdown in China is having on U.S. exporters. In September, the Port of Long Beach handled a near record 197,076 outbound empty boxes. “They accounted for nearly a third of all containers that moved through the port last month. September was the eighth straight month in which empty containers leaving Long Beach outnumbered those loaded with exports.

Read more: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-14/third-all-containers-shipped-port-long-beach-are-empty