Narayana Murthy, Chidambaram Spar Over Aadhaar


New Delhi: The controversial Aadhaar today triggered a heated spat between P Chidambaram and NR Narayana Murthy, with the lawyer-politician flagging concerns from a libertarian perspective and the Infosys co-founder stressing on the need for Parliament to enact laws to protect privacy.

Like any other modern country, there is a need to establish individual identities in the form of a driving licence, at the same time ensuring that there is no violation of privacy with such an identification, Murthy said, speaking at IIT-Bombay’s annual Mood Indigo festival here this evening.

Chidambaram on the other hand argued that using Aadhaar for every transaction has “serious consequences” that will turn the country into an “Orwellian state”, compromising the ideals of a liberal democracy and an open society.

“If a young man and a young woman want to have a private holiday, they may not be married, what’s wrong with that? If a young man wants to buy condoms, why should he disclose his Aadhaar or identity?” the former finance minister quipped.

“Why should the state, that is the government, know what medicines I buy, what cinemas I visit, what hotels I stay in, who are my friends?” he asked further. “If I am in the government, I should resist the temptation to know about all these activities which individual citizens do,” he said.

Retorting back, Murthy said, “I disagree with you … all of the things you talked about are available through Google today.” Chidambaram said he has not linked his bank account with the Aadhaar number and appealed for a pause on linking activities till January 17, when the a five-judge Constitution bench is slated to resume hearing the bunch of petitions on the matter.

He further said right now, all the Aadhaar linking is being done not voluntarily by the people but as a tool to “conform” because of the barrage of SMSs and mails.
“The question is: there are many agencies which say, ‘give me your Aadhaar.

And even crematorium is asking for Aadhaar today!,” Chidambaram said, clarifying that he doesn’t oppose Aadhaar as a means to establish identities and help extend government subsidies.

When pointed out about the potential misuse of the individual data while availing of services by the chair of the panel, Murthy said we should not “trash” Aadhaar and took jibes at Parliamentarians for not coming out with a privacy law that can help protect an individual’s data.