Questioning the Safety of Aadhaar


Two days after issuing an advisory asking people to refrain from sharing photocopies of their Aadhaar Card, the Unique Identification Development Authority of India (UIDAI) opted to withdraw the notification.

  • It stated that the action was to avert any possibility of ‘misinterpretation’ of the (withdrawn) press release, asking people to exercise “normal prudence” in using/sharing their Aadhaar numbers. 


GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What did the UIDAI advisory say?
  2. Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies Benefits and Services) Act, 2016
  3. Is identity theft via Aadhaar possible?
  4. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)
  5. Structural problems that the UIDAI faces

What did the UIDAI advisory say?

  • The withdrawn notice had suggested holders use a masked Aadhaar card instead of the conventional photocopy, adding that the document must not be downloaded from a cybercafé or public computer and if done for some reason, must be permanently deleted from the system.
    • ‘Masked Aadhaar’ veils the first eight digits of the twelve-digit ID with ‘XXXX’ characters. 
  • The notice informed that only entities possessing a ‘User Licence’ are permitted to seek Aadhaar for authentication purposes.
    •  Private entities like hotels or film halls cannot collect or keep copies of the identification document. 

Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies Benefits and Services) Act, 2016

Aadhaar authentication:

  • It makes clear that Aadhaar authentication is necessary for availing subsidies, benefits and services that are financed from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • In the absence of Aadhaar, the individual is to be offered an alternate and viable means of identification to ensure she/he is not deprived of the same. 

Know Your Customer (KYC):

  • Separately, Aadhaar has been described as a preferred KYC (Know Your Customer) document but not mandatory for opening bank accounts, acquiring a new SIM or school admissions.  
  • The requesting entity would have to obtain the consent of the individual before collecting his/her identity and ensure that the information is only used for authentication purposes on the Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR).
    • This centralised database contains all Aadhaar numbers and holder’s corresponding demographic and biometric information.

Forbids sharing Core Biometric Information:

  • Additionally, the Aadhaar Act forbids sharing Core Biometric Information (such as finger print, iris scan, among other biometric attributes) for any purpose other than Aadhaar number generation and authentication.

Other provisions of the Act: 

  • The Act makes it clear that confidentiality needs to be maintained and the authenticated information cannot be used for anything other than the specified purpose.
  • More importantly, no Aadhaar number (or enclosed personal information) collected from the holder can be published, displayed or posted publicly.
  • Identity information or authentication records would only be liable to be produced pursuant to an order of the High Court or Supreme Court, or by someone of the Secretary rank or above in the interest of national security. 

Is identity theft via Aadhaar possible?

  • As per the National Payment Corporation of India’s (NCPI) data, ₹6.48 crore worth of financial frauds through 8,739 transactions involving 2,391 unique users took place in FY 2021-22.  
  • Since the inception of the UID project, institutions and organisations have endowed greater focus on linking their databases with Aadhaar numbers, including for bank accounts especially in light of the compulsory linkage for direct benefit transfer schemes.
  • The NPCI’s Aadhaar Payments Bridge (APB) and the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) facilitate direct benefit transfer (DBT) and allow individuals to use Aadhaar for payments.
    • This requires bank accounts to be linked to Aadhaar.
  • In 2017, researchers at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) acquired information of various beneficiaries of such social security and employment schemes such as their Aadhaar numbers, bank account details, job card status, mobile number etc.
  • The same year, the UIDAI in response to an RTI stated that more than 200 central and State government websites publicly displayed details of some Aadhaar beneficiaries such as their names and addresses.
  • Both were made possible by the lack of robust encryption.
  • This data could be potentially used to fraudulently link the rightful beneficiary’s Aadhaar with a distinct bank account, embezzling the beneficiary by impersonation, made possible by the sizeable identity documents available. 

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)

  • UIDAI is an agency under the central government of India mandated to collect demographic and biometric information of the country’s residents, store the data in a central database, and issue to each resident of the country a 12-digit unique identity number called Aadhaar.
  • UIDAI was established as per the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.
  • The act is also called the Aadhaar Act 2016 in short.
  • UIDAI is therefore a Statutory Body.
  • It comes under the Electronics & IT ministry.

Structural problems that the UIDAI faces

No specified encryption algorithm:

  • The Aadhaar Data Vault is where all numbers collected by authentication agencies are centrally stored. Its objective is to provide a dedicated facility for the agencies to access details only on a need-to-know basis.
    • Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s (CAG) latest report stipulated that UIDAI neither specified any encryption algorithm (as of October 2020) to secure the same nor a mechanism to illustrate that the entities were adhering to appropriate procedures.
  • It relied solely on audit reports provided to them by the entities themselves. 

UIDAI’s Unstable record:

  • Further, UIDAI’s unstable record with biometric authentication has not helped it with de-duplication efforts, the process that ensures that each Aadhaar Number generated is unique.
    • The CAG’s reported stated that apart from the issue of multiple Aadhaars to the same resident, there have been instances of the same biometric data being accorded to multiple residents.

Duplicate Aadhaar numbers:

  • As per UIDAI’s Tech Centre, nearly 4.75 lakh duplicate Aadhaar numbers were cancelled as of November 2019. The regulator relies on Automated Biometric Identification Systems for taking corrective actions.
    • The CAG concluded it was “not effective enough” in detecting the leakages and plugging them.

Biometric authentications:

  • Biometric authentications can be a cause of worry, especially for disabled and senior citizens with both the iris and fingerprints dilapidating.
  • Though the UIDAI has assured that no one would be deprived of any benefits due to biometric authentication failures, the absence of an efficient technology could serve as poignant premise for frauds to make use of their ‘databases’.  

Astra Mk-1 : Air-to-Air Missile


The Ministry of Defence said that it has signed a contract with the Hyderabad-based public-sector Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) for supply of the Astra Mark-1, at a cost of Rs 2,971 crore, for deployment on fighter jets of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

  • The Astra Mk-1 is a beyond visual range (BVR), air-to-air missile (AAM).


GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Astra and its variants
  2. Strategic significance

Astra and its variants

  • The missile has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for deployment on fighter jets like Sukhoi-30 MKI and Tejas of the IAF and the Mig-29K of the Navy.
  • BVM missiles are capable of engaging beyond the range of 20 nautical miles or 37 kilometers .
  • AAMs are fired from an airborne asset to destroy an airborne target.
  • Astra project was officially launched in the early 2000s with defined parameters and proposed future variants. Around 2017, the development phase of Mk-1 version was complete.
  • Several successful tests have been conducted since 2017 from Sukhoi-30 MKIs.
  • While the range for Astra Mk-1 is around 110 km, the Mk-2 with a range over 150 km is under development and Mk-3 version with a longer range is being envisaged.
  • One more version of Astra, with a range smaller than Mk-1 is also under development.

Strategic significance

  • The missile has been designed based on requirements specified by the IAF for BVR as well as close-combat engagement, reducing the dependency on foreign sources.
  • AAMs with BVR capability provides large stand-off ranges to own fighter aircraft which can neutralise adversary airborne assets without exposing themselves to adversary air defence measures.
  • Stand-off range means the missile is launched at a distance sufficient to allow the attacking side to evade defensive fire from the target.
  • Astra is technologically and economically superior to many such imported missile systems.
  • The missile can travel at speeds more than four times that of sound and can reach a maximum altitude of 20 km, making it extremely flexible for air combat.
  • The missile is fully integrated on the Sukhoi 30 MKI I and will be integrated with other fighter aircraft in a phased manner, including the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
  • The Indian Navy will integrate the missile on the MiG-29K fighter aircraft which are deployed on the Navy’s aircraft carriers, thus adding to the lethality of India’s Aircraft carriers.

What is Liquid Nano Urea?


During his visit to Gujarat, Prime Minister officially inaugurated the country’s first liquid nano urea plant at Kalol.


GS II- Agriculture and Related issues

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is liquid nano urea?
  2. Benefits of liquid nano urea:
  3. How does it work?

What is liquid nano urea?

  • It is essentially urea in the form of a nanoparticle.
  • Urea is a chemical nitrogen fertiliser, white in colour, which artificially provides nitrogen, a major nutrient required by plants.
  • The product has been developed at IFFCO’s Nano Biotechnology Research Centre (NBRC) at Kalol.

Benefits of liquid nano urea:

  • This patented product is expected to not only substitute imported urea, but to also produce better results in farms.
  • Apart from reducing the country’s subsidy bill, it is aimed at reducing the unbalanced and indiscriminate use of conventional urea, increase crop productivity, and reduce soil, water, and air pollution.
  • While conventional urea has an efficiency of about 25 per cent, the efficiency of liquid nano urea can be as high as 85-90 per cent.

How does it work?

  • Conventional urea fails to have the desired impact on crops as it is often applied incorrectly, and the nitrogen in it is vaporised or lost as gas. A lot of nitrogen is also washed away during irrigation.
  • Liquid nano urea is sprayed directly on the leaves and gets absorbed by the plant.
  • Fertilisers in nano form provide a targeted supply of nutrients to crops, as they are absorbed by the stomata, pores found on the epidermis of leaves.
  • IFFCO advises that 2-4 ml of nano urea should be mixed a litre of water and sprayed on crop leaves at active growth stages.
  • Liquid nano urea has a shelf life of a year, and farmers need not be worried about “caking” when it comes in contact with moisture.

What is Sedition Law?


By order dated May 11, 2022, a Bench presided over by the Chief Justice of India, has directed that the petitions challenging the Section 124A be listed for final determination in the third week of July 2022; and that in the meantime suspend the use of Section 124A IPC.


GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Constitutional Provisions, Fundamental Rights), GS-II: Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Sedition?
  2. About Sedition law
  3. Criticism of Sedition
  4. The Problem of Sedition being constitutional

What is Sedition?

Sedition, which falls under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, is defined as any action that brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt towards the government of India and has been illegal in India since 1870.

Click Here For Infographic: Sedition Law Infographic

Historical background of Sedition laws

  • Sedition as a concept comes from Elizabethan England, where if you criticised the king and were fomenting a rebellion, it was a crime against the state.
  • When they ruled India, the British feared Wahhabi rebellion. They brought the [sedition] law in, and it was used against our freedom fighters as well.
  • We must remember that both Mahatma Gandhi and [Bal Gangadhar] Tilak were tried under this law and sentenced.
  • Government didn’t remove it because every administrator has this thought that dissent is okay, but beyond a certain point it gets dangerous and an administration must have the means to control it.
  • Previously policemen were much more independent. But since Indian independence, the independence of the police has also been severely compromised. So, any local leader can almost bully a policeman into registering a case.

About Sedition law

  • The law was originally drafted by Thomas Macaulay. Since its introduction in 1870, meaning of the term, as well as its ambit, has changed significantly.
  • Sedition is a cognisable, non-compoundable, and non-bailable offence, under which sentencing can be between three years to imprisonment for life.
About Section 124A of Indian Penal Code (IPC)
  • The Indian Penal Code in Section 124A lays down the offence:
  • “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”
  • A person charged under this law can’t apply for a government job. They have to live without their passport and must present themselves in the court as and when required.

Criticism of Sedition

  • Colonial Era law: It is a colonial relic and a preventive provision that should only be read as an emergency measure.
  • Right to Freedom of expression: Use of Section 124A by the government might go beyond the reasonable restrictions provided under fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression as per Article 19 of the Constitution.
  • Democratic foundation: Dissent and criticism of the government are essential ingredients of robust public debate in a vibrant democracy and therefore, should not be constructed as sedition. The sedition law is being misused as a tool to persecute political dissent.
  • Lower Conviction Rate: Though police are charging more people with sedition, few cases actually result in a conviction. Since 2016, only four sedition cases have seen a conviction in court which indicates that sedition as an offence has no solid legal grounding in India.
  • Vague provision of sedition laws: The terms used under Section 124A like ‘disaffection’ are vague and subject to different interpretation to the whims and fancies of the investigating officers.
  • Other legal measure for offences against the state: Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (1967), have provisions that penalize “disrupting the public order” or “overthrowing the government with violence and illegal means”. These are sufficient for protecting the national integrity. o Similarly, the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act is also there for offences against the state.
  • Perception of law: Globally, sedition is increasingly viewed as a draconian law and was revoked in the United Kingdom in 2010. In Australia, following the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) the term sedition was removed.

The Problem of Sedition being constitutional

  • The law of sedition was not struck down by the Supreme Court in 1962 as unconstitutional even though sedition, as defined in Section 124A of the IPC, clearly violates Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution which confers the Fundamental Right of freedom of speech and expression, the most valuable right of free citizens of a free country.
  • Further, this section does not get protection under Article 19(2) on the ground of reasonable restriction.
  • It may be mentioned in this context that sedition as a reasonable restriction, though included in the draft Article 19 was deleted when that Article was finally adopted by the Constituent Assembly. It clearly shows that the Constitution makers did not consider sedition as a reasonable restriction.
  • However, the Supreme Court was not swayed by the decision of the Constituent Assembly. It took advantage of the words ‘in the interest of public order’ used in Article 19(2) and held that the offence of sedition arises when seditious utterances can lead to disorder or violence.
  • This act of reading down Section 124A brought it clearly under Article 19(2) and saved the law of sedition. Otherwise, sedition would have had to be struck down as unconstitutional.


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