More than age of Universe time needed to hack Aadhaar: UIDAI Chief
“It would take more than the age of the universe for the fastest
computer on earth, or any super-computer, to break one key” of Aadhaar
encryption, CEO of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Ajay
Bhushan Pandey assured the Supreme Court.
Mr. Pandey, who steered the Aadhaar from its beginnings in 2010, was
given the unique opportunity to conduct a PowerPoint presentation in a
courtroom of the five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of
India Dipak Misra.
In an hour-long presentation, which will continue on March 27, Mr.
Pandey said Aadhaar data were protected by a 2048-bit encryption and “once
biometrics comes to us, it will never go away.”
He said, for the first time, Aadhaar offered the billion-plus population
of India a “robust, lifetime, nationally online, verifiable identity.”
He said that through a massive exercise which benefits mankind, India
had “leap-frogged” to Aadhaar identity from proxy and local identification
like ration card. He termed Aadhaar a “portable entitlement” against
But Justice A.K. Sikri questioned Mr. Pandey’s narrative about the
infallibility of Aadhaar, asking why the UIDAI had blacklisted 49,000
The CEO replied that these operators were de-registered for corruption,
carelessness and harassment of the public. “Some of them used to take money
from the public, others would not enter the details properly. We have a
zero-tolerance policy,” Mr. Pandey said.
Mr. Pandey later explained that biometric changes could be updated
through a process called ‘Aadhaar update.’
Justice Chandrachud added that eventually the onus was on the individual
to get an Aadhaar update if she wanted to continue receiving entitlements.
The judge then asked if the UIDAI had any statistics on the number of
Aadhaar authentication failures so far.
To this, Mr. Pandey referred to provisions in the Aadhaar
(Authentication) Regulations, 2016, to point out that there were
alternatives to biometric authentication like demographics and electronic
One Time Pin (OTP).
Face ID to be linked to Aadhaar: UIDAI
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) informed the
Supreme Court that it will introduce ‘Face ID’ on July 1 to enable Aadhaar
holders to authenticate their identity to access services, benefits and
The Face ID would help people without biometrics or those with poor
biometrics to avoid authentication failures and financial exclusion.
The court has repeatedly been referring to how biometric authentication
failures had deprived citizens of their rightful entitlements like pension
and provident fund.
It has highlighted that people with physical disabilities and the
mentally challenged may face the danger of financial exclusion.
In a powerpoint presentation to the Supreme Court, UIDAI CEO Ajay
Bhushan Pandey showed photographs of persons with leprosy, senior citizens
with poor biometrics and those with physical disabilities accessing benefits
He said a complete exemption from biometric authentication was provided
to persons with leprosy and those whose biometrics were non-existent due to
disability or other reasons.
Mr. Pandey drew the court’s attention to Regulation 4 of the Aadhaar
(Authentication) Regulations of 2016 which detailed the various modes of
One was verifying demographic details of the Aadhaar-holder, like name,
gender and date of birth.
The Aadhaar number and demographic information of the Aadhaar number
holder was matched with the demographic data in the CIDR.
Secondly, there was the One Time Pin (OTP) based authentication with
limited time validity. The PIN was sent to the registered mobile number
and/or e-mail address of the Aadhaar number-holder.
Then there was the multi-factor authentication, which was a combination
of two or more of the modes — biometric or OTP or demographic — for
The Regulation allows individuals the right to choose a suitable mode(s)
of authentication for a particular service or business function to enhance
However, for the avoidance of doubt, e-KYC authentication should only be
carried out using OTP and/or biometric authentication.
Brahmos with indigenous seeker fire tested
The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test-fired with
an indigenous seeker for the first time. So far the seeker, a critical
technology in missiles, came from Russia.
The seeker was jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development
Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, and BrahMos
Aerospace.Seeker technology, which determines the accuracy of a missile,
is a closely guarded secret.
Mastering it is a significant milestone in missile technology and would
reduce import dependence.
BrahMos is joint collaboration between India and Russia and is capable
of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and
The range of the supersonic missile was initially capped at 290 km as
per the obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime.
Since India’s entry into the club, the range has been extended to 450 km
and the plan is to hit 600km.
Grants from centre yet to be released to local bodies
The Centre has not yet released about Rs. 1,950 crore, by way of basic
and performance grants, for rural and urban local bodies in the State.
The sum pertains to the second instalment of the Central grants for the
Questions have been raised in certain quarters whether the Union
government will provide the funds as elections to the local bodies have not
Despite the State not holding the polls even last year, Rs. 1,390.04
crore was sanctioned about six months ago as first instalment of the basic
grants for 2017-18 and the Centre took a “lenient view” as there was one
more State — Uttar Pradesh — which also did not hold the elections at that
point of time.
As part of the devolution scheme drawn up by the 14th Finance Commission
during 2017-18, rural local bodies in Tamil Nadu should get Rs. 1,710.9
crore, including Rs. 1,516.12 crore towards basic grant and Rs. 194.78 crore
as performance grant.
While urban local bodies would receive Rs. 1,629.33 crore, of which the
basic grant is Rs. 1,263.96 crore and the performance grant is Rs. 365.37
A senior official explained that it was to press the case of the State
that Local Administration Minister S. P. Velumani visited New Delhi a few
weeks ago and met Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Hardeep Singh Puri and
Narendra Singh Tomar.
53000 Crore budget presented in Delhi Assembly
Exceeding Rs. 50,000 crore for the first time, the Delhi government
tabled a Rs. 53,000 crore budget for 2018-2019 thapt focused once again on
education but added new features such as a ‘Green Budget’ and timelines for
all proposed projects.
Presenting the fourth budget of the Aam Aadmi Party dispensation,
Finance Minister Manish Sisodia said “trickle-up economics”, as opposed to
the trickle-down model adopted by others, had been the guiding principle of
the government since it took office in February 2015.
The subsidy schemes for water and power were continued. Education once
again got the largest share of the pie, with 26% or Rs. 13,997 crore
allocated for the sector.
In a first, a section dedicated to schemes to reduce pollution and boost
clean energy in the form of a ‘Green Budget’ was included. Spread over four
departments, 26 schemes were proposed, including purchase of 1,000 electric
buses and several subsidies for those who switch to clean fuel.
In another first, the budget included timelines for all the major
projects. For instance, Mr. Sisodia said the electric buses would start by
March 31, 2019.
He added that when Mr. Sisodia took over as Finance Minister, Delhi’s
budget was Rs. 30,000 crore, an increase of “only Rs. 4,000 crore” from Rs.
26,000 crore in 2011-2012.
He said the Assurance Committee of the Assembly would keep an eye on
specific timelines of projects and the Chief Secretary would be asked to
present the status at the weekly Cabinet meetings.
NRC verification to kick off from Assam
The verification of citizenship documents of 29 lakh married women,
mostly migrant Muslims, in connection with the Supreme Court-monitored
exercise to update the 1951 National Register of Citizens, will begin in
Assam on April 2.
These women, who had submitted contentious panchayat certificates as
proof of citizenship, are among 1.39 crore people left out of the first
draft of the updated NRC that was published at the stroke of midnight on
The Gauhati High Court had ruled that the panchayat certificate had no
But the Supreme Court set aside the verdict in December last year and
said they could be used to claim inclusion in the NRC.
The other major verification process — verification of family tree of
those yet to be included in NRC — had begun on February 17.
The verification process, he said, entailed having a hearing-based
system, under which each married woman would be called to a location close
to the gram panchayat from where she had obtained her domicile certificate.
The gram panchayat secretaries would also be called so that they could
produce the evidence on the basis of which they had issued the certificates.
A link document is a piece of documentary evidence that the NRC
authorities sought to prove an applicant’s residency in Assam through the
lineage of his or her parents or grandparents before March 24, 1971 — the
cut-off date for deportation of foreigners set by the Assam Accord of 1985.
The accord, signed by the Central and State governments with the
All-Assam Students’ Union and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad, ended
six years of agitation against ‘illegal immigrants,’ mostly from adjoining
The Act, believed to have been loaded heavily in favour of the migrants,
was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2005.
The decision to update the 1951 NRC was taken that year after a
tripartite meeting among the Central and State governments and the AASU for
detecting undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh.
The NRC updating exercise began in 2013. , three years after a pilot
project in minority-dominated Barpeta district turned violent and claimed
four lives in police firing.
The application process started in May 2015 and a total 6.5 crore
documents were received from 68.27 lakh families across Assam.
Envoy from Pakistan to return to India
Pakistan’s High Commissioner Sohail Mehmood is set to return to New
Delhi, a week after he was recalled by Islamabad after allegations of some
diplomats being harassed by Indian intelligence agencies.
He also called on the Prime Minister. His presence here was useful and
many important issues in addition to the harassment of officials in New
Delhi were discussed.
He is returning to India today,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammed
Faisal said in Islamabad at the weekly media briefing.
The spokesman said Pakistan is seriously concerned over the treatment
being meted out to the diplomats, officials and families, including small
children, at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi.
Asked about similar charges by India, the spokesman said, “We don’t want
to enter into a numbers game of notes verbale with India, regardless of the
fact that the numbers on our side are much more. India has not shared any
evidence with us about their complaints.”
Maldives President Abdulla Yameen lifted a 45-day state of emergency, a
day after the government charged senior political dissidents of trying to
topple the President.
President Yameen imposed the state of emergency on February 5 for 15
days following a Supreme Court ruling that overturned convictions against
nine opposition leaders, including exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed.
He extended it by 30 more days with Parliament’s approval. The move drew
severe criticism from the opposition and from countries including India and
During the emergency rule, the administration arrested former President
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the Chief Justice, another Supreme Court judge and a
Supreme Court administrator for “attempting to overthrow the government”.
They have denied the allegations. Soon after, the remaining judges
revoked the order to reinstate 12 legislators, who had earlier been sacked
for defecting to the Opposition. Mr. Yameen also stripped Parliament of its
power to impeach him.
Following the announcement on the state of emergency being lifted,
former President Nasheed said President Yameen now had “no need for it”.
10 Market Development Missions to aid exports: Prabhu
The Union Cabinet is likely to approve 10 new market development
missions to aid exports, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry and Civil
Aviation Suresh Prabhu said.
He said the government was working on a strategy for market penetration,
market research, new products and new markets to boost exports.
Trade events are being organised in African, Central and Latin American
countries to find new markets and to introduce new products.
Answering a question on government’s exports target the Minister said,
“In the last few months we have seen exports are continuously registering
The minister said the government was ensuring that not only exports of
traditional products but new products were added to the basket.
“We are also focusing on services,” Mr. Prabhu said.
The Centre has identified 12 services as ‘champion services’ and the
Cabinet has approved Rs. 5,000 crore for promoting them.
Action plan for each of these sectors has been prepared which will
promote the services domestically and globally. These include medical
tourism and aviation.
Work is also on to identify clusters which are traditionally known for
exports of certain products.
The new industrial policy will have exports as a thrust area for
manufacturing, the minister said.
Derivative Contracts in Brass and diamonds
‘Going where no other exchange has gone before’ seems to be the
new-found mantra of Indian commodity exchanges as they aggressively vie with
each other to introduce trading in commodities that had never been traded
While Indian Commodity Exchange Ltd. (ICEX) set the ball rolling last
year by offering futures contract in diamonds, Multi Commodity Exchange of
India (MCX), which is the country's largest commodity bourse in terms of
market share, will soon start offering brass contracts.
Both these commodities have been brought to the regulated exchange space
only in India as there is no other exchange globally that offers derivatives
contracts in these commodities.
If commodity market participants are to be believed then this is just
the start as there are at least half a dozen more such commodities in the
pipeline that are awaiting regulatory approval before trading can be
Unlike a regulated exchange, an OTC market does not typically offer
transparency, trade guarantee, quality assurance and zero counter-party
Meanwhile, trading in brass futures will commence for the first time
ever on any exchange from Monday (March 26) when MCX starts offering such
contracts with compulsory delivery option.
Incidentally, the delivery will be available at Jamnagar where almost
3,000 of a total of 5,000 small and medium units producing brass in India
and accounting for 80% of the brass produced in the country, are located.
The brass contracts will provide a price discovery platform to the
physical market participants and the brass value chain would get a single
price to benchmark and hedge their risk exposure.