Updated: Jul 21, 2021
The Cyber "Pandemic" - Problem, Reaction, Solution
People should be demanding that all of the food supply be removed from having dependency upon digital systems. India is the test ground for all biotechnology because they have the largest population. If biotechnology flies in India, it will be carried out elsewhere in the world. Monsanto has been in India trying to control their food supply for a while. Farmers have been committing suicide because they can't keep up with the regulations imposed by the government.
The Indian government is testing out biometric systems to keep track of its citizens. They also cut off the food supply to citizens if they don't participate. This is what they have planned for us, except what we will get is far more advanced and therefore worse. The government will use the "Cyber Pandemic" as an excuse to roll out this system in the State of Emergency it will create. It will be the new savior system that people will beg for as a result of starvation and disease spreading.
Seeds of Doubt Monsanto never had Bt cotton patent
UCLA – 300,000 Farmers Suicides
100 days and 248 deaths later, Indian farmers remain determined
Rising suicide rate for Indian farmers blamed on GMO seeds
Monsanto, which has just paid out $2.4 million to US farmers, settling one of many lawsuits it’s been involved in worldwide, is also facing accusations that its seeds are to blame for a spike in suicides by India farmers.
READ MORE: Monsanto to pay $2.4mn to farmers over 2013 GMO-wheat scare The accusations have not transformed into legal action so far, but criticism of Monsanto has been mounting, blaming the giant company for contributing to over 290,000 suicides by Indian farmers over the last 20 years. The author of a documentary on Indian farmers’ suicides, Alakananda Nag, who has interviewed dozens of the relatives of those who have taken their lives, links the rise in the suicide rate to the use of GMO seeds. She believes small farms are particularly vulnerable. “The large farms certainly have the funds to support themselves and get on, but the smaller ones are really ones that suffer the most,” Nag told RT. “Monsanto definitely has a very big hand to play. A few years ago it was illegal to grow GMO crops in India. It’s not like the suicide did not exist back then. It did, but I think there was definitely a sharp rise in the [suicide] numbers once [GMOs] were allowed.”
The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice has estimated that in 2009 alone 17,638 Indian farmers committed suicide, or one suicide every 30 minutes.
Farmers’ widows, such as Savithri Devi from India’s southern state of Telangana, explain just how tough things can get for those trying to grow enough crops to earn a living. “[My husband] initially put a bore well, then started cultivation, but we didn’t get enough water from the bore well and there were no rains, too,” Devi told RT. “So he again tried to deepen the bore well, but it didn’t work. So he borrowed money. His depression eventually led him to committing suicide. He drank pesticide and died.” The legalization of GMO in 2002 has only added to the stress experienced by Indian farmers, according to the head of the Council for Responsible Genetics, Sheldon Krimsky. “The people would give out the loans if they believed these seeds would give the greatest yields,” Krimsky told RT. “So they are not going to get a loan if they don’t go with the GMOs. And many of them felt coerced to take the GM seeds. The GM crops have not done as well in all regions of India... [That has led to] much greater indebtedness with the GM crops that did not perform as well.” The problem with GMO seeds in India is that they are often “not bred for that area, for rain-fed agriculture, so they fail more frequently,” Dr. Vandana Shiva, an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author, told WeAreChange.com.
She also says the problem is most acute in the regions where cotton is grown. Small farms there increasingly have to compete with multinational agribusiness corporations.
Big firms use biotech cotton seeds to gain higher yields, while smaller ones are trying to do the same.
“Generating high yields with [biotech] cotton seeds also requires much higher amounts of water than other cotton cultivars. For farmers who lack access to proper irrigation and whose farms are primarily rain-fed, the crop often fails,” a report by Center for Human Rights and Global Justice says.
Monsanto, meanwhile, denies that its seeds have contributed to the hardships of the Indian farmers.
“Despite claims by those who oppose GMO crops, research also demonstrates there is no link between Indian farmer suicides and the planting of GMO cotton,” the company says on its website, where an article is titled: “Is Bt or GMO Cotton the Reason for Indian Farmer Suicides?”
The US company cites several studies to support its claim, including a 2008 report published by the International Food Policy Research Institute, a Washington-based think tank. The study argues that there is no evidence for an increased suicide rate following the 2002 introduction of biotech cotton.
Monsanto, which is the world’s largest producer of genetically engineered seed, has been involved in high-profile lawsuits globally over its products.
A number of human rights advocates have warned that GMOs have not been studied thoroughly enough to evaluate their potential risks.
Fears over GMOs possible impact have given rise to a worldwide March against Monsanto movement. Their annual protests against the spread of GMO have seen hundreds of thousands of people on all continents participating.
BY BILLY PERRIGO SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 9:36 AM EDT
Wednesday marked a significant milestone for the world’s largest biometric ID system, India’s Aadhaar program.
When the program launched in 2009, India set out to achieve a world-first: giving every citizen a unique, biometrically-verifiable identification number. Those biometrics (iris scans and fingerprint records) would be linked to a person’s Aadhaar number, which would in turn be used in all interactions with the state—weeding out fraud, making taxation more efficient, and ultimately saving money, the government said.
Countries around the world looked on to see if it would work. Today, 1.2 billion Indians—including over 99% of the adult population—are enrolled.
But critics said that the scheme, while supposedly voluntary, had imposed itself increasingly onto citizens’ private lives. It became near impossible in India to buy a cellphone contract or open a bank account, for example, without providing an Aadhaar number.
On Wednesday, that began to change. India’s Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling, said that private companies could no longer require users to provide their Aadhaar details as a condition of service.
The same court also upheld the legality of the system as a whole, saying it does not violate Indians’ right to privacy and could therefore continue to operate. “Aadhaar gives dignity to the marginalized,” the judges on the Court’s bench said. “Dignity to the marginalized outweighs privacy.”
Here’s what to know about the Aadhaar system.
What is Aadhaar?
Aadhaar, which means ‘foundation’ in Hindi, centers around a 12-digit identity number, linked to fingerprints and iris scans. Each user receives a card with that number on it, which can be cross-referenced with the biometric data held in a database.
An Aadhaar card is not a proof of citizenship—but citizens are required to provide it to receive welfare payments and social services.
The idea behind Aadhaar was to create a centralized system for the whole of India reliant on one form of recognizable ID, rather than the old, decentralized system of birth certificates and ration cards which were vulnerable to loss and damage, and which left marginalized people—particularly the rural poor—struggling to obtain state services
Increasingly, private companies began using Aadhaar numbers to quickly and cheaply ‘onboard’ new customers. In other words, instead of going through the lengthy and expensive process of logging people’s identities and then having to verify their accuracy, banks, e-wallet providers and insurance companies could just compare a customer’s Aadhaar card to the readings from a fingerprint machine, and sign people up for services that might have been prohibitively expensive before.
“The project was initially seen as a cost-effective and ‘modern’ way of bringing an enormous and often poorly documented population into a single database,” says Professor Edward Simpson, the director of the South Asia Institute at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
Does it work?
Broadly, yes. The technology behind the system works for the majority of Indians. Aadhaar has so far saved the Indian government as much as $12.4 billion, according to an official from the Unique Identification Authority of India, which administers the program.
But it has also come in for criticism. “Teething problems, corruption, and the emergence of Aadhaar brokers have impeded the smooth implementation of the project,” says Simpson. Making an Aadhaar number compulsory to access government services was meant to remove complexity from the system, but for some it added extra barriers.
For example, there have been reports of migrant and rural children who never received birth certificates being disallowed from school enrolment because of not being able to prove their identity in order to sign up for an Aadhaar card. There have been other reports of leprosy sufferers with no fingers or eyes having their state benefits cancelled because fingerprints and iris scans are mandatory.
Further questions were raised by privacy advocates. In January, India’s Tribune newspaper announced that one of its reporters had managed to purchase personal information leaked from the Aadhaar database from a broker for just 500 rupees ($7).
And others have raised concerns that biometric information is a poor basis for an identity system. “Any compromise of such a database is essentially irreversible for a whole human lifetime,” writes the lawyer Mishi Choudhary for the BBC. “No one can change their genetic data or fingerprints in response to a leak.”
“On one hand, Aadhaar is seen as an intervention in everyday practices of corruption, a mechanism for the equitable and accurate distribution of social welfare,” Professor Simpson tells TIME. “At the same time, Aadhaar has been seen as a violation of privacy, an intrusion by the state into the private lives and affairs of citizens, and as a way of strengthening surveillance techniques.”
What did the Supreme Court say?
The Supreme Court said, effectively, that Aadhaar could continue to be used by the state, but that private companies could no longer use Aadhaar for easy ‘onboarding.’
“We have come to the conclusion that Aadhaar Act is a beneficial legislation which is aimed at empowering millions of people in this country,” the Court said. “At the same time, data protection and data safety is also to be ensured to avoid even the remote possibility of data profiling or data leakage.”
While that might look like a defeat for the government’s plan for a wide-ranging identification system, it could actually work to their advantage. As part of opening the Aadhaar database up to private companies, the government exposed over 1 billion Indian citizens’ data to innumerable outsiders. That openness, many suspected, was the cause of the damaging leaks from January.
“The decision is a victory for those who see Aadhaar as a form of intrusion or surveillance,” says Professor Simpson.
What did observers say?
Nandan Nilekani, who previously led the department responsible for Aadhaar, said the Supreme Court had made “a landmark judgement in favor” of the program. The decision, he said, “validated the founding principles of Aadhaar.”
Others were more critical. Sanjay Nirupam, a former lawmaker, criticized the ruling BJP, saying it should apologize to “those whose mobile and bank accounts have been forcefully and illegally linked with their Aadhaar under pressure.”
As with other Supreme Court-related disagreements, this debate is shaped by more than a hint of partisan politics. The Modi government sees Aadhaar as a way to to accelerate development and eradicate poverty. “Aadhaar has added great strength to India’s development,” Modi said in January. In May, Modi cited Aadhaar as an example of how the BJP is ahead of rival parties when it comes to technology. (Aadhaar was launched in 2009 by the Congress Party, the rival to Modi’s BJP that held power until 2014, but has been greatly expanded under the Modi government.)
Opponents of the ruling BJP, however, often point out that “development” is often used as an excuse to enrich the richest in society while—in the case of Aadhaar—forcing the majority into a system of surveillance and further marginalizing the minority who are excluded.
What does this mean for the rest of the world?
In some ways, this particular form of centralized identification system is unique to India, which has long struggled to ensure its massive and diverse population is treated equitably by the central state.
But other countries have flirted with the idea of similar systems as biometric technology has become cheaper and more widespread. Countries routinely integrate fingerprints and iris scans into passports, but none has tried as hard as India to make it the basis of citizen-state interaction. That might change in the future.
India’s ruling indicates that, for democracies at least, integrating state ID systems with the market is always likely to spark privacy and data security concerns—which in turn may lead ID systems to be curtailed by privacy laws. More authoritarian states like China, however, will not have to overcome such a barrier.
“The questions raised by the Aadhaar debate do not only belong to India,” says Professor Simpson. “They are global questions concerning identity, data and the rights of individuals, corporations and governments.”
India was one of the fastest growing economies in the world in 2018, behind only Ghana and Ethiopia. Despite this huge growth potential, a significant portion of India’s 1.1 billion residents still live below or close to the poverty line, a problem that is only expected to exacerbate—according to the UN, India will overtake China in terms of total population by as soon as 2024. Most of India’s poor are thus reliant on government subsidies for their daily survival. India’s Public Distribution System (PDS) which constitutes 1% of total GDP of the country, provides food to the poor via Fair Price Shops and other government schemes. However, the whole system was under tremendous pressure and process of obtaining and delivering these subsidies, was riddled with fraud, existence of black markets and exhausting bureaucracy.
To combat a plethora of these logistical issues, Aadhaar was created in 2009. It was developed as a tool to standardize the process of data collection and ease the dispersal of money from government schemes to the citizens of the country, especially the poor. Aadhaar is 12-digit unique-identity number that is issued to all Indian residents, and the process of obtaining the ‘Aadhaar Card’ involves collection of citizens’ fingerprints, retina scans as well as their face photos. It is one of the biggest biometric databases on the planet with around 1.2 billion enrollments, covering around 89% of India’s population.
While Aadhaar has the potential to digitize much of India’s cumbersome bureaucracy, the project is not without its shortcomings—(1) its overreaching influence and myriad data leaks pose a massive threat to the privacy of the citizens of India, (2) its use as a substitute for official Photo-ID has introduced new vulnerabilities into the system, and (3) the use of the data for AI software development is on shaky ethical grounds. All of these issues exacerbate one another and have the potential to turn the Aadhaar system into an oppressive surveillance tool for the state.
Aadhaar was first formulated as an idea in 2009 under the then ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDIA) was the main authority responsible for the Aadhaar system and this agency was set up as an extension of the Planning Commission of India (an important government-funded policy think tank). The project was headed by Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder of one of India’s premier IT firms, Infosys and was designed to simplify the bureaucratic nature of government schemes in India.
Before the creation and advent of Aadhaar, availing the benefits of government programs was very hard and taxing for the poor. It involved filing a lot of complicated paperwork, providing several proofs of residence and identification and also required people to take time off work to complete these requirements. Aadhaar has since then replaced most requirements for identification proof and is usually the only document required to avail a government scheme.
The Aadhaar card is now linked with services such as driving license, school scholarships, cooking gas subsidies, passports, pensions and provident fund accounts. The Aadhaar card is also being considered for provision of the services provided by Indian Railway System, especially the online reservation process. The Developmental Cooperative Bank even launched its first Aadhaar based ATM in June 2016 and aims to utilize the biometric fingerprint as an additional security feature in customers accessing their money.
Aadhaar’s importance cannot be understated—it contains the data of billions of people, and the security of this data and the system itself is an incredibly important point of political contention. Complicating the issue is that fact that ever since its inception, Aadhaar has been plagued by a myriad of internal and legal problems, as well as major leaks and vulnerabilities in the overall security of the system.