Only 73 of the Lok Sabha's 545 members were present as the lower house passed the controversial Aadhaar (Target Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill on Friday.
With the passage of the bill, the government or any "requesting entity", including a private company, could ask an individual to produce the biometrics-ID Aadhaar card to avail any subsidy, benefit, or service. Critics have expressed concerns over citizens' biometric data ‒ such as fingerprints and iris scans ‒ being collected on a mass scale in the absence of a privacy law.
The listing of the Bill on Friday was unusual because, ordinarily, private members' business (bills and resolutions) are taken up before the weekend. The House was relatively empty because several members had already left for their constituencies.
The process was also noteworthy because this was moved as a money Bill, which does not have to be approved by the Rajya Sabha. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance lacks a majority in the upper house.
As critics pointed out, money Bills relate broadly to taxes or spending from the Treasury. But the government argued that the Aadhaar Bill qualified as one because it deals with expenditure incurred from the government Treasury. Legal experts pointed out that by this token, most Bills on health, education, railways, transport, agriculture could qualify as money Bills. This strategy, they said, would reduce the Rajya Sabha simply to a rubber stamp on any legislation.
On Friday, the Bill was discussed only three hours.
As the BJP moved the legislation, several members, including those from the Congress, the Biju Janata Dal, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, objected to the decision to classify this as a money Bill and suggested that it be sent to a standing committee.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified some clauses of the Bill. He claimed that biometric data would not be shared under any circumstances. But the Bill actually allows for this data to shared with a joint secretary of the government in the interests of "national security".
BJD MP Tathagath Satpathy had moved several amendments, including on clause 33(1) which permits disclosure of an individual's data on an order by a district judge. Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy had also moved amendments but was not present in the parliament. However, ruling party MPs opposed all amendments by voice vote.
Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had earlier stated that the Congress would cooperate with the government on Aadhaar, but objected to the Bill being introduced as a money Bill.
Modern home design trends that are radically changing living spaces in India
From structure to finishes, modern homes embody lifestyle.
Homes in India are evolving to become works of art as home owners look to express their taste and lifestyle through design. It’s no surprise that global home design platform Houzz saw over a million visitors every month from India, even before their services were locally available. Architects and homeowners are spending enormous time and effort over structural elements as well as interior features, to create beautiful and comfortable living spaces.
Here’s a look at the top trends that are altering and enhancing home spaces in India.
Cantilevers. A cantilever is a rigid structural element like a beam or slab that protrudes horizontally out of the main structure of a building. The cantilevered structure almost seems to float on air. While small balconies of such type have existed for eons, construction technology has now enabled large cantilevers, that can even become large rooms. A cantilever allows for glass facades on multiple sides, bringing in more sunlight and garden views. It works wonderfully to enhance spectacular views especially in hill or seaside homes. The space below the cantilever can be transformed to a semi-covered garden, porch or a sit-out deck. Cantilevers also help conserve ground space, for lawns or backyards, while enabling more built-up area. Cantilevers need to be designed and constructed carefully else the structure could be unstable and lead to floor vibrations.
Butterfly roofs. Roofs don’t need to be flat - in fact roof design can completely alter the size and feel of the space inside. A butterfly roof is a dramatic roof arrangement shaped, as the name suggests, like a butterfly. It is an inverted version of the typical sloping roof - two roof surfaces slope downwards from opposing edges to join around the middle in the shape of a mild V. This creates more height inside the house and allows for high windows which let in more light. On the inside, the sloping ceiling can be covered in wood, aluminium or metal to make it look stylish. The butterfly roof is less common and is sure to add uniqueness to your home. Leading Indian architecture firms, Sameep Padora’s sP+a and Khosla Associates, have used this style to craft some stunning homes and commercial projects. The Butterfly roof was first used by Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect who later designed the city of Chandigarh, in his design of the Maison Errazuriz, a vacation house in Chile in 1930.
Skylights. Designing a home to allow natural light in is always preferred. However, spaces, surrounding environment and privacy issues don’t always allow for large enough windows. Skylights are essentially windows in the roof, though they can take a variety of forms. A well-positioned skylight can fill a room with natural light and make a huge difference to small rooms as well as large living areas. However, skylights must be intelligently designed to suit the climate and the room. Skylights facing north, if on a sloping roof, will bring in soft light, while a skylight on a flat roof will bring in sharp glare in the afternoons. In the Indian climate, a skylight will definitely reduce the need for artificial lighting but could also increase the need for air-conditioning during the warm months. Apart from this cleaning a skylight requires some effort. Nevertheless, a skylight is a very stylish addition to a home, and one that has huge practical value.
Staircases. Staircases are no longer just functional. In modern houses, staircases are being designed as aesthetic elements in themselves, sometimes even taking the centre-stage. While the form and material depend significantly on practical considerations, there are several trendy options. Floating staircases are hugely popular in modern, minimalist homes and add lightness to a normally heavy structure. Materials like glass, wood, metal and even coloured acrylic are being used in staircases. Additionally, spaces under staircases are being creatively used for storage or home accents.
Exposed Brick Walls. Brickwork is traditionally covered with plaster and painted. However, ‘exposed’ bricks, that is un-plastered masonry, is becoming popular in homes, restaurants and cafes. It adds a rustic and earthy feel. Exposed brick surfaces can be used in home interiors, on select walls or throughout, as well as exteriors. Exposed bricks need to be treated to be moisture proof. They are also prone to gathering dust and mould, making regular cleaning a must.
Cement work. Don’t underestimate cement and concrete when it comes to design potential. Exposed concrete interiors, like exposed brick, are becoming very popular. The design philosophy is ‘Less is more’ - the structure is simplistic and pops of colour are added through furniture and soft furnishings.
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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Birla Gold Premium Cement and not by the Scroll editorial team.