Identity Project

Contentious Aadhaar Bill passed with only 73 of 545 members present in Lok Sabha

Ruling party overrules privacy concerns and adopts an unusual strategy to pass the legislation.

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.

Some clarifications

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.

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The incredible engineering that can save your life in a car crash

Indian roads are among the world’s most dangerous. We take a look at the essential car safety features for our road conditions.

Over 200,000 people die on India’s roads every year. While many of these accidents can be prevented by following road safety rules, car manufacturers are also devising innovative new technology to make vehicles safer than ever before. To understand how crucial this technology is to your safety, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a car accident.

Source: Global report on road safety, 2015 by WHO.
Source: Global report on road safety, 2015 by WHO.

A car crash typically has three stages. The first stage is where the car collides with an object. At the point of collision, the velocity with which the car is travelling gets absorbed within the car, which brings it to a halt. Car manufacturers have incorporated many advanced features in their cars to prevent their occupants from ever encountering this stage.

Sixth sense on wheels

To begin with, some state-of-the-art vehicles have fatigue detection systems that evaluate steering wheel movements along with other signals in the vehicle to indicate possible driver fatigue–one of the biggest causes of accidents. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is the other big innovation that can prevent collisions. ESP typically encompasses two safety systems–ABS (anti-lock braking system), and TCS (traction control system). Both work in tandem to help the driver control the car on tricky surfaces and in near-collision situations. ABS prevents wheels from locking during an emergency stop or on a slippery surface, and TCS prevents the wheels from spinning when accelerating by constantly monitoring the speed of the wheels.

Smarter bodies, safer passengers

In the event of an actual car crash, manufacturers have been redesigning the car body to offer optimal protection to passengers. A key element of newer car designs includes better crumple zones. These are regions which deform and absorb the impact of the crash before it reaches the occupants. Crumple zones are located in the front and rear of vehicles and some car manufacturers have also incorporated side impact bars that increase the stiffness of the doors and provide tougher resistance to crashes.

CRUMPLE ZONES: Invented in the 1950s, crumple zones are softer vehicle sections that surround a safety cell that houses passengers. In a crash, these zones deform and crumple to absorb the shock of the impact. In the visual, the safety cell is depicted in red, while the crumple zones of the car surround the safety cell.
CRUMPLE ZONES: Invented in the 1950s, crumple zones are softer vehicle sections that surround a safety cell that houses passengers. In a crash, these zones deform and crumple to absorb the shock of the impact. In the visual, the safety cell is depicted in red, while the crumple zones of the car surround the safety cell.

Post-collision technology

While engineers try to mitigate the effects of a crash in the first stage itself, there are also safe guards for the second stage, when after a collision the passengers are in danger of hitting the interiors of the car as it rapidly comes to a halt. The most effective of these post-crash safety engineering solutions is the seat belt that can reduce the risk of death by 50%.

In the third stage of an actual crash, the rapid deceleration and shock caused by the colliding vehicle can cause internal organ damage. Manufacturers have created airbags to reduce this risk. Airbags are installed in the front of the car and have crash sensors that activate and inflate it within 40 milliseconds. Many cars also have airbags integrated in the sides of the vehicles to protect from side impacts.

SEATBELTS: Wearing seatbelts first became mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970, and is now common across the world. Modern seatbelts absorb impact more efficiently, and are equipped with ‘pre-tensioners’ that pull the belt tight to prevent the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.
SEATBELTS: Wearing seatbelts first became mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970, and is now common across the world. Modern seatbelts absorb impact more efficiently, and are equipped with ‘pre-tensioners’ that pull the belt tight to prevent the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.

Safety first

In the West as well as in emerging markets like China, car accident related fatalities are much lower than in India. Following traffic rules and driving while fully alert remain the biggest insurance against mishaps, however it is also worthwhile to fully understand the new technologies that afford additional safety.

So the next time you’re out looking for a car, it may be a wise choice to pick an extra airbag over custom leather seats or a swanky music system. It may just save your life.

Equipped with state-of-the-art passenger protection systems like ESP and fatigue detection systems, along with high-quality airbags and seatbelts, all Volkswagen cars have the safety of passengers at the heart of their design. Watch Volkswagen customer stories and driver experiences that testify its superior German engineering, here.

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This article was produced on behalf of Volkswagen by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.

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