Category: Global Economy

Feb 04

666: Mark of the Beast Update

India’s ID plan: An end to its inept bureaucracy or an Orwellian nightmare?

Eric Randolph

Sceptics of eye scans have raised fears about identity theft, saying a good quality camera could capture an image of the iris. But for this man joining the UIN in Bhopal, India, recently, it was a scheme worth looking into.

NEW DELHI // A plan to provide each of India’s 1.2 billion citizens with a unique identification number has been praised as an essential programme to impose some efficiency on India’s infamously inept bureaucracy.

But its opponents have said it is ripe for abuse. The government could use it to spy on its citizens and criminals could steal the data and create false identities.

Since the plan was launched in mid-2010, about 110 million Indians have queued up at data-processing centres across the country to have their irises scanned and their fingerprints recorded.

The unique identification (UID) number that arrives in the post a couple of months later can then be used to apply for welfare benefits and set up a bank account, without the endless form-filling and bribe-giving, which often goes along with proving your existence in India.

Headed by the respected former chairman of IT giant Infosys, Nandan Nilekani, the scheme has been a model of unusual government efficiency.

But the programme is now under threat from the Home Ministry, which has its own biometric database.

It collects not only fingerprints and irises, but also sensitive information such as caste and religion, which it wants to use for security purposes.

A turf war between the Home Ministry and the UID Authority led to a compromise last week. The agencies agreed to share their data to avoid duplication. That allowed Mr Nilekani to collect another 400 million people on to his database. The government is providing more than US$1.5 billion (Dh5.5bn) to merge the databases.

The deal is a boon for the Home Ministry, since it has only registered about 8 million citizens on its National Population Register (NPR).

It is unclear how all this information will be stored and shared, but it has done nothing to allay the fears of activists who foresaw the UID scheme turning into an Orwellian nightmare that could target, rather than help, India’s poorest citizens.

“These schemes are changing the relationship between the citizen and the state,” said Usha Ramanathan, an independent legal researcher and an opponent of UID.

“In the current climate, many of the poor don’t want to be identified because they will be subject to harassment.”

The paranoia is not entirely misplaced. The NPR emerged out of a scheme in the early 1990s to identify illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. More than 40,000 Bengali-speakers were later deported within a three-year period.

Many fear that the new data will be similarly used by parties – such as the ultra-right-wing Shiv Sena in Mumbai – that want to identify and remove migrant labourers from other states.

UID supporters said these concerns could be addressed through legal protections, and should not overshadow its work in streamlining welfare delivery.

One of the UID programme’s main tasks will be to cut out the millions of “ghost workers” that exist only on paper and allow contractors to siphon off extra money from the government.

Harsh V Pant

Payments for programmes such as the employment guarantee scheme – which provides 100 days of work to every adult in rural areas – are already starting to bypass middle men and go straight into verified bank accounts.

It is also expected to provide a “portable identity” for internal migrants, who often find it impossible to open bank accounts or receive welfare benefits outside of their home state.

“In a country where so many people are moving for short-term work or long-term relocation, we have not had a method by which people can take their identity with them,” said Pronab Sen, principal adviser at the government’s planning commission.

“Providing these people with public services has always been a problem. That’s where the UID will be essential.”

But much of its success depends on untested methods and technology. There are immediate practical concerns, with technicians reporting widespread difficulties in reading the worn-down fingerprints of manual labourers and the cataract-blocked irises of elderly citizens. Experts also said that without a proper design, the scheme could prove far less secure than its proponents imagine.

“All it would take to steal someone’s biometric identity is a photograph taken with a high-resolution camera or a fingerprint off a glass,” said Sunil Abraham, of the Centre for internet and Security in Bangalore.

“And once your biometric identity has been compromised, there is no way of re-securing it without surgery.”

He points to the recent incident in which several thousand Israeli biometric identities were leaked on to the internet by Saudi hackers. Stolen identities could be used to frame individuals for crimes or set up bank accounts for money laundering.

“I can see a situation in which a black market for biometric identities emerges,” said Mr Abraham.

Many in parliament share these concerns. Last month, the standing committee on finance rejected a proposed bill that required certain legal protections for people in the UID database.

The committee concluded that the standards were drafted with “no clarity of purpose and leaving many things to be sorted out during the course of its implementation … [it has been] implemented in a directionless way with a lot of confusion”.

Mr Nilekani said he will assess the committee’s concerns. “We will review the security concerns in the next six to eight weeks,” he said last week.

But with trust in the government at an all-time low in India, he will have a lot of convincing to do before his opponents back down.

“Every attempt at regulation in this country has failed,” said Ms Ramanathan. “They say this data will not be abused, but how can we believe them?”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3034

Nov 27

What comes next after economy falls

The economic crisis across Europe has made it clear that the European Union isn’t meeting today’s economic realities, a condition that promises to have a global impact on other economies, including that of the United States, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The economic crisis is growing worse as central European bank lending to such countries as Italy, Greece and Spain now has dwindled to a trickle because investors are backing away from funding the region’s lenders.

There isn’t enough capital on hand to finance debt which is due to mature next year. Analysts believe there need to be dramatic changes in the structure of the EU if it is to survive.

They add that the EU is at the stage now where it needs to change to a more centralized parliament representing the respective members, who will have to give up some national sovereignty to create what amounts to a United States of Europe.

“The old EU is finished,” said one informed regional observer. “The 27-member bloc has never been as unpopular as it is today.”

As it now stands, the old EU is made up of countries whose parliaments can dictate the limits of their participation. They’ve seen how some countries in southern Europe with fewer resources and spiraling debt are forcing the more productive countries of northern Europe to help bail out the less fortunate ones, without any requirement for the southern countries to implement belt-tightening measures needed to help themselves recover from their own economic downturn.

As a consequence, the richer, northern countries such as Germany are dictating terms to such southern countries as Greece and Italy on belt-tightening measures needed to receive further bailout money.

Given the level of interdependence by countries now, it is too late to recede to a more isolated position. In fact, these experts say the thinking is toward “more Europe” with expanded powers and a “real government.” These analysts say that Europe today is where the U.S. was as a confederation prior to 1787 when the U.S. Constitution gave the U.S. a federal system.

Then, the confederation was comprised of 13 sovereign states with a Congress having certain powers in foreign affairs, to borrow money, deliver mail and control Indian affairs.

However, Congress then didn’t have the power to enforce its requests to states for money or troops until the 13 states ratified the U.S. Constitution.

Various analysts’ views are reflected in the concept put forward by Charles Grant of the Center for European Reform. He envisions a democratically united Europe in which citizens of the various countries vote directly for European commissioners, much like the U.S. does now in electing its representatives for the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2759

Oct 26

Vatican Calls for Global Government

The Vatican called on Monday for the establishment of a “global public authority” and a “central world bank” to rule over financial institutions that have become outdated and often ineffective in dealing fairly with crises.

A major document from the Vatican’s Justice and Peace department should be music to the ears of the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators and similar movements around the world who have protested against the economic downturn.

The 18-page document, “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority,” was at times very specific, calling, for example, for taxation measures on financial transactions.

“The economic and financial crisis which the world is going through calls everyone, individuals and peoples, to examine in depth the principles and the cultural and moral values at the basis of social coexistence,” it said.

It condemned what it called “the idolatry of the market” as well as a “neo-liberal thinking” that it said looked exclusively at technical solutions to economic problems.

“In fact, the crisis has revealed behaviours like selfishness, collective greed and hoarding of goods on a great scale,” it said, adding that world economics needed an “ethic of solidarity” among rich and poor nations.

“If no solutions are found to the various forms of injustice, the negative effects that will follow on the social, political and economic level will be destined to create a climate of growing hostility and even violence, and ultimately undermine the very foundations of democratic institutions, even the ones considered most solid,” it said.

It called for the establishment of “a supranational authority” with worldwide scope and “universal jurisdiction” to guide economic policies and decisions.

Such an authority should start with the United Nations as its reference point but later become independent and be endowed with the power to see to it that developed countries were not allowed to wield “excessive power over the weaker countries”.

EFFECTIVE STRUCTURES

In a section explaining why the Vatican felt the reform of the global economy was necessary, the document said:

“In economic and financial matters, the most significant difficulties come from the lack of an effective set of structures that can guarantee, in addition to a system of governance, a system of government for the economy and international finance.”

It said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) no longer had the power or ability to stabilise world finance by regulating overall money supply and it was no longer able to watch “over the amount of credit risk taken on by the system.”

The world needed a “minimum shared body of rules to manage the global financial market” and “some form of global monetary management”.

“In fact, one can see an emerging requirement for a body that will carry out the functions of a kind of ‘central world bank’ that regulates the flow and system of monetary exchanges similar to the national central banks,” it said.

The document, which was being presented at a news conference later on Monday, acknowledged that such change would take years to put into place and was bound to encounter resistance.

“Of course, this transformation will be made at the cost of a gradual, balanced transfer of a part of each nation’s powers to a world authority and to regional authorities, but this is necessary at a time when the dynamism of human society and the economy and the progress of technology are transcending borders, which are in fact already very eroded in a globalised world.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2635

Aug 05

Be Prepared

While it can mean many things to be prepared, this article I am attaching is talking about being prepared for a collapse of our and the world’s economy. While believers in Christ will be Raptured out beofre the Tribulation it does not mean that we will not experience tough times while we are still here occupying for our Lord.

So get your spiritual house in order, get your phyiscal house in order and be prepared. Do not be found like the 5 follosih virgins in Matthew 25 unprepared.

Enjoy the article. Keep looking up!

Like Chickens Running With Their Heads Cut Of1

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1818