Today I got the chance to listen to the honorable Dr. Nandan Nilekani, Chairmain, Unique Identification Authority of India. Dr. Nilekani, an IIT Bombay alumnus, is the co-founder of the 2nd largest Indian IT services provider, Infosys. During his tenure with Infosys he served various roles from Managing Director to Chief Executive Officer and also was on Board of Directors of Infosys. In July 2009, he joined the Government of India for the execution of one of most ambitious projects, allocating Unique Identification Number to every Indian Residents. This 16 digit unique number will be given to every Indian resident and not only to Indian citizen. And this number doesn’t confer any citizenship or any special rights.
Today at a large conference in Ahmedabad, Dr. Nilekani discussed the various issues involved with this project and also the challenges to be faced in future. Here are the major highlights of the speech given by him:
- A unique number will be issued to every Indian resident, not a card. It will not be same as a passport or Driving License (The requirements to be fulfilled for being an Indian resident will be uploaded in the website http://uidai.gov.in/).
- The biggest challenge is to allocate only one and unique number to around 1.2 billion people living in India, as the existing system has lot of duplicity and ghost ids. (India has more number of ration cards issued than the number of households).
- Each person name will be associated with a biometric scan (finger print) along with a photo.
- When a new entry is made into the database, existing database will be checked to stop the duplicity of the same name.
- The database of each person will contain Name, UID Number, Sex, DOB, Photo, Address and Finger print. This database will be accessed by that person only and no one else.
- As the database will be huge and have information about all the Indian residents, so security is a big issue to be handled.
Now the question in front of everyone is how the government will reach to each and every resident of India, where we have more than 6 lakhs villages all over country? How the government will ensure the inclusiveness of needy and poor people? Dr. Nilekani answered all the questions that this will be collaborative efforts between all the state governments and various partners and agencies like SBI, LIC, Passport dept, Income Tax dept etc in the country. He also said that if the project is to be started from scratch, then it will almost 15-20 years to complete the project. Government will start issuing Unique Identification numbers from August 2011 onwards and has a target of at least 600 million registrations in next five years.
How the Unique ID project will work, what database will be uses, the use of biometrics, doing away with duplicates and how project will have broad urban and rural reach. Also, how UID will help banks?
Will UID ensure privacy is protected? By when will ‘UID for all’ be realised?
How the unique identity project will help govt pass benefits to the people, on the experience of heading a govt project and how business will be generated through UID?