NEW DELHI: A single random number will establish your identity. It will carry no “intelligence” but do away with use of ration cards, passports and driving licences as ID proofs. It could save Rs 20,000 crore by eliminating fake and duplicate identities under various government schemes.
In a presentation to the PM’s council on the unique identity project, its chairman Nandan Nilekani said the authority would aim to provide 600 million people, or about half the population, ID numbers in four years. The first UIDs will be issued in 12-18 months. Though covered by a legal framework, it would not be mandatory to have a unique ID number.
The Council “in principle” approved the draft strategy and though UIDs will not be mandatory, the IDs would ultimately be made compulsory by implementing agencies of various schemes. People would require ID numbers as benefits may be mandatorily linked to numbers.
With the authority offering a strong online authentication where agencies can compare demographic and biometric information, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the council that the government attaches high priority to the project. Lack of ID proof results in harassment and denial of services. It would specifically improve delivery of flagship schemes.
It also argued that once numbers are rolled out, the internal security scenario in the country will improve as tracking of crime and criminals will become easier. Similarly, it will help banks to increase their revenues
The Council decided that ministries, departments and other associated agencies having a public interface will provide databases to the UID authority to facilitate rolling out of the numbers. Authentication of this data will be done through biometrics.
Counting on the sheer utility of such a number, the authority feels that the demand-driven scheme will find ready takers. It will network with major registrars like the NREGA, PDS and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, to provide accurate information of beneficiaries and nip fraudulent claims. Nilekani informed the Council that new PAN cards can be linked to UID numbers. Every year approximately one million PAN cards are issued.
The ID will not be a card, but just a number issued to a “resident of India”, a defination that means that it is not proof of citizenship. This allows the authority to skirt around the politically sensitive issue of identifying non-citizens like Bangladeshis, but on the other hand its processes might make it difficult for a non-Indian to get hold of a unique ID number.
The data base maintained by the authority will contain, for the first time, biometric information by way of a fingerprint. The central data base will have your name, the names of your parents, their UID numbers, an expiry date and a photograpgh. The authority will answer queries about identity in a yes or no format while agencies utilising the facility can store data only if authorised to do so.
Since the UID data will be carefully validated by a technology-driven system, it is not expected to suffer from deficiencies caused by people providing differing personal information while applying for say a ration card and a driving licence or even re-applying for the same document multiple times. The scheme, it is hoped, could stem losses like the Rs 1,200 crore estimated to be siphoned off by way of duplicate or ghost identities.
The authority will regularly update information and its data will provide the government a clearer picture of India’s population. It is envisaged that central, state and private agencies will partner the UIDA and will process UID applications, connect to the central facility to “re-duplicate” resident resident information and issue numbers.
The UID chief informed the Council that he had held parleys with home minister P Chidambaram, Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla and RBI Governor D Subbarao to source data from their organisations.
Interestingly, residents below 16 years of age will also have biometric details of their parents. The system will be developed in a way, which automatically converts their UID numbers independent of their parents once they become majors.
* Unique ID number will not be proof of citizenship, but will verify identity. It will help clean up delivery of social sector services and subsidies.
* It will help verify IDs for accessing loans, verifying documents. The numbers will help do away with duplication and fake person information.
* It will not be a card but a random number which will link to data base which will store biometric information like fingerprints. It will have a photo too.
* UID authority may not use Election Commission data as it is not fully verifiable. But it will partner central and state agencies to collect and process data.
*Tech systems will have a major role across the UID structure. Data will be stored in a central server and authentication of residents will be online.