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Indian citizens to get unique IDs

Thursday 24 September 2009

The objective of the new system is to be a national proof of identity, effective for everything, from welfare benefits to updating land records. In India, for the time being, 80 million income tax payers possess a Permanent Account Number (PAN), some 200 million people are account holders in public and private banks, some 500 million are mobile phone consumers and over 600 million Indians have election cards. Of course, there is a considerable overlap between these databases, but no one is able to evaluate it yet. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will be in charge of establishing the UID number database, but also look at the database of Indian passport holders, public distribution system cards for food for the poor, and the list of cooking gas consumers in the country. The project's main technology centre will be based in Bangalore, with eight regional centers working with the various states. The UIDAI will partner with multiple registrars like states(food supplies like Ration shops, Panchayat and Education), oil ministry (LPG agencies, oil companies), health insurance( Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY)) and banks.

The Universal Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had defined 12 parameters of data that will be used for India’s Unique ID (UID) : name
, UID number
, photograph, right hand forefinger print
, name of father, UID of father, name of mother, UID of mother, date of birth, sex, place of birth, address. Biometric technologies will enable Unique Identification Authority of India to uniquely identify a person. Data will be captured at the point of enrolment and a de-duplication check simply means that a given packet of biometrics is run against the entire database to see if there is any person in the database with those biometrics and reject it if it is saying that he/she is already there on some other number or name.

The unique number will not be an identity card - instead, the number will be included in documents like election identity cards, PAN cards and bank account numbers. In fact, users of UID database such as government agencies, banks, insurance agencies etc. may choose to issue cards that use the UID database for authentication.

The scheme is the brainchild of Nandan Nilekani, one of India's best-known software tycoons and now head of the government's Unique Identification Authority. "We are going to have to build something on the scale of Google but it will change the country … every person for first time will be able to prove who he or she was."