The ambitious scheme of providing unique identity number to the citizens of the country, Aadhaar, has been launched at the hands of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at a special function at Shahada in the tribal district of Nandurbar in Maharashtra few days back.Under the Aadhaar scheme, a 12-digit unique number is to be provided to every citizen of the country. It is aimed at ensuring that the citizens get more efficient access to national schemes The programme being overseen by the Unique Identity Development Authority of India (UI DAI ) aims to establish a cost-effective, ubiquitous authentication infrastructure to easily verify these identities online and in real-time.
The national launch of Aadhaar heralds a new chapter in the efforts of the Government in
enabling inclusive growth and bringing in greater efficiency and transparency in governance.
The enrolment process is now set to begin in all the states and union territories. I t would lead
to generation and issuance of Aadhaar numbers based on the demographic and biometric data
including finger prints and iris scan. This data would help agencies and service providers across
India clean out duplicates and fakes from their databases. The elimination of duplicate, ghost
and fake identities across various schemes would in turn substantially improve the efficiency of
the delivery systems and reach the benefits to the right people.
It would now be interesting to know how Aadhaar scheme is going to be implemented at
the field level. The cities, towns and villages across I ndia witness enrolment officials, who set
up enrolment stations in different parts of the state, armed with the brand new UI D kit. The
kit consists of eight essential items packed into two medium-size suitcases—an iris scanner, a
fingerprint machine, a camera, a laptop, a computer screen linked to the laptop, an I nternet
data card/pipe, a memory stick and a printer. The laptop contains a bi-lingual software (English
and the local language) that runs the whole ID process. The software links to the iris machine,
fingerprint machine and the camera, recording biometric data and a photograph. The second
computer screen is purely for the client, who in the interest of complete transparency, can
watch exactly what is being recorded. The software contains a transliteration device so that
data entries like name, address etc need be typed in only one language. There is automatic
translation to the other language.
Eventually, the data is transmitted to the UI DAI database via a broadband pipe over the
internet, or alternatively through a memory stick. There is a de-duplication process at the
centralized database after which an unique I D number is issued. The client gets a printout of
the details at the end of the process.
There is a four-tier structure that governs the actual handing out of UI D numbers. At
the Centre, there is the UI DAI , which is responsible for coordinating the whole exercise. The
UI DAI will certify all the technology used across the country and will hand out numbers from
its centralised database. Operationally, it is the state governments that will take charge of the
project on the ground.
At the third level, the state governments will work with authorised registrars who actually
need the UI D data for a particular purpose and at the fourth level, there are the enrolment
agencies which can be either privately or publicly owned, or even NGOs that will actually
collect the data. At the moment, the UI DAI has empanelled 220 enrolment agencies across the
The unique identification number (UI D) will be a 'number for life' for millions of I ndians
who are now excluded from access to public schemes. The domestic movement within the
country is slated to escalate due to development and climate change that would drive migration.
Due to lack of identity proof, 100 million people are unable to avail public schemes. I t is here the
unique identification number will make a difference as it will be the 'number for life' for them.
Sunil Dabir and Umesh Ujgare, AIR NEWS, Mumbai