The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-driven decision to appoint corporate India’s icon Nandan Nilekani as head of the Unique Identification Authority of India is aimed at giving a hard push to a project that has failed to take off for quite some time.
Nilekani’s primary job would be to make sure that the groundwork is complete when census enumerators go on a headcount in 2011.
The project, estimated to cost nearly Rs. 1,990 crore over the next three-four years, is expected to deliver a unique identification number to each of India’s billion-plus population.
The NDA government, too, had launched the experimental version of the unique identity number (UID) — the Multi-Purpose National Identity Card in 2003 — but the project largely identified citizens from non-citizens.
There was growing realisation within the government to fast track it to improve the service delivery model.
“The UID number would, in the first instance, be issued to registered voters by building on the current electoral database and progressively add other persons,” an official at the planning commission — under which the authority would function —said.
“Backed by use of technology, the comprehensiveness of the database would be perfected,” said the official, who did not want to be named.
In its final form, the database would give planners and administrators a ready list of people across different parameters that would help in targeted delivery of services and subsidies, the official said.
“For instance, this database would give us the number of people under the poverty line in a district, sub-division or a block, according to the public services that they are using and how much,” the official said.