Nandan Nilekani’s unique identification project is yet to take-off fully in India but it has created an international buzz.
Countries from across the globe have shown interest in the project now world’s largest biometric database of 13 crore people as against 11.4 crore of US’s immigration department. But, only four crore Indians have got their Aadhaar numbers because of postal department’s constraints in its dispatch.
R S Sharma, director-general of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said collecting biometric details of over a billion people for just three US dollars (Rs 150) per person is unimaginable for many. Biometric collection of residents in United Kingdom costed 130 Euro (Rs 8,500) per person.
“The magnitude and its flawlessness have caught their attention. They now say biometric collection has three phases. Pre 9/11 (terror strike in US), post 9/11 and post UIDAI,” Sharma, an Indian Administrative Service official and a pass-out of IIT Kanpur in 1976, told HT.
The UIDAI is a government body mandated with the task of assigning a 12 digit unique number to every India resident over five years of age by mid of 2013. Biometric details of half of India’s population will be enrolled by UIDAI and rest by Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR)
The global fervor has also translated into action.
The UIDAI is assisting the government of Papua New Guinea, a small island nation in Pacific Ocean close to Australia, to establish a national identity scheme.
Two UIDAI officials, B B Nanawati, deputy director general and Anup Kumar, additional director general, spent a week in the island nation in this January to guide the country’s national government to provide biometric identity to its seven million residents living in hundreds of islands. The UIDAI has enrolled a million people in India every day.
The authority had also provided inputs to another island nation Mauritius in the Indian Ocean on enrolment for getting unique identification number (UID) or an Aadhaar and advised Australia on how to unique number can help in tracking migration.
The UIDAI had also made presentation on India’s modern development initiative to government functionaries from Indonesia, France and Columbia.