A faux pas by the government officers in President Pratibha Devisingh Patil’s address to the joint session of the Parliament has resulted in red faces in the government.
Patil — who read her speech in Hindi — said the unique identity number would be given to all citizens though the government’s stated policy is that every resident would be given the unique number. The English version, however, said the card was for all residents.
The Unique identity would leave out lakhs of people under its coverage if the unique number is restricted to citizens, as they would have to produce documentary evidence of their citizenship.
Incidentally, the President’s two addresses to Parliament last year — it is drafted by the government unlike her address to the nation on the eve of Republic Day and Independence Day — last year had switched between a citizen and resident. The government had then clarified that all residents, not just citizens, would be entitled.
The UIDAI was constituted to develop and implement necessary legal, technical and institutional infrastructure to issue unique identity cards to Indian residents. On June 25 last year, the Cabinet approved the creation of the position of the Chairperson of the UIDAI and appointed Nandan Nilekani as its first chairperson.