A government project to give each resident a unique 16-digit identity number on Monday got a new name, Aadhaar (foundation), and logo.
“UID (unique identification) is confusing. People call it different names; some DUI, some IUD,” said Unique Identification Authority of India chairperson Nandan Nilekani. “Aadhaar would mean foundation to access public services. It is a common word in many languages.”
Nilekani said Aadhaar will not only give India’s citizens a unique identity but also plug leaks in the public distribution system (PDS), which cost the Centre Rs 72,000 crore a year in food subsidies. “The UID can reform the PDS,” he told HT.
Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia had last week asked the Authority to help revamp the PDS for the proposed food security law, after finding that only 40 per cent of foodgrains under PDS reach intended beneficiaries. “It is early days to say how leakages can be plugged. We are working on it,” he said.
Karnataka — which will be one of the first states to implement Aadhaar — estimates a saving of 45 crore per month by giving PDS beneficiaries a unique number. It plans to make the number mandatory for access to PDS grains, admission in schools or to avail any government service. At the national level, though, seeking such a number will be voluntary.