The Narendra Modi led NDA government is considering to provide Aadhaar — the 12-digit biometric identity number presently being issued to all residents living in India -- to Non Resident Indians (NRI) as well.
Aadhaar number is recognized as proof of identity and is increasingly being considered a valid document to avail several public services. And this is the probable reason the government wants to provide the number to non-resident Indians.
Government officials told HT that at a meeting held on June 18 at the Prime Minister’s Office, Modi told officials of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the nodal agency implementing the Aadhaar project, to look into issuing the unique identity number to NRIs.
Officials said the suggestion to give Aadhaar to NRIs was first brought up at the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas meet held in Gujarat in January this year.
“With many government institutions insisting on Aadhaar card as a proof of identity, there has been a demand from the NRI community for quite some time now to be given the unique number. Having it can help them avail services such as opening a bank account in India without much hassle,” said a government official.
Another official said, “It could also help NRIs who are buying/ selling property in India. Many states including Delhi have made Aadhaar card one of the mandatory documents for land transactions.”
According to the ministry of overseas Indian affairs, the estimated population of NRIs as on January is 11.3 million.
However, officials said that unlike the present OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) cards that NRIs have, which give them benefits like life-long visa among others, an Aadhaar card will only be a proof of identity.
At the June 18 meeting, the Prime Minister also agreed to requests to extend the deadline for making Aadhaar universal by December 2015.
The original deadline was June 30. As of Friday, 883 million people in India have been given Aadhaar numbers.
The unique identification card project was started in 2011; almost a year after the UPA government conceived the plan.