Modi government to give Aadhaar a new boss | india | Hindustan Times
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Modi government to give Aadhaar a new boss

india Updated: Jul 31, 2014 20:27 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The Centre has decided to name a new director general for Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), or Aadhaar, in yet another signal of its commitment to continue with the previous government's flagship programme.

Government sources say the NDA has decided to put pragmatism over politics after initially appearing keen on purging the UPA's pet project that aims to provide every Indian resident a 12-digit unique identity number.

At a recent meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked Aadhaar representatives to link social-sector schemes with the unique ID numbers for plugging leakages and increasing accountability of officials.

An Indian Administrative Service (IAS) official is likely to replace incumbent Vijay Madan for implementing Modi's call to generate one billion Aadhaar numbers by the end of 2014.

About 650 million Aadhaar numbers have been created in the last two years, but enrolment has slowed after the National Democratic Alliance coming to power at the Centre.

Sources say the new DG will directly report to the prime minister's office on the registration of citizens and extension of Aadhaar-enabled services.

Sources also said the government was not very keen on appointing a new UIDAI chairman in place of technocrat-turned-Congress politician Nandan Nilekani, whose tenure ended with the UPA government's term. "A DG who reports directly to the PMO is a better idea," an official told HT.

UIDAI got a new lease of life when Nilekani met Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley earlier this month and made a presentation on why the Aadhaar project was important for India.

Both Modi and Jaitley agreed that UIDAI could help the Centre plug leaks that lead to wastage of about 20% of the government's annual social sector spending of Rs 2,00,000 crore.

Around 300 million people in India have no official identification documents, according to UIDAI. This prevents them from opening bank accounts and finding formal employment.