Nine months after leaving the posh corporate job to join the government as head of Unique Identification Authority, Nandan Nilekani is all set to roll out first set of unique numbers after August this year. In an interview with Chetan Chauhan, he speaks about benefits of UID in governance and how it will help in financial exclusion of the poor.
What was the need for collecting three different biometrics for every person.
For a population of over one billion, uniqueness of the biometric data is important. It is only then a unique number can be allocated to each resident. Only if all the 10 hand fingers, face impression and two iris is taken, the UID would become a unique biometric data. Iris in biometric will increase accuracy and can ensure children above the age of five can also get a unique identification number.
There is an issue of privacy as UID data will be used by different agencies.
Our data will not be shared with anyone. At the time of authentication of a UID, our reply only will be in Yes or No. We will not provide details of the person. As a policy, we support a privacy framework for the country.
You have said that UID can improve financial inclusion. How would this work?
The UID can help in bringing over 60 per cent of Indians, who don't have accounts, into the banking system. It can help the government in framing policy on micro payment to poor people as one would be able to deposit or withdraw small amounts even from a local ration shop with the help of finger print compatible mobile phones. We have come up with a new document (From Exclusion to Inclusion with Micropayments) on how the banks with the help of UID can open no frill accounts by reducing documentation required. The UID's know your resident would be sufficient for the banks to open accounts.
How will UID and National Population Register (NPR) converge?
NPR is a massive effort by Registrar General of India to collect data on all residents. No other agency will be collecting data on them. NPR will act as registry of residents for UID like any other agency. NPR will follow our biometric standard so that there is no duplication of work.