Home Minister Amit Shah says unique multi-purpose identity card is a possibility
India could have a single multi-purpose unique card that will serve as an identity card and double up as a voter card, PAN and even a passport, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Monday, a signal that the government could revive a plan conceived by former deputy prime minister LK Advani.
“We do not have a scheme to introduce a multi-purpose identity cards but this a possibility, “ Shah said at a function to lay the foundation stone for a new building in New Delhi to house the Registrar General of India (RGI).
A plan to issue identity cards, a much-watered down version of Advani’s plan, had been on the table till a few years back when the National Population Register was on top of the government’s priority. But the home ministry’s population register lost out of Aadhaar as the primary database of residents when the BJP-led NDA government came to power in 2014.
Watch: Amit Shah talks digital census in 2021, floats multipurpose ID card idea
Amit Shah’s announcement of a multi-purpose ID card and his many statements promising an Assam-like citizens list renews the possibility that the population register could be revived.
The law to enable a citizens’ register is already in place. The Citizenship Act empowers the Centre to compulsorily register every citizen and issue multi-purpose national identity cards.
To activate this plan, the government would first create a population register and in the second stage, ask people in this register to establish their citizenship.
According to the government, the population register would serve as the mother database for creating the National Register of Indian Citizens by verifying the citizenship status of each and every resident.
The Home Minister did not get into the mechanics of the population register or the ID card but only made fleeting references to some of the distinct advantages.
The national register which would list individuals according to their residence, Home Minister Amit Shah said, “will help in law and order, controlling crime and for development scheme.
Amit Shah also floated the idea of automatically linking “Birth and Death register with the voters roll. “Why can’t we link the two and ensure that voters list is automatically updated?” Shah asked.
Underlining the importance of data in shaping welfare measures and policy, Shah said: “In 2014 we started thinking differently. The 2011 census was used for Ujawala Scheme - under which gas cylinders were given at subsidized rate to families below the poverty line. Our government used the data to understand who all need Gas Cylinders and where they were living. We made a digital map using the 2011 Census to work out the Ujawala scheme. “As may 21 welfare schemes will be depend on the Census, the Union Home Minister said.
Addressing the event, Registrar General of India Vivek Joshi said the result of the 2021 would be available almost immediately. The 2021 census - a pen and paper census - took almost seven years to collect, analyse and release the data he said. In the pilot project “30 lakh people” were successful enumerated using the mobile application, he said.