An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) headed by the External Affairs Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherji recently, approved the establishment of a Unique Identity Authority for all residents of the country.
The modalities of collation of the Unique Identity (UID) scheme has also been approved by the EGOM. The National Population Register proposed to be created by the Home Ministry through the Registrar General of the Census of India concurrently with the census 2011 in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Citizenship Act
EGOM approved UID Authority will be responsible for creating and maintaining the core database and to lay down all necessary procedures for issuance and usage of UID including arrangements for collection, validation and authentication of information, proper security of data, rules for sharing and access to information, safeguards to ensure adequate protection of privacy and all aspects related to all of these issues. Any agency, public or private, which deals with individuals and incorporates the UID number of each such individual in its databases, will be able to share information with other agencies which do likewise.
It has been decided that at the inception, the UID number will be assigned to all voters by building on current electoral roll data and progressively adding other persons including persons below 18 years of age who are not a part of the voters list in the country. Over a period of time, through failsafe procedures backed by intensive use of technology and with the help of multiple government agencies, the currency and comprehensiveness of the database will be perfected. The scheme is designed to leverage intensive usage of the UID for multiple purposes to provide an efficient and convenient mechanism to update information. Photographs and biometric data will be added progressively to make the identification foolproof. Easy registration and information change procedures are envisaged for the benefit of the people.
The Unique Identity Project seeks to assign a unique identity (UID) number to each individual in the country that would remain a permanent identifier right from birth to death of the individual. From the point of view of any person in the country, the UID offers many benefits. First and foremost, it would obviate the need for a person to produce multiple documentary proofs of his identity for availing of any government service, or private services like opening of a bank account, etc. This would end needless harassment that people face for availing of basic government services like issuance of passports, driving licences, Electoral Identity Cards, etc. Backed by intensive use of technology, it would greatly facilitate easy verification of a person's identity and enable a single communication to trigger address changes in all relevant agencies records. It would also serve as the basis for many e-governance services incorporating online verification of a person's identity. UID would enable government to ensure that benefits under various welfare programmes reach the intended beneficiaries, prevent cornering of benefits by a few people and minimize frauds. It would enable financial institutions to exchange information regarding defaulters and encourage responsible borrower behaviour.
It is further expected that usage of UID will be progressively extended to various government programmes and regulatory agencies, as well as private sector agencies in the banking, financial services, mobile telephony and other such areas. Over a period of time, the UID is expected to become the single universal identification mechanism across all institutions of the government and the private sector in the country. The UID is expected to become available to an initial set of users by early 2010.
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