e-Passport and Smart Card Initiatives in India

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India to soon have e-Passports

Government of India is planning to introduce e-Passports, also known as bio-metric passports. This was informed recently by the Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, Shri E. Ahamed in the Upper House of the Parliament. Replying to a query on whether the government is envisaging introduction of e-Passports he stated that the e-Passport will be introduced initially for diplomats and officials as a pilot project later in the year 2007. By the end of 2008, e-Passports in the ordinary category may be issued, based on the experience gained from this pilot projectnm To this effect, a Technical Committee has been constituted to finalise the technical specifications of the e-passports. The cost of converting ordinary into bio-metric passports will be worked out on the basis of the technical specifications that will be finalised.

NXP Semi-conductors a Stong Contender for e-Passport Project in India

NXP president and Chief Executive Officer Frans Van Houten told a press conference that NXP semi-conductors is one of the contenders for the electronic passport system project, a plan Indian government is seriously considering. The company founded by Philips is already NXP chips are being used in over a million smart cards for Delhi Metro. The company, founded by Philips, is one of the leaders in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies.

While unveiling the company’s new technology campus at Bangalore (India), Houten said, “Eighty five per cent of the countries in the world use NXP chips in electronic passports. By 2008, the pilot project should happen. It will be initiated with diplomatic passports and then be rolled on for the others”.

The Government of India (GoI) has started much awaited multi- urpose National Identity Card (MNIC) project in the country. The government has selected Narela area in north Delhi to distribute the National ID cards.

The registrar general and census commissioner, D K Sikri will launch the card delivery operation by handing over hundreds of cards to villagers Narela in northwest Delhi on May 26, 2007. The government will distribute these smart cards to approximately 30 lakh people of 11 states. The National ID card will contain 16 personal details of an individual along with a unique identity number. Besides comprising name, sex, permanent and present residential addresses, marital status, place of birth, names of spouse (if ever married) and photograph, the card will also have ‘finger biometrics’ and ‘visible identification mark’ of an individual. These records would be kept as a part of the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC). The register would be continuously updated by linking it top the compulsory registration of births and deaths. Under this plan, citizens do not need to have separate ration card or driving license. The government will offer the MNIC is other regions, including Karimganj in Assam, Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, Kutch in Gujarat, Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, Pithoragarh in Uttrakhand, Maharajganj in Uttar Pradesh, West Tripura in Tripura, Murshidabad in West Bengal, north district in Goa, Medak in Andhra Pradesh, Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu, Northwest district in Delhi and Puducherry district in Puducherry.  The government has planned to cover entire population of the country by 2012.

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