A planned Unique Identification (UID) number for Indian citizens will be backed by biometric authentication, the head of the project has told BBC.
Fingerprints and photographs of more than a billion people will be taken when they are registered for the identity number, Nandan Nilekani said.
The biometric evidence will be stored online in what will be the biggest such national database in the world.
The first UID numbers will be issued in about 12-18 months, he said.
Mr Nilekani said that the “technology challenge” in putting together a biometric record of one billion citizens was “immense”.
“Biometrics on this scale has not been carried out before. They will be stored online and help in instant online authentication of the identity of every Indian,” he said.
But Mr Nilekani said the government does not have an “exact fix” on the how many Indians had some sort of identity proof.
His office is looking at 80 million income tax payers who possess a Permanent Account Number (PAN), some 200 million account holders in public and private banks, some 500 million mobile phone consumers and over 600 million Indians who have election cards.
There is, obviously, a considerable overlap as many of them have all or many of these forms of identification.
His office will also look at the database of Indian passport holders, public distribution system cards for food for the poor, and the list of cooking gas consumers in the country.
However, these checks will have to be done carefully because, as Mr Nilekani admits, there is the “phenomenon of duplicates” or fraudulent numbers.
It is clear that a large number of poor people have no identification at all, making it doubly difficult for them to gain access to social welfare schemes, Mr Nilekani added.
“This project is pro-poor and inclusive targeted mainly towards the poor. The middle class and the rich have some form of identity. People on the margins are getting lost because of lack of identity,” Mr Nilekani said.
It is also hoped that the number should help tackle identity theft and fraud.
Mr Nilekani’s office will be working with state governments and 20 – 25 agencies – the income tax department, the country’s Election Commission and the state-run life insurance company, for example – to roll out the identity numbers.
Nandan Nilekan is an Indian entrepreneur and businessman. He currently serves as the Chairman of the new Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), after a successful career at Infosys Technologies Ltd. He was the inspiration behind the book, The World is Flat.
His father worked as a General Manager of Mysore and Minerva Mills. His father, subscribed to the Fabian Socialist ideals, had an influence on Nandan during his early years. He has a older brother, Vijay, who works in the Nuclear Energy Institute.
He has an estimated net worth of the Indian rupee equivalent of US$1.3 billion. In 2009, Time magazine placed Nilekani in the Time 100 list of ‘World’s Most Influential People’
Nandan Nilekani is married to Rohini, whom he met at a quizzing event at IIT. They have two children, both studying at Yale University.
One of the youngest entrepreneurs to join 20 global leaders on the prestigious World Economic Forum (WEF) Foundation Board in January 2006.
He appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on March 18, 2009 to promote his book “Imagining India.” He has been a speaker at the prestigious TED conference where he talked about his ideas for India’s future
TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an academic organization owned by The Sapling Foundation, a private nonprofit foundation. TED is well-known for its annual, invitation-only conference devoted to “ideas worth spreading”. TED is famous for its lectures, known as TED Talks, which originally focused on technology, entertainment and design, but have now expanded in scope to a broad set of topics including science, arts, politics, education, culture, business, global issues, technology and development. Speakers have included such people as former U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Nobel laureates James D. Watson, Jane Goodall, and Al Gore, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and Billy Graham.
getting 1 billion people onto a database and bringing them out of the 3rd world into the 21st century is a tough job..nilekanis looks to be the man for the job..active at WEF and with a few other interesting connections..looks and smells like a bilderberger with a bilderberg plan to document every human on the planet
TED conference looks like another elite club..look at the speakers for starters