Aadhaar: India’s Ambitious Unique Identification Mission

aadhaarAadhaar is India’s ambitious mission to provide 12-digit unique personal identification numbers (PIN) to all its citizens. But with a population of more than 1.2 billion people, this has become the world’s largest single IT project. Now the question is will the project succeed?

IT projects planned on a huge scale often run into complexities and render unsuccessful. The Indian Government’s attempt to provide unique PIN to all citizens faces a similar danger. Aadhaar means foundation. The government has been successful in issuing PIN to about 370 million citizens till July, 2013. It is slated to provide 600 million more PINs by 2014. But this number represents just a small section of the whole population.

The project is being handled by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI). The organization has been collecting biometric information from the population of the country. The unique PINs will provide the poor and rural population with an official proof of their citizenship and their existence in the country, which many of them lack today. Aadhaar is slated to offer several advantages. The unique PIN will be an easy way to establish identity. This will allow users to avail public and private services that include bank accounts, government food and fuel subsidies, and mobile phone connections.

The PIN will provide identification that is not based on any caste, creed or religion. The PIN is designed to allow the government the opportunity to provide financial services to the poor, uneducated, rural population. As banks require proof of identity, this PIN can be an ideal solution.

Aadhaar will help the citizens to take advantage of Aadhaar-enabled micropayment system. This PIN, valid for a lifetime, will be instrumental in eliminating fake or duplicate identities in private and government records.

But the project also comes with its share of concerns and doubts. The government is far from completing the process of issuing cards to all the citizens. There is no plan to deal with the issues that will rise if an identity theft occurs. Banks are in confusion regarding how this scheme’s payment method will merge with the present systems.

Despite the challenges, the UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani is determined to complete the project. The only problem is that even he is not sure how long it will take for the project to complete.