An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has on November 4 cleared the establishment of a Unique Identity (UID) Authority, to be set up under the Planning Commission, for the purpose. The UID is expected to become available to an initial set of users by early 2010, an official release said on Monday, Nov 10.
The proposed system envisages collaboration among several government agencies backed by intensive use of information technology.
The UID Authority will formulate a detailed proposal covering the full cost of implementation, full contingent of staff needed and place it before the Cabinet for its approval by December.
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.
The unique number would obviate the need for a person to produce multiple documentary proofs of his identity for availing of any government or private services like opening of a bank account.
This would end needless harassment that people face for availing of basic government services like issuance of passports, driving licences and electoral identity cards.
Backed by intensive use of technology, the UID would facilitate easy verification of a person's identity and enable a single communication to trigger address changes in all relevant agencies records.
The new system is also expected to serve as the basis for many e-governance services incorporating online verification of a person's identity.
It would also enable government to ensure that benefits under various welfare programmes reach the intended beneficiaries and prevent cornering of benefits by a few people and minimise frauds.
Besides, it would enable financial institutions to exchange information regarding defaulters and encourage responsible borrower behaviour.
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.
Photographs and biometric data will also be added at a later stage to make the identification foolproof.
The EGOM also approved the modalities of collation of the UID scheme with the National Population Register proposed to be created by the Home Ministry.
The UID Authority will be responsible for creating and maintaining the core database and to lay down all necessary procedures for issuance and usage of the number, including arrangements for collection, validation and authentication of information.
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.