New Delhi: The Government of India has approved the proposal to use multi-application smart cards with unique identities (UIDs) for citizens to facilitate easy verification, availing of government or private services, help welfare programmes reach intended beneficiaries and for serving as basis for e-Governance.
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) headed by the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherji has approved the setting up of a Unique Identity (UID) Authority for this purpose.
The authority will be set up under the Planning Commission.
The proposed system envisages collaboration among several government agencies backed by intensive use of information technology.
It would help every individual for a variety of purposes such as better targeting of government’s development schemes, regulatory purposes (including taxation and licensing), security purposes, banking and financial sector activities.
The Unique Identity (UID) project seeks to assign a UID number to each individual in the country that would remain a permanent identifier right from birth to death of the individual.
The UID 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.
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, 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 minimise frauds.
It would enable financial institutions to exchange information regarding defaulters and encourage responsible borrower behaviour.
The scheme envisages 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.
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.
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.
The UID is expected to become available to an initial set of users by 2010.