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Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)
Aadhaar Logo.svg
Aadhaar logo
Agency overview
Formed January 2009
Jurisdiction Pan India
Headquarters New Delhi
Agency executive Vacant, Chairman
Website uidai.gov.in

Aadhaar is the national identification number system of India in the format 1234-5678-9012. It is a 12-digit digital identity that can be verified online instantly. It is assigned to all residents of India (including foreigners on work visa and their dependents) for their lifetime, on a voluntary basis. It is not a proof of citizenship. It only guarantees identity, not rights, benefits or entitlements.

The Aadhaar program is operated by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an authority of the Government of India. It was established in January 2009 under the Planning Commission of India.[1] Aadhaar is expected to play a prominent role in India reforms from 2014 onward.[2][3][4]


UIDAI is the Registrar of Identities; that is, it registers, assigns and verifies the unique identifiers. It is supposed to register two types of unique identities:[5]

  • Residents of India (called Aadhaar)
  • Corporate entities (corporate UID) for companies, banks, NGOs, trusts, political parties, etc.[6]

So far UIDAI has made progress on Aadhaar numbers (AN) only. Work on corporate UIDs is yet to be published.

However, corporate UID has been provisioned within the 12-digit UID number system.[6] The corporate UID is supposed to produce the similar effect for corporate entities as Aadhaar does to a person, that is, identification and traceability of transactions. It is supposed to bring transparency on financial transactions and donations, and to prevent corruption, money laundering, benami transactions (i.e. under a fictitious name), allocation of natural resources like land, spectrum, mining of sand, iron ore, coal blocks, etc. A similar identifier is defined by USA and Europe in ISO 9362 (business identifier code – BIC) for international business transactions (financial and non-financial).

UIDAI stores identities in its main database server called the central identity data repository (CIDR). Aadhaar identity is like internal passport to access various services in India. Aadhaar enrolment commenced in September 2010. Corporate UID enrolment is yet to begin.

Aadhaar serves the purpose if an Aadhaar holder verbally tells the AN and it gets instantly verified online at the point of service, through KYC or E-KYC process in a paperless way, which provides high reliability of identity.[7] Showing only a paper Aadhaar letter provides low reliability of identity, as it can be easily faked.

By April 2014, about 51% population holds Aadhaar. The Aadhaar program has already achieved the critical mass as of March 2014 by assigning 600 million (60 crore) AN and linking over 60 million bank accounts for direct benefit transfer for various social security benefits across many states. By 1 January 2014, half the nation (289 districts across various states) was covered under Aadhaar-DBT for various benefits. Over 100 agencies (e.g. banks, insurance, telecom etc.) use it for authentication services.[8][9][10][11]

Reserve Bank of India has planned Aadhaar-linked bank account for all adults of India by January 2016 as its commitment of nation-wide Financial Inclusion.[12]

Aadhaar program is the largest biometric database in the world. Currently it has 750 million people (7.5 billion fingerprints, 1.5 billion iris image, 750 million face photo) with 10 Petabytes of data. It will reach the entire population of 1.25 billion people by December 2015 at the current rate of enrolment, 15 PB of data and over 200 trillion biometric matches per day.[13][14]

National ID of India was first conceptualised and proposed by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) before 1998 in view of illegal immigrants and defective distribution of social security benefits; i.e. prior to forming government at the center under NDA coalition in 1998. Now and then this topic is discussed by BJP/NDA.[15][16][17][18][19]

Physical appearance[edit]

Aadhaar number (AN) is a 12-digit national identification number. Its format is 1234-5678-9012 where the first eleven digits are used as a sequence and the rightmost digit as an error detection check-sum.

Aadhaar letter is either color printed on a thick paper-card and sent thru postal service or pdf soft copy securely downloaded from the UIDAI website and then printed on A-4 sheet. It bears (in English and local language) the name of the holder, date of birth / age, address, mobile number, face-photo, Aadhaar number, enrollment number, QR-code. In addition it has four point declaration:

  • Aadhaar is a proof of identity, not of citizenship.
  • To establish identity, authenticate online.
  • Aadhaar is valid throughout the country.
  • Aadhaar will be helpful in availing government and non-government services in future.

Therefore, it is not a proof of citizenship, hence it is assigned to all residents including the foreign nationals on valid long term visa. Aadhaar guarantees identity only; not rights, benefits or entitlements. The cut-through part can be separated and laminated to bankcard size as portable ID card.

Updation / correction of data at Aadhaar office[edit]

Existing Aadhaar-holders may want to update / correct their photograph, address and mobile number etc.[20] It can be done in online mode at this link as well as offline mode using this update form. Children have to update their biometric data after attaining the age of 15 years for successful biometric authentication. New born children or left out adults may have to be enrolled after the present camp-drive completes 1200 million (120 crore) enrollments. Therefore, permanent offices called Aadhaar seva kendra (ASK) are being opened at district level on the lines of passport seva kendra (PSK). Locate Aadhaar seva kendra near you at this link. Examples of such offices are:[21]


  • Aadhaar seva kendra, No 42, 46/E, Beside Passport Seva Kendra, 2nd Floor, Lalbagh Main Road, Bangalore, Karnataka - 560027,
  • Aadhaar seva kendra, No. 51/2 TKN Complex, Vanvilas Road, opp National College, Basavangudi, Bangalore, Karnataka - 560004, Mobile: 8050539438
  • Aadhaar seva kendra, No 716, 1st Floor, 1st Main Road, 4th Phase Akashawani Road, Yelahnaka New Town, Karnataka - 560064, Mobile: 7353329762


  • Aadhaar seva kendra, IGCSM Bhawan, 36B/1,2ND Foor,Govindpuri, Kalkaji, New Delhi - 110019.
  • Aadhaar seva kendra, Ground Floor, Pragati Maidan Metro Station, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi-110001.

Practically useful points[edit]

  1. The general purpose online services to meet many needs on daily basis is the Aadhaar kiosk. It can be used to check Aadhaar status, download e-Aadhaar, update data, book appointment and locate enrollment centers.
  2. If one wants to replace the Aadhaar letter version with date of birth (DoB) instead of the year of birth (YoB) (older version issued till 2013), then it can be done by simply downloading the E-Aadhaar letter once again at the Aadhaar kiosk. It works with two options and needs either (a) Aadhaar number and registered old mobile number for OTP (one time password) sent by SMS; or (b) Enrollment number and any mobile number for OTP sent by SMS.
  3. However, if someone does not hold the same registered mobile number any more, then the E-Aadhaar letter can be downloaded without OTP requirement at the authorized e-governance outlets such as the BangaloreOne in Karnataka state; Akshaya outlets in Kerala state etc. One can find the similar e-governance outlets for one's state / district thru google search or other means.
  4. One can get another copy of Aadhaar letter by sending email to help@uidai.gov.in or calling the helpline 1800-300-1947 (toll free).
  5. If Aadhaar number is lost or forgotten then one can obtain the number from any place where it was used for e.g. KYC for mobile SIM, bank account linking , LPG linking etc. It also can be obtained by telling the demographic information and mobile number to the helpline 1800-300-1947 (toll free). Re-registration is generally rejected as it has costs and is computing intensive. Once the number is known, then Aadhaar letter can be obtained by downloading, from the e-governance outlets or thru the UIDAI helpline as above.

Properties of AN[edit]

AN is a digital identity, instantly verifiable online at the point of service (PoS), at anytime, anywhere, in a paperless way.[6] It is assigned only to humans, not to corporate entities like companies or non-governmental organisations, unlike the identifier for income tax payer permanent account number (PAN) card. The government expects that it will enable under-privileged people to access basic rights and social security benefits, which they have been deprived so far due to lack of identity.[22]

AN is assigned to residents of India for their lifetime. It is designed to enable government agencies to deliver retail public services securely based on biometric data (fingerprint, iris scan and face photo), along with demographic data (name, age, gender, address, parent/ spouse name, mobile phone number) of a person. AN is portable, free from limitations of physical presence of a person at a given place. Thus is can be used for casting vote from anywhere using mobile phone or personal computer, availing social security benefits from anywhere e.g. drawing PDS ration from any shop etc.

AN also works as a financial address, i.e. it works as a bank account number. This is designed to help spread low cost, ubiquitous, branchless banking services in rural areas – called micro-ATM, as part of the Financial Inclusion initiative.[23]

AN is valid all over India as a proof of identity, age and address. It is immensely helpful to migrant workers for employment and social security benefits. In case of change of personal information (mobile number, residence), the same can be updated with proof at Aadhaar Kendra, the permanent field-office.

AN is stored in a centralised database (CIDR) and linked to the basic demographics and biometric information – photograph, ten finger-prints and both iris – of each individual. It is verifiable online with the database server (CIDR) instantaneously, at a low cost. It is portable and robust enough to identify duplicate and fake identities from government and private databases. It is a randomly generated number, is sparsely populated in the database, designed not to be guessable, with no associated intelligence, and no profiling information such as caste, creed, religion or language. Since Aadhaar uses 11-digit for sequence, therefore it has an address space of 1011 (100 billion). So AN can be assigned to 100 billion residents, and is designed not to get used up in the next 500 years. Upon the death of a person, the Aadhaar database record is marked as "inactive", and is never reused nor deleted.[6]

The de-duplication capability (uniqueness) of AN is theoretically 99.9% and practically 100% due to combination of multiple demographic and biometric attributes.

Aadhaar versus SSN (USA)[edit]

Social security number of USA is a nine-digit number in the format 123-45-6789 issued to U.S. citizens (at birth) and foreign nationals on work visa like Aadhaar. It was started almost a century ago (1935) when there were no electronic biometric technology available. SSN card does not have even face-photo of the holder unlike Aadhaar. There are few problems with SSN due to lack of biometric data and technology of the 1935: (a) some people hold more than one SSN, (b) SSN claimed by a person cannot be proven without relying upon other means of identification and documents, (c) fraudulent SSNs are not easily detectable with publicly available information, (d) SSN does not has a check digit, (e) SSN is guessable that may cause identity theft.[24] Aadhaar does not suffer from these problems due to biometric data, processes, tools and technology of the 21st century.

Authentication of identities[edit]

The power of Aadhaar number (AN) vests with its instant, online, consent-based validation at the point of service (PoS) using demographic and biometrics attributes at anytime from anywhere in a paperless way. No other ID in India has this feature.[25][26] Authenticator is the license-holder from UIDAI who can verify Aadhaar identities online, unlike only passport office that can verify passport, and only RTO that can verify driving license and none else. It has dependence on minimum 2G internet access. Authentication devices and PoS will become ubiquitous by 2014-end.


It is designed to be secure, auditable, non-repudiable, and consent-based (by biometrics or a one-time password (OTP)). OTP is sent by CIDR server to registered mobile phone number or email ID of the Aadhaar-holder. There are mainly 2 types of authentication with different combination of attributes:

  • KYC: On consent, the service provider inputs the AN + Demographic data + Biometric or OTP, and receives "Yes" or "No" response from CIDR database server.
  • E-KYC: On consent, the service provider inputs the AN + Biometric or OTP, and receives demographic data (photo, name, gender, address, date of birth, mobile number, email-id i.e. receives digital copy of the Aadhaar letter) from CIDR database server. Biometric data of resident is never shared by CIDR.[25]

The authentication data requested and received use encrypted communication from machine to machine through an application programming interface (API) without human intervention. Following authentication, the received KYC data gets stored in the system of the service provider in the required data-format along with audit-track. Then this data is processed and service is provided to the customer immediately.[25]

The service provider decides what demographic and biometric attributes it wants to use for a given service. For example, iris and multiple fingers along with demographics may be used for high value transactions. Similarly, few demographic attributes with OTP only (no biometrics) may be used for low value transactions.

UIDAI does not support authentication requests thru paper letter, email or telephonic.


As of March 2014, over 100 agencies use Aadhaar authentication services. Presently major users of the services are banks (e.g. Axis, ICICI, SBI etc.), passport office, income tax PAN, and telecom service providers (e.g. Vodafone, Reliance etc.). [9][27]


In order to make financially self-sustainable, the UIDAI will collect volume based fee for its authentication services. Authentication service agency (ASA) / authentication user agency (AUA) enter into license agreement with the UIDAI. The authentication service is free till 30 June 2014. The fee structure is yet to be declared.[27][28]

Process comparison: Aadhaar, passport, driving license and PAN[edit]

The identities given in the following table were devised for its special purpose except Aadhaar. Passport is to identify international traveler, driving license is for eligibility to drive, Permanent account number (PAN) is to identify income tax payer. (sources: Aadhaar enrollment form, Aapka Aadhaar, passport seva,driving license, PAN)

Till the absence of National ID of India - Aadhaar, people have been using these special purpose identities for general purpose despite various deficiencies, e.g. PAN card is not accepted as proof of address due to absence of address on the card, driving license and passport cannot be verified instantly at the point of general service etc. The perusal and analysis of these identities from the viewpoint of people, process, tools and technology at the point of service authentication show its strength and weaknesses as general purposes identity, hence degree of acceptability.

Process comparison for Aadhaar, passport, driving licence and PAN
Data Type Parameters Aadhaar Passport Driving licence PAN
Biometric-1 Face photo Yes Yes Yes Yes
Biometric-2 Fingerprint Yes Yes Yes No
Biometric-3 Iris Image Yes No No No
Biometric-4 Identification mark on body No Yes Yes No
Biometric-5 Blood group No No Yes No
Biometric-6 Vision No No Yes No
Biometric-7 Medical test (BG, vision, diseases, etc.) No No Yes No
Biometric-8 Height No No Yes No
Biometric-9 Weight No No Yes No
Demographic-1 Name Yes Yes Yes Yes
Demographic-2 Parent's name Yes Yes Yes Yes
Demographic-3 Gender Yes Yes Yes Yes
Demographic-4 Date of Birth / Age Yes Yes Yes Yes
Demographic-5 Education No Yes Yes No
Demographic-6 Home Address Yes Yes Yes Yes
Demographic-7 Neighborhood references No Yes No No
Document-1 Photo ID proof Yes Yes Yes Yes
Document-2 Date of Birth / Age proof Yes Yes Yes Yes
Document-3 Home Address proof Yes Yes Yes Yes
Document-4 Education proof No Yes Yes No
Document-5 Aadhaar Number proof (optional) N.A. Yes Yes Yes
Other-1 Voluntary to obtain Yes Yes Yes Yes
Other-2 Digital identity Yes No No Yes
Other-3 Validity for life Yes No No Yes
Other-4 Verifiable anytime at point of service Yes No No No
Other-5 Fee No Yes Yes Yes
Other-6 Given to all residents Yes No Yes Yes
Other-7 Citizenship proof No Yes No No
Other-8 Documents verified Yes Yes Yes Yes
Other-9 Delivered by Registered India Post Yes Yes Yes Yes
Other-10 Police verification at home No Yes No No

Rationale and goals[edit]

To avail social security benefits as well as government-regulated services (e.g. bank account, insurance, mobile SIM, driving license, vehicle registration etc.); compliance to Know-Your-Customer (KYC) conditions are mandatory. The minimum KYC consists of 3 proofs:

  • Proof of Identity (name with face photograph),
  • Proof of Age (date of birth or estimated age),
  • Proof of Residence (presently staying).

As of January 2014, India has population of 1.25 billion, about 1 billion mobile phones, 640,000 villages, 75% literacy, 2.5% (30 million) income tax payer, 4% (50 million) passport, 12% (150 million) driving license, less than 20% (250 million) bank account, 33% (400 million) migrant labourers and 60% (750 million) very poor people i.e. they live under Rs. 100 ($2) per day income and starve at least one meal everyday. About 80% (1 billion) people do not hold identity documents to satisfy minimum KYC.[29][30][31]

The Union Government spends Rs. 3,000 billion ($50 billion) on various social security subsidies (see table below "Social security budget 2013–14"). In addition, various state governments also spend on specific social security programs. As per various estimates, about 40% to 85% of social security benefits have been plagued with fictitious and multiple identities due to lack of standard identity system that is verifiable instantly at the point of service.[31][32]

Provide identity[edit]

Out of 1.25 billion (125 crore) population of India, over 1 billion (100 crore) do not hold identity documents to satisfy minimum KYC.[33][34][35]

There are over 400 million (40 crore) migrant labourers (internal) who are poor, landless, not educated or illiterate. These migrant workers do not exist on the government's databases, despite having worked for years in another district of the same state or another state of India. Lack of identity prevents them from basic rights and social security benefits.[34][36]

The prime objective of Aadhaar is to provide lifetime digital identity which is verifiable instantly online at the point of service with biometrics in paperless way.[34][37]

Provide social security benefits[edit]

Aadhaar-platform is aimed at providing social security benefits / subsidies based on eligibility thru direct benefit transfer. It provides access and options to rural and poor people. It helps bring transparency and eliminate corruption, leakage and inefficiency.[38]

The following table shows financial size of the social security benefits / subsidies funded by the Union government of India. The table does not cover other programs operated by various State governments, see Public welfare in India. The social security benefits / subsidies offered by various state governments is estimated to be above Rs. 600 billion (US$10 billion). Thus total subsidies become Rs. 3,600 billion (US$60 billion).[39][40]

Social security budget 2013–14
Region Social security program Billion Rupee Billion US$
Pan India Total subsidy for FY-2013-14 (approx) 3,600 60.00
Pan India Food Security (PDS) (subsidy) 1,250 20.83
Pan India Petroleum (subsidy) 970 16.17
Rural Fertilizer (subsidy) 660 11.00
Rural NREGA (non-subsidy) 330 5.50
Rural Child development (ICDS) (non-subsidy) 177 2.95
Rural Drinking water and sanitation (non-subsidy) 152 2.53
Rural Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) (non-subsidy) 151 2.52
Rural Maternal and child malnutrition (non-subsidy) 3 0.05
States Various programmes of state govts (subsidy/non-subsidy) 600 10.00

Financial inclusion[edit]

Reserve Bank of India has planned Aadhaar-linked bank accounts for all adults of India by January 2016 to meet its commitment on Financial Inclusion. It will greatly transform India by preventing the poor people falling into debt-traps of unlawful money-lenders, cashless transactions, elimination of poverty and corruption.[12][23][41][42]

A basic Aadhaar-enabled bank account (AeBA) is a basic savings account (zero-balance) where a debit-card is issued and the Aadhaar number is used as the account number. It can be instantly opened (like a prepaid bankcard). Transactions operate with fingerprint authentication only; as indicated by the Aadhaar logo on the card. PIN is not issued to zero-balance AeBA because it is aimed at financial inclusion of unbanked, illiterate, and rural people. Bankcard operates at micro-ATM and other ATMs equipped with fingerprint scanner. Presently passbook is not issued to these accounts due to infrastructure problem. Transactions like deposit, withdrawal, transfer, balance-check can be performed. AeBA is used for direct payment of social security benefits such as pensions, scholarships, NREGA wages, healthcare, subsidy for LPG, kerosene, PDS ration, fertilizers etc.[43][44][45]

Generally, a micro-ATM consists of a laptop computer or smart-phone equipped with 2G-internet, fingerprint scanner, receipt-printer, speaker and power backup (solar / battery). It is human-operated by a commission agent called a banking correspondent (BC) so that illiterate customers do not face problems of ATM machine operations. BCs are generally chemist shops, provision shops or mobile vans. It is similar to the commission agent model of prepaid mobile phone recharge.[46]

Some banks issue photo bankcards, that are a boon to rural people and migrant workers because they work not only as bankcards but also as identity cards. RuPay card by Indian payment-bridge NPCI and Saral Money Visa are two prominent AeBA bankcards.[47][48]

Once bankcards become common in rural areas, India will become a nation of cashless transactions, like the USA but with higher transparency and accountability. Cash is used for bribery and corruption.[49]

Once rural and poor people get the bank account, they become eligible to avail bank loans for farming and domestic purpose at 10% per year interest rate. It would be a great transformation of rural and poor India. Currently village money-lenders lend at usury rates (10% to 30% per month i.e. 120% to 360% per year) which results into many social evils. The related social evils are debt-trap, bonded-labour for generations, poor become landless, homeless destitute and children get deprived of education as they become bonded-labourer, families get shattered and many farmers commit suicide every year due to impractical, blood-sucking loan-interest burden. Thus financial inclusion will put stop to unlawful, blood-sucking money-lending business and the associated social evils.[50][51][52]

India is not the first country to implement the banking service for rural and under-privileged. It is being implemented after studying various banking systems in the world which have been successfully operational for the past several decades. Some of these countries are Bangladesh, Philippines, Korea, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Mexico, Chile etc.[53]

Aadhaar-enabled service delivery[edit]

Various financial as well as non-financial services are being made Aadhaar-enabled, called Aadhaar-enabled Service Delivery (AeSD) in phased manner.[38] By 1 January 2014, half the nation (289 districts across various states) has been covered under DBT for subsidised LPG.[8] By August 2013, 6.3 million duplicate connections were cancelled after detection by Aadhaar-seeding. Thus government saved $1 billion on reduced import by mid-2013. Over 17 million consumers received Rs. 30 billion (Rs 3,000 crore) as cash subsidy for LPG by January 2014. In view of the Supreme Court directive of 24 March 2014, presently all Aadhaar-enabled services are optional.[9][54]

Following is the list of AeSD as of 31 January 2014. By default, Aadhaar is optional unless stated compulsory for a given region.[38][55]

Table of Aadhaar-enabled Service Delivery
Serial Service Region Required
1 Bank Account – New All India Optional[56]
2 Bank Account for DBT All India – in phases Compulsory[57]
3 Bank transactions thru micro-ATM All India – in phases Compulsory[46]
4 Mobile SIM card All India Optional[58]
5 Passport All India Optional[59]
6 Provident Fund All India Optional[60]
7 Attendance – office Planning Commission, Maharashtra Optional[61]
8 NREGA worksite attendance All India – in phases Compulsory[62]
9 Attendance – school staff Maharashtra, Jharkhand Optional[63]
10 Salary/ wages payments All India (NREGA), Maharashtra Compulsory[64]
11 Food Security / PDS Ration Delhi, Andhra Pradesh Compulsory[57][63]
12 LPG subsidy All India – in phases Optional[57][65]
13 Kerosene subsidy Rajasthan, Andhra – in phases Compulsory[66]
14 Health – Janani Suraksha Yojana Delhi, Jharkhand, Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Compulsory[57]
15 Social security pension – old-age Delhi, Jharkhand, Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Compulsory[57]
16 Social security pension – widow Delhi, Jharkhand, Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Compulsory[57]
17 Scholarships Delhi, Jharkhand, Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Compulsory[57]
18 Registration of land & building Delhi, Jharkhand Optional[67]
19 Registration of birth Delhi, Jharkhand Optional[57]
20 Registration of marriage Delhi, Jharkhand Optional[57]
21 Registration of death Delhi, Jharkhand Optional[57]
22 Registration of tenancy Delhi, Jharkhand Optional[57]
23 Registration of students Delhi, Jharkhand Optional[57]
24 Registration of vehicles (RTO) All India Optional[57]
25 Driving License (RTO) All India Optional[57]

Aadhaar DBT[edit]

Aadhaar direct benefit transfer (DBT) is an Aadhaar-enabled financial service used for direct payment of social security benefits into the bank account of the Aadhaar holder.[68][69]

A pre-existing or new bank account can be enabled as AeBA by seeding (linking) it with Aadhaar number. Seeding makes mapping information stored onto NPCI payment-gateway, that facilitates the subsidy payment. The seeding helps identify the genuine and eligible beneficiary, and prevents duplicate and nonexistent (fake, dead) persons.[70] One can link bank account as self-service option thru ATM kiosk, Internet, bank website, telephone or by providing a copy of the Aadhaar letter to bank. Bank links the account with Aadhaar number after online verification thru RASF (Remote Aadhaar Sharing Framework link).[71]

Eligibility of beneficiary is applied based on rules and is cross-checked with other related databases which are also Aadhaar linked. This approach is designed to improve the audit trail, add efficiency; prevent corruption, middlemen and delayed payments; eliminate non-existent, duplicate and ineligible beneficiaries. It results in direct benefit access to the eligible people; and saves multi-billion rupee from corruption annually.[72][73]

Tangible benefits become visible from 2014. A report of UBS Securities published in Jan 2014 shows that Aadhaar DBT can save 1.2% of GDP. GDP of India is $1,800 billion, thus the saving is $22 billion (Rs. 1.32 trillion), which ultimately translates to 33% savings on overall social security spending.[3]

Finance Minister informed the Parliament during Vote on Account that as of 31 January 2014, under DBT Rs. 33 billion for 21 million LPG subsidy and Rs. 6.28 billion (628 crore) have been transferred for various social programs in 5.4 million transactions.[74][75]


Aadhaar number is the pivot of e-governance from identity perspective. The objectives of Aadhaar number (AN) is to use it as an effective governance tool – to bring transparency, efficiency and weed out the bogus beneficiaries from social security programs e.g. social security pensions, scholarships, public health, NREGA, subsidy on PDS ration, kerosene, LPG etc. Thus Aadhaar is expected to save public exchequer from bogus beneficiaries up to Rs. 1.1 Trillion (Rs. 1,100,000 crore) by the year 2020 as per study report of National institute of public finance and planning.[76][77][78]

In 1980s pointing towards the widespread corruption in social security programs in India, the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had made a famous statement in Parliament that only 15% of benefits reach the poor people; the remaining 85% are eaten-away by the corrupt officials and middlemen.[79] Similarly, the World Bank chief said that Aadhaar will help eradicate poverty in India.[80]

The stand-alone databases of social security services can not interact with each other due to lack of a unique identifier like AN. Thus stand-alone databases do not have ability to detect and prevent fictitious and ineligible beneficiaries. Therefore, AN is aimed at eliminating retail corruption in the public domain which has affected social security programs since independence. In India, about 750 million (60%) people starve everyday for at least one meal.[31][78]

Prevention of corruption[edit]

Although Aadhaar can prevent retail-corruption to much extent, yet it is not capable of preventing wholesale-corruption like allocation of coal-blocks, 2G spectrum, mining of iron-ore, sand, onion hoarding etc. corporate UID is required to prevent such wholesale-corruptions and this provision is already inbuilt in UIDAI Number System, yet implementation is pending.[81][82]

Prevention of identity fraud[edit]

Identity frauds such as identity theft (using the identity of another person, dead or alive) and identity document forgery (fake IDs created on fictitious person, also called benami) has been a common practice in India. The scan, super-imposition and color-print functions of ubiquitous printers have made paper-based and plastic card-based frauds much easy. Identity fraud is committed for financial gain or due to compulsion. Identity fraud committed for financial gains are mostly benami companies and benami bank accounts used for bribery and money laundering. Identity fraud committed on compulsions is either due to lack of a person's own ID documents, or due to the intention of not using one's own ID.[83][84][85][86][87][88]

In the telecoms sector companies paid a Rs. 7 billion (Rs. 700 crore) penalty to the telecoms regulator on fake KYC IDs in 2011. The examples also can be used to other areas such as PDS ration and kerosene, subsided LPG, welfare pensions, scholarships etc.[89][90][91]

There are 400 million workers who work in other states (internal migrant workers) in unorganised sectors like construction and farming.[36] They need mobile phones to keep in touch with their family and employers. They do not possess minimum KYC IDs (proof of identity, proof of age, proof of residence) to procure a mobile phone SIM card. Telecommunications service providers (TSP) in India ask for minimum KYC IDs, where the proof of residence (PoR) must be the local address only. Since they normally stay in shared shanties without any valid documents, they cannot produce PoR. So they fraudulently purchase available IDs of other persons at a high price to obtain a mobile SIM. Prisoners, criminals and terrorists never procure mobile SIMs using their own IDs due to obvious reasons of getting tracked.[84][92]

The employees of TSPs are generally under pressure to achieve sales targets. Hence there are cases where one set of IDs submitted by a genuine customer to procure just one SIM has been reused 100 times to issue 100 SIMs fraudulently.[84]

Some photocopy shops fraudulently scan and make extra copies of identity papers and sell them at a premium, leading to identity fraud. Some prospective employers do not destroy the papers of rejected candidates, and some times that goes into wrong hands leading to identity fraud.[85][86]

Employees' Provident Fund Organisation of India frauds can be prevented after its Aadhaar linking.[93][94]

Aadhaar E-KYC is designed to solve the problems of identity fraud. Telecom companies have started adopting it to avoid KYC penalties.[95][96][97]

Ghost employees[edit]

Thousands of fictitious employees are found on payrolls of government and public sectors each year. In 2013–14, 29,000 ghost employees of Jammu and Kashmir government have been detected, 1,588 of Municipal Corporation of Delhi and 400 of Air India including some ghost pilots have been detected.[98] It not only causes billions of rupee of monetary corruption and loss of public work but also it poses grave security threat to the nation.[99][100] Corrupts take away all the monetary benefits worth billions of rupee like salary, allowances, pensions, PF etc.[101][102] Such corruptions can be prevented by seeding Aadhaar with employee recruitment process, salary payment, provident fund and pension. Some private sector companies have adopted Aadhaar to avoid such problems.[103]

Existing IDs and problem areas[edit]

Traditionally existing IDs in India have been token-based i.e. paper and plastic-based driving license, passport, PAN card, voter ID etc. None of these IDs have the feature of being lifetime digital identity that can be verified instantly at the general point of service at anytime anywhere for uniqueness and real existence. Moreover, as of 2013, only 150 million hold driving license, 50 million people hold passport and 30 million pay taxes, and these are mutually inclusive.[34] These IDs do not qualify the generic all-purpose ID for life. These IDs expire at certain intervals, for various reasons, and need to be re-applied with payment for fresh-issuance or renewal. The identification number on these IDs changes with each renewal. Some IDs are not accepted across states, and people are asked to provide local ID. These IDs (except voter ID) are generally possessed by urban higher-income group. The rural and poor, who are largest number, do not possess it. Hence these do not serve the purpose of providing minimum KYC to a billion people. Others do have some ID yet not sufficient for minimum KYC. Women and children of well-to-do families in rural and tribal areas also generally lack KYC IDs.

Traditional IDs are not biometric based. Moreover, these plastic or paper-based IDs are easily reproducible with modified and fake information (such as by scan, super-imposition and print functions of ubiquitous printers). Thus these easily lead to identity theft and identity fraud.

Photocopies of IDs of various people are taken fraudulently or stolen from various places (e.g. photocopy shops, employment applications), then multiple copies are made and sold to needy people at high price. Since very large number of people in India do not hold minimum KYC IDs, therefore they buy such identity-theft papers to procure mobile SIM. At least 100 million mobile SIMs in India, currently in use, have been procured on identity-theft and identity-fraud.[83]

The driving license cannot be issued to a person below 18 years. It is not verifiable online instantly at the general point of service. Obtaining it is costly and lengthy process for the general public, and only 150 million hold it.[34] Fake driving licenses also exist.[104]

Obtaining a passport is costly and lengthy process, and only 50 million hold it. It is not verifiable online instantly at the general point of service.[34] Fake passports also exist.[105][106][107]

Although PAN is issued for the holder's lifetime, yet it is designed specially for income tax payers - person and non-person like company, trust, NGO etc. It is not verifiable online instantly at the general point of service. Although there are 200 million PAN-holders as of March 2014, yet only 30 million holders pay the income tax.[108] Obtaining PAN is a costly and lengthy process, multiple PANs are held by single holder against law for tax evasion, millions of PAN cards are suspected to have a fake user, fake holder or fake card due to lack of biometrics and instant verification at the general point of service. Hence the Finance Ministry has started linking PAN with Aadhaar to eliminate fake users and fake cards, so that it can prevent income tax-evasion at higher slabs.[83][108][109][110]

Ration card is issued one per family, and every family does not hold one. It is not verifiable online instantly at the general point of service. It does not help migrant workers when they move to another location. Millions of ration cards are either fake or defunct, yet these are used as ID.[111][112][113]

Voter ID cannot be issued to a person below 18 years. It is not verifiable online instantly at the general point of service. Names get deleted from the voter-list from time to time for various reasons. Voter ID becomes invalid once the name of that serial number is deleted. Photo and other data on voter ID is generally not clear and jumbled. Millions of fake and bogus voter IDs exist. It is not unique because some persons have multiple. It can be misused after death of the holder.[114][115][116]

Therefore, there has been a need to provide instantly verifiable identity at the general point of service to all residents of India.



Process is almost similar to obtaining a fresh passport. Enrollment is voluntary and free of cost. When a person desires to obtain Aadhaar identity, he or she has to submit a prescribed enrolment form attached with minimum KYC documents (i.e. proof of identity, age, residence) to a UIDAI appointed registrar. If, for example, a person from a village does not have KYC IDs, then a recognised Introducer (generally a village head) can introduce and certify his or her PoI, PoA and PoR. Introducers are appointed by UIDAI based on certain criteria and conditions.

On completion of paper formalities, the biometric scanning (2 iris, 10 fingers, facial photo) is done by the operator and a printed acknowledgement is given to the applicant. Then scanned data, along with the application form, is sent to appropriate authorities for verification and final processing. It takes about three months to get an Aadhaar number on successful processing.[117][118][119]

As self-service, it is faster to download the "E-Aadhaar" letter (pdf copy) from the UIDAI portal after 3 months than await the postal delivery of Aadhaar letter, which may take 6 to 9 months presently.[120]

UIDAI versus NPR[edit]

The UIDAI was initially mandated to enroll 600 million people in its assigned territory. Similarly, the census operations group (Registrar General of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs) was initially mandated to enroll the remaining 600 million people in its assigned territory under the National Population Register (NPR) program. Although an enrolment of 600 million is done by census operations, the collected data is given to the UIDAI for generation of Aadhaar numbers. Thus UIDAI generates Aadhaar numbers for the whole of India.

UIDAI has no role to play in management of NPR enrolment centres.[121]

As of October 2013, a large volume of biometric data have been rejected by UIDAI due to poor quality of scanning, thus causing delays and inconvenience to the public.[121]

Due to extremely slow pace of enrollment in populous states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttara Khand and Chhattisgarh, the cabinet committee on Unique Identification Authority of India (CC UIDAI) has reallocated these four states to UIDAI in February 2014.[122][123]

Status of AN generation[edit]

The total number of Aadhaar enrolment as of April 2014 is over 750 million (75.0 crore) and is going at the rate of about 1 million per day. The total number of Aadhaar number (AN) processed and assigned as of 14 April 2014 is over 617 million (61.7 crore).[124] [125][126]

The following table displays the progress of assigned AN (state-wise). The up-to-date information is available on the official website of UIDAI.[127]

Table of assigned Aadhaar Number (AN)
Serial State / Union territory Population (2011) Assigned AN % of population
0 INDIA 1,210,593,422 617,402,650 51.00%
1 Maharashtra 112,372,972 86,109,215 76.63%
2 Andhra Pradesh 84,665,533 79,876,087 94.34%
3 Tamil Nadu 72,138,958 45,463,528 63.02%
4 Madhya Pradesh 72,597,565 45,018,042 62.01%
5 Karnataka 61,130,704 43,943,584 71.88%
6 Rajasthan 68,621,012 39,734,229 57.90%
7 West Bengal 91,347,736 41,114,165 45.01%
8 Kerala 33,387,677 30,279,667 90.69%
9 Gujarat 60,383,628 32,322,616 53.53%
10 Uttar Pradesh 199,581,477 30,314,801 15.19%
11 Jharkhand 32,966,238 26,236,187 79.59%
12 Punjab 27,704,236 24,068,824 86.88%
13 Odisha 41,947,358 19,822,882 47.26%
14 Haryana 25,753,081 19,032,549 73.90%
15 Delhi 16,753,235 16,905,570 100.91%
16 Bihar 103,804,637 8,829,121 8.51%
17 Himachal Pradesh 6,856,509 6,430,990 93.79%
18 Chhattisgarh 25,540,196 3,628,251 14.21%
19 Tripura 3,671,032 3,173,118 86.44%
20 Uttarakhand 10,116,752 2,788,197 27.56%
21 Jammu and Kashmir 12,548,926 1,503,807 11.98%
22 Goa 1,457,723 1,332,405 91.40%
23 Puducherry 1,244,464 1,141,246 91.71%
24 Manipur 2,721,756 984,136 36.16%
25 Chandigarh 1,054,686 935,675 88.72%
26 Nagaland 1,980,602 815,319 41.17%
27 Others 0 1,260,828 NA
28 Sikkim 607,688 551,468 90.75%
29 Dadra and Nagar Haveli 342,853 196,353 57.27%
30 Andaman and Nicobar Islands 379,944 163,555 43.05%
31 Daman and Diu 242,911 162,144 66.75%
32 Assam 31,169,272 74,633 0.24%
33 Lakshadweep 64,429 55,298 85.83%
34 Arunachal Pradesh 1,382,611 25,229 1.82%
35 Mizoram 1,091,014 35,288 3.23%
36 Meghalaya 2,964,007 13,493 0.46%

Acceptance and applications[edit]

Delhi is the first state to achieve 100% AN enrolment in September 2013.[128] The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has made Aadhaar and E-KYC as a standard proof of identity and residence for banking.[129][130] Axis Bank is the first bank to make all its branches Aadhaar and E-KYC compliant from October 2013. Without producing any paper-based identity document, an Aadhaar-holder can open bank account, by just providing Aadhaar number and validating with fingerprint through E-KYC process.[131]

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) accepts Aadhaar to identify candidates in its civil services exams like IAS, IPS etc.[132]

LPG companies use AN for KYC, to pay subsidy and eliminate fake beneficiaries. In 2013 it saved one billion dollar from fake beneficiaries.[76]

Various state governments use it for public welfare programs such as pensions and scholarships, which has been saving millions from fake beneficiaries.[76][133][134][135][136][136][137]

The government estimates that Aadhaar will save it 1.1 trillion by 2020.[77]

Private sector company Trident uses Aadhaar for employee recruitment and salary payment to check fraud and reduce cost.[138]

Future applications of Aadhaar can be to cast vote from anywhere, avail social security benefits from anywhere e.g. drawing PDS ration from any shop etc.

As of October 2013, below is the partial list of acceptance of Aadhaar letter as KYC and e-KYC:[57][67]

Acceptance of Aadhaar letter (KYC) and e-KYC
Type Organization Letter (KYC) e-KYC
Regulator Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Yes Yes
Regulator Insurance Regulatory and Dev Authority (IRDA) Yes Yes
Regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Yes Yes
Regulator Pensions Funds Reg and Dev Authority (PFRDA) Yes Yes
Regulator Forward Markets Commission Yes No
Regulator Telecom Reg Authority of India (TRAI) Yes Yes
Regulator Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Yes No
Central Government Min of Finance, Dept of Revenue Yes Yes
Central Government Dept of Telecommunications Yes Yes
Central Government Min of Petroleum (LPG) Yes No
Central Government Min of Panchayati Raj / RGSY Yes No
Central Government Indian Railways Yes No
Central Government MEA (Passport) Yes No
State Government Government of Delhi Yes Yes
State Government Government of Himachal Pradesh Yes No
State Government Government of UT Chandigarh Yes No
State Government Government of Haryana Yes No
State Government Government of Tripura Yes No
State Government Government of Punjab Yes No
State Government Government of Sikkim Yes No
State Government Government of Jharkhand Yes Yes


As the public databases are getting inter-linked one by one through Aadhaar Number (AN) in various states (particularly Delhi,[57] Kerala,[139] Maharashtra[140] and Andhra Pradesh),[141] middlemen and officials in those regions now find difficult to continue with corruption in social security programs like pensions,[136] scholarships, health,[142] NREGA, PDS Ration,[79] subsidised kerosene[78] and LPG.[76]

Ineligible, duplicate and fictitious beneficiaries are getting eliminated from social security programs.[143]

Corrupt people are finding difficult to buy and sell benami land and building[144] (i.e.under fictitious name), to open and operate benami companies for money-laundering.[145][146] They are also finding difficult to open and operate benami bank accounts for keeping criminal proceeds.[110] Tax-evaders are finding difficult to evade taxes,[110] and impersonation and proxy are getting difficult to commit due to online biometric validation.[144]

Criminals and terrorists are getting detected and tracked through inter-linked databases of mobile phone numbers, bank account numbers and travel documents.[147][148] Illegal immigrants are similarly detected and tracked through these databases. Records are becoming accessible to police from any state of India.[149] It is getting difficult to obtain new driving licenses and arms license from another state, once it is impounded.[150]

Ghost employees are being detected in thousands and billions of rupees are being saved on their salary, benefits, pensions and PF.[98][101][102]

Village money-lenders are losing their business of high interest rates (240% to 360% per annum) causing debt-traps to poor as the Aadhaar-enabled financial inclusion is taking place slowly.[23][51][52]


Unfounded fears[edit]

Some people oppose Aadhaar due to unfounded fears and ignorance. The government officers and police still can access our private data given for banking, tax PAN, passport, voter card, driving license, property registration etc.[151]

Politically-motivated opposition[edit]

Some politically motivated people have been opposing Aadhaar. These people ignore socio-economic benefits brought by the technological marvels of instant and accurate verification of identity. They seem to oppose it just for the sake of electoral benefits rather than better governance and development of Indian society. In addition, the beneficiaries of corruption are naturally opposed to its anti-corruption properties. Although the parliament has passed the UIDAI budget five times in five years between 2009 and 2014 and the UIDAI-2010 bill has been introduced in the parliament, yet there is some opposition.[152][153][35][152][154][155][156][19]

Pending bill[edit]

The Union cabinet headed by the Prime Minister of India cleared the National Identification of India Bill-2010 on 8 October 2013. The text of the bill is here.[157] It has been introduced in the Parliament (Rajya Sabha) as bill # LXXV of 2010 by the UPA-2 government in January 2014.[158] Till the bill is passed, UIDAI will continue to function under the executive order, Aadhaar enrollment will continue as planned and optional use of Aadhaar number will continue for various services. Once the bill is passed, the incumbent government can make Aadhaar mandatory for various services particularly the subsidy payout to prevent corruption and leakage.[159][160]

The parliament has passed the UIDAI budget five times in five years between 2009 and 2014.[152] There are plenty of support to Aadhaar with highlighted benefits.[37][161]

Supreme Court[edit]

The Supreme Court of India had passed an Interim Order on 23 September 2013 that no public services such as LPG be denied to public due to mandatory use of Aadhaar. Optional use of Aadhaar is fine.[162][163]

However, the government maintained that it does not deny public services such as LPG at market rate (i.e. non-subsidized). However, Aadhaar will continue to be mandatory for receiving social security benefits like subsidy on LPG. Those who do not want social security benefits can continue without Aadhaar. The Supreme Court made no such statement that Aadhaar or UIDAI is illegal and invalid.[164][165][166]

On 24 March 2014, the SC made its ruling on optional versus mandatory. The SC said that Aadhaar will not be mandatory for any public service including subsidy payouts. SC did not say that Aadhaar enrollment, its optional use and UIDAI are illegal, therefore enrollments and optional use will continue as planned. Optional use of Aadhaar as ID proof, age proof and address proof for various public services will continue as usual e.g. passport, driving license, PAN, bank account, insurance etc. This restriction of SC on mandatory use of Aadhaar for public services has drawn mixed reactions from various quarters. Some say that Aadhaar is required to stop leakage and corruption. Others say that governance and policy making is not the work of judiciary but that of the Executive. Thus the judiciary has overstepped.[4][163][167][168][169][170]

The central / state government will now have to pass bill in the Parliament / state legislative assembly to make mandatory use of Aadhaar for any public service to nullify the SC order constitutionally.

Illegal immigrants[edit]

There are media reports that some illegal immigrants have obtained Aadhaar based on fake or genuinely issued 3 documents - proof of identity, proof of age / DoB and proof of address. It is good to register illegal immigrants with Aadhaar system for deterrence, detection, tracking and deportation as explained below.[171]

Aadhaar is not a nationality document like the income tax PAN card and driving license; and is issued to all legal residents including the legal immigrants/ foreign nationals. If an Aadhaar-holder is found to be illegal immigrant then the person is arrested and deported; and Aadhaar data is accordingly updated as 'illegal immigrant'. If the person re-enters India illegally, then he/she cannot remain hidden, is instantly detected while availing any public service due to online authentication, identified, arrested and appropriate action is taken by law. Therefore, illegal immigrants cannot use any public service due to fear of detection that is Aadhaar-enabled such as employment, bank account, passport, PAN, driving license, voter card, PDS ration, land registration etc. In the absence of benefits of public service such as employment, bank account etc., there is no reason for people to take immense risk to enter India as illegal immigrants. Thus Aadhaar also serves as a tool of deterrence, detection, tracking and deportation.[171]

There are a few points that need thoughts and correction in law, system and attitude:[172][173][174][175][176]

  • How illegal immigrants have been obtaining genuine Indian passport, voter card, ration card, PAN card and even contesting elections before existence of Aadhaar?
  • Why are the borders of India not sufficiently guarded despite huge spending on over 2 million army and para-military forces, or there is corruption at the border?
  • How do the illegal immigrants obtain other base documents before obtaining Aadhaar - passport, PAN card, driving license, voter card etc.?
  • Why no action has been seen on the irresponsible gazetted officers and law makers - MPs and MLAs who have issued identity proof to illegal immigrants?
  • Why people do not inform the police about the Aadhaar-holder illegal immigrants they claim to know; so that Aadhaar database can be marked and deportation can happen?

Privacy concerns[edit]

To obtain Indian passport, one has to provide biometric data (face-photo, 10 fingerprint, identification mark on body, but no iris image) as well as demographic data (proof of identity, age, residence, education level, 2 references from neighbourhood, pending criminal cases) with fee. Passport is issued with an embedded electronic chip for contactless communication and tracking whereas Aadhaar letter is issued on simple paper and pdf soft-copy. Similarly, driving license of almost all states requires biometric data, education certificate and medical test report (blood group, disease details, vision, height, weight etc.). Driving license is also issued on chip-based smart card. See the comparison table 'Process comparison: Aadhaar, passport, driving license and PAN' in the above paragraph.[35][177]

Aadhaar registration collects biometric data (face-photo, 10 fingerprint, 2 iris image, but no identification mark on body) and bare minimum demographic data (proof of identity, age, residence) through enrolment form and documentary proof. Peruse the enrollment-form with data fields on page-1 and instructions on page-2.[178] Blood group and profiling information like religion, caste, income, property-holding, education etc. are not collected.[179] Thus Aadhaar collects lesser demographic data and one different biometric data (iris-image in lieu of body identification mark) in comparison to passport.

India has a law called Information Technology Act 2000 that protects, together with other laws, all types of information including the Aadhaar data from theft and misuse.[180][181]

Privacy issues and risks equally apply to information and data (with or without biometrics) provided by people to census office, tax office, passport office, driving license, vehicle registration, land and building registration, registration of birth, marriage and death, employers (current, past and prospective), banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, telephone service provider, television service provider, internet service provider, internet services (email, video, social media, search engine, chat, voice, file-storage and transfer etc.), registration at school/college, post-office and courier services, hospital registration and medical records, visa of US and UK etc. Various visa to Indians of US, UK and other countries need much more data – blood group, fingerprint, height, weight, medical exam, income details, property-holding, parents date of birth and many other details[10][151][182]

In India, government departments, public and private sectors have been using biometrics (fingerprints and face photo) for years, decades and centuries in some or all offices. Examples of fingerprints usage are: Land and building registration (since British era), Defense departments (fingerprints as service record of civilian as well as service personnel since British era till now, now also used for access and attendance), Planning Commission of India (for access and attendance), census office (for compulsory NPR), passport, road transport office (for driving license), insurance companies, information technology, BPO and healthcare companies (for access and attendance), visa of US and UK etc.[183][184][185][186][187][188][189][190][191][192]

Government also knows the movements of people thru the traffic cameras on roads, vehicle number plate, face recognition etc. Use of electronic devices such as mobile phones, emails, internet, TV, bank cards provide no privacy. At any moment the Govt. knows of geographical location of people, what talk is going on phone with whom, what one is reading, writing or watching on internet, and what TV channel one watches when and for how long (it is the source of TRP data) thru the service provider. All it is done thru device identifiers like IMEI, IP address, GPS under electronic surveillance. For this reason, Indian Embassies in London & elsewhere have switched over to mechanical type-writers in 2013.[193][194][195][196] See the article Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present) that puts more light on it.

There is public private partnership (PPP) model in most services for economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the world. All 200 Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in India are fully operated by the private company (contractor: Tata Consultancy Services) for processing of passport applications, collecting and verifying personal important documents like proof of ID, age, address and education, collecting biometric data (face-photo and 10 finger-prints) and initiating the police verification. Thus private contractor collects our biometric data and confidential personal documents. Similar arrangements are made with private contractors for income tax identifier PAN card (e.g. Bajaj Capitals, Karvy Consultancy and 100 others for collecting ID, address and age documents), for driving license for collecting biometric data (e.g. RTO in Karnataka and other states), ration card (e.g. Ration office in Karnataka and other states for collecting biometric data, ID, address and age documents and processing), voter card (e.g. Bangalore municipal corporation in Karnataka and other states for collecting ID, address and age documents and processing), speed-post delivery of the India Post that delivers our passport, PAN and other important and confidential documents.[197][198][199][200][201]

In fact, the technology and process of PAN may be called as privacy violator because the data access is not consent-based. The PAN number of any person can be obtained unauthorizedly without the knowledge or consent of the holder from the official website of the income tax department.[202] One has to just know or guess the name and date of birth to get to the PAN number of that person without his or her consent. Once the PAN number is obtained, then any public or private agency, finance company, bank, insurance can access various details of the PAN-holder including the credit-history from CIBIL, because from technological and process perspective, no consent is required to do so unlike Aadhaar. Thus it is not safe and secure; and leads to unauthorized access to various financial data which are supposed to be confidential. Therefore, such PAN based data access are violation of right to privacy. Whereas for Aadhaar authentication, holder's biometric consent (finger-print) is required from technological and process perspective to access the Aadhaar demographic data.[203][204]

Police and other government departments conduct surveillance and crack crimes thru mobile phones of individuals in all countries of the world. Location of mobile phone holder is known and call detail records (CDR) is available to government. Therefore, perhaps mobile phone is the largest violator of privacy. However, the privacy champions do not abandon the use of mobile phones and internet despite this knowledge.[205][206][207][208][209][210]

UIDAI had gone to the Supreme Court in February 2014 against the Bombay High Court order saying that it does not want to provide access to Aadhaar database for crime investigations to police or any agency without written consent of the Aadhaar-holder. Supreme Court passed the order on 24 March 2014 fully vindicating the UIDAI stand on data privacy.[169][211][212]

Therefore, like passport, income tax PAN and driving license, Aadhaar does not violate any privacy or fundamental right.[164]

Budget, cost and benefits[edit]

About Rs. 38 billion (Rs. 3800 crore) has been spent totally on Aadhaar program from inception (28 January 2009) till 31 December 2013 with enrollment of over 600 million (60 crore) persons. This cumulative expenditure is projected to be Rs. 40 billion (Rs.4,000 crore) by 31 March 2014. It includes operating costs as well as capital expenditure (infrastructure of land, building, machinery).[49] [126][213] Government informed Parliament in August 2013 that the total sanctioned cost of UIDAI (including cost of permanent infrastructure like land, buildings, computers, software etc.) is Rs. 123 billion (Rs. 12,300 crore) for assigning 1.25 billion Aadhaar numbers. Thus at the end the unit cost will be about Rs. 100 per Aadhaar.[214]

The projected cost and benefit analysis report by National Institute of Public Finance and Policy shows that Aadhaar-enabled public welfare programs will be able to save Rs. 1.1 trillion (Rs. 110,000 crore) by the year 2020.[77][215]

Tangible benefits become visible from 2014. A report of UBS Securities published in Jan 2014 shows that Aadhaar-DBT can save up to 1.2% of GDP. GDP of India is $1,800 billion, thus the saving is $22 billion (Rs. 1.32 trillion), which ultimately translates to 33% savings on overall social security spending.[3]

International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that Aadhaar-DBT will save 0.5% of GDP from corruption.[216]

Aadhaar-enabled LPG subsidy payment has saved US$1 billion till August 2013 due to reduction of bogus connections. It is expected to save more than US$2 billion once LPG subsidy through Aadhaar becomes applicable to entire country.[76] Similarly, 2/3rd of subsidised Kerosene has been saved from bogus beneficiaries in one block in Rajasthan.[76]



Aadhaar Number (AN) is 12-digit in the format of 1234-5678-9012 where the 11-digits are used as a sequence and the rightmost 1-digit as an error detection checksum. Verhoeff algorithm is used for check-sum; it only detects data-entry error and it does not correct the error for security reasons. It is supposed to be assigned to current population of 1.25 billion and future growth for centuries. Since Aadhaar uses 11-digit for sequence, therefore it has an address space of 1011 (100 billion). So AN can be assigned to 100 billion residents, and is designed not to get used up in the next 500 years.[217]


All online data communication is encrypted and secure. System is scalable to handle the registration and authentication of identities in the largest biometric database of the world. It is English and Indian multilingual (Hindi, Punjabi, Kannada etc.).

Enrollment volume is 1 million person per day, over 200 trillion matches per day, 5MB per resident goes to database size of 15 Peta Byte @ 2Kbit encryption, 30 TB of input-output per day, over 5TB of incremental data everyday. Lifecycle updates and new enrolments will continue forever.[31]

Authentication volume is 4KB packet of each authentications request of 100 million requests per day, should handle high variance on peak-time and average, instant validation (under 10 second), guaranteed audits. All changes needs to be propagated from enrolment office to all authentication systems. 1 billion audit records in 10 days (30+ billion a year), 4 TB encrypted audit logs in 10 days, audit write must be guaranteed.[31]

Design and tools[edit]

It is scalable system architecture based on distributed computing. Various tools and systems have been used like J2EE, MySql, Hadoop, HBase, MongoDB, Solr, Mule, Rabbit etc. All system communications are only thru API. When everything fails i.e. hardware, software, network, storage then the System must recover, retry transactions and do self-heal.

High degree of security, privacy and scalability is built-in from start. It is open-source, multi-product, multi-vendor system with linear growth. [31]

Development and tools[edit]

Various tools and systems have been used like J2EE, MySql, Hadoop, HBase, MongoDB, Solr, Mule, Rabbit etc. All system communications are only thru API.[31]


Aadhaar System development and testing has been done at the UIDAI technology centre at Bangalore. Pilot field testing have been done in Jharkhand state for authentication and payment of wages and social security benefits thru Aadhaar-enabled bank account (AeBA).[218][219][220]

Problem areas[edit]

Although enrolling 1.25 billion people with biometrics is the largest ever ID project in the world with lot of challenges, yet some reported problems have been compiled. Problems have been reported from the viewpoint of enrolment and delivery of the Aadhaar letter and the acceptance of Aadhaar number.

There have been reports of impolite staff, and unsatsfied queries. Most of the centres are queue based, only few centres are appointment-based. Information on camps are not published one week in advance in the locality.[93][221][222][223]


Office staff ask for original Aadhaar letter to be produced for verification when presented with printout of e-Aadhaar letter. They are not aware that Aadhaar is just a number, not a card which needs online verification with Aadhaar-database-server.[224]

E-KYC is not being used for DBT of LPG at dealer's office. Beneficiaries have been asked to submit paper-based photocopy of Aadhaar letter, bank account and linking-form in old-style. Linking thru online self-service to bank account is not available.[225][226]

Staff of some departments are not yet aware that Aadhaar can be accepted as a minimum KYC.[223] Presently RTO accepts Aadhaar letter only as additional ID, not sole ID.[223]

Some politicians and middlemen have been vehemently opposing adoption of Aadhaar for the PDS Ration, therefore, corruption in PDS continues in those states.[162]


People of some states, such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are not aware that NPR (under the Ministry of Home Affairs) is responsible for Aadhaar enrolment in those areas.[227][228]

Aadhaar letter delivery problems[edit]

The public is generally not aware of E-Aadhaar download (self-service to download pdf copy).[120][229] Aadhaar letter is not delivered by India Post after 3 months, it takes 6 to 9 months after enrolment. Intimation of the assigned Aadhaar is not given to applicants by SMS or email so that people can download their e-Aadhaar letter, without waiting for 6 to 9 months for postal delivery.[117]

News and events[edit]

  • Every second Indian (60 crore people) holds Aadhaar Number as of 9 March 2014.[230]
  • Trident (a private sector company) uses AN for Employee recruitment and salary payment.[103]
  • Aadhaar to play most prominent role in India Reforms.[2]
  • Indian information technology industry body Nasscom and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) together launched a project called 'Aadhaar Ecosystem Diffusion' at Bangalore in October 2013. It is aimed to encourage start-up companies to develop various applications economy around the Aadhaar platform.[231][232]
  • Millions of fake old-age pensioners cause billions of rupees loss to public money[233][234]
  • Millions of fake PDS ration cards cause billions of rupees loss to public money.[235]
  • Aadhaar is compulsory to access every service of State Government of Delhi wef 1 January 2013.[57][236]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


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