Unique Identification Authority of India
||This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (December 2011)|
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (December 2011)|
|Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)|
|भारतीय विशिष्ट पहचान प्राधिकरण|
|UIDAI (Aadhaar UIDAI new logo)|
|Jurisdiction||Government of India (Union Government)|
|Annual budget||3000 crore (US$550 million) (2010)|
|Agency executives||Nandan Nilekani, Chairman
Shri Vijay S Madan, Director General and Mission Director
|This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) (Hindi: भारतीय विशिष्ट पहचान प्राधिकरण), is an agency of the Government of India responsible for implementing the AADHAAR scheme, a unique identification project. It was established in February 2009, and will own and operate the Unique Identification Number database. The authority aims to provide a unique id number to all Indians, but not smart cards. The authority will maintain a database of residents containing biometric and other data.
The agency is headed by a chairman, who holds a cabinet rank. The UIDAI is part of the Planning Commission of India. Nandan Nilekani, former co-chairman of Infosys Technologies, was appointed as the first Chairman of the authority in June 2009. Ram Sewak Sharma, an IAS Officer of Jharkhand Government is the Director General and Mission Director of the Authority.
Salient features of AADHAAR 
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique number which the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will issue for all residents in India (on a voluntary basis). The number will be stored in a centralized database and linked to the basic demographics and biometric information – photograph, ten fingerprints and iris – of each individual. It is easily verifiable in an online, cost-effective way. It is unique and robust enough to eliminate the large number of duplicate and fake identities in government and private databases. The random number generated will be devoid of any classification based on caste, creed, religion and geography.
Pre Launch 
Before being provided with a governmental infrastructure, a core development team was assembled which included Srikanth Nadhamuni, Salil Prabhakar, R.S. Sharma, Pramod Varma and Wyly Wade, amongst other people from both the public and private sectors. This initial team provided the alpha versions of the software, designed the strategy and ran the proofs of concept in the field.
UIDAI launched AADHAAR program in the tribal village, Tembhli, in Shahada, Nandurbar, Maharashtra on 29 September 2010. The program was inaugurated by Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. The first resident to receive an AADHAAR was Ranjana Sonawane of Tembhli village.
Coverage, goals and logistics 
It is believed that Unique National IDs will help address the rigged state elections and widespread embezzlement that affects subsidies and poverty alleviation programs such as NREGA. Addressing illegal immigration into India and terrorist threats is another goal of the program. In January 2012, the government of India reiterated the goal of the UID project, "... is primarily aimed at ensuring inclusive growth by providing a form of identity to those who do not have any identity. It seeks to provide UID numbers to the marginalized sections of society and thus would strengthen equity. Apart from providing identity, the UID will enable better delivery of services and effective governance." National Population Registry (NPR) project, a distinctly separate initiative by the Home Ministry, is meant to issue national identity cards to enhance national security.
Most reports suggest that the plan is for each Indian resident to have a unique identification number with associated identifying biometric data and photographs by 2011. However, other reports claim that obtaining a unique number would be voluntary, but those that opt to stay out of the system "will find it very inconvenient: they will not have access to facilities that require you to cite your ID number."
Government distributed benefits are fragmented by purpose and region in India, which results in widespread bribery, denial of public services and loss of income, especially afflicting poor citizens. As the unique identity database comes into existence, the various identity databases (voter ID, passports, ration cards, licenses, fishing permits, border area id cards) that already exist in India are planned to be linked to it. The Authority is liaising with various national, state and local government entities to begin this process. The Union Labor Ministry has offered its verified Employment Provident Fund (EPFO) database of 42 million citizens as the first database to be integrated into the unique ID system. Contrary to various previous reports, UIDAI does not use any existing databases citing problems of fraud and duplicate/ghost beneficiaries in the existing databases. Instead, it will enroll the entire population using its multi-registrar enrollment model using verification processes prescribed by the UIDAI. This will ensure that the data collected is clean right from the beginning of the program. However, much of the poor and underserved population lack identity documents and the UID may be the first form of identification they will have access to. The Authority will ensure that the Know Your Resident (KYR) standards do not become a barrier for enrolling the poor and has devised suitable procedures to ensure their inclusion without compromising the integrity of the data. The NPR is an important partner registrar in the enrollment process.
UIDAI has headquarters in Delhi and a technology centre in Bangalore. It also has 8 regional offices in Chandigarh, Delhi, Lucknow, Ranchi, Guwahati, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore with IAS,IRS officers heading it.
Name and logo 
Projected costs and business opportunities 
The official estimates for the project is 18000 crore (US$3.3 billion). An independent analysis based on the actual and approved budget of UIDAI also puts the estimate at 18000 crore (US$3.3 billion). Older estimate provided by the critics of the project to completely roll-out National IDs to all Indian residents above the age of 18 has been placed at 150000 crore (US$27 billion). A different estimate puts it at US$ 6 billion. A sum of 100 crore (US$18 million) was approved in the 2009-2010 union budget to fund the agency for its first year of existence. UID has received a huge boost with Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of Finance, allocating 1900 crore (US$350 million) to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for 2010-11. Pranab Mukherjee has allocated 1758 crore (US$320 million) for budget year 2012-13. Amount approved for Phase I, II and III is 8962 crore (US$1.6 billion) for the period up to March, 2017.
Initial estimates project that the initiative will create 100,000 new jobs in the country, and business opportunities worth 6500 crore (US$1.2 billion) in the first phase of implementation, over three years.
Projected benefits 
- Aadhaar will become the single source of identity verification. Residents would be spared the hassle of repeatedly providing supporting identity documents each time they wish to access services such as obtaining a bank account, passport, driving license and so on.
- By providing a clear proof of identity, UID will also facilitate entry for poor and underprivileged residents into the formal banking system and the opportunity to avail services provided by the government.
- Giving migrants mobility of identity.
- Financial inclusion with deeper penetration of banks, insurance and easy distribution of benefits of government schemes.
Direct Benefit Transfer 
Direct Benefit Transfer or DBT is an anti-poverty program launched by the Government of India on 1 January 2013. This program aims to transfer subsidies directly to the people living below the poverty line through the Unique Identification Authority of India.
Aadhaar enrolment began in September 2010. As of December 31, 2011, there were 36,000 active enrolment stations in thirty two states and union territories. In February 2012, enrollment reached the originally approved target of 200 million. Enrolment commenced in the middle of April 2012 for 400 million residents being enrolled through the multi-registrar model. NPR continues to enrol in its assigned territory.
The total number of AADHAARs issued as of 16-May-2013 is over 34 crore (340 million). This is more than 28% of the population of India.
Further details are available at the UIDAI portal.
|AADHAARs Issued (state-wise)|
On 27 January 2012 The Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of India related issues (CC-UIDA1) announced that the NPR and UIDAI enrolments should proceed simultaneously. UIDAI will be allowed to enroll additional 400 million residents beyond 200 million already approved. The remaining 600 million will be enrolled by NPR and Aadhaar number of these will be issued by UIDAI. On 30 January 2012 CC-UIDAI approved budget of phase III of the scheme that covers the cost creation, storage and maintenance of data and services for harnessing the uses of Aadhaar for the entire estimated population till March 2017.
Report of the Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance 
In December 2011, Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance headed by Yashwant Sinha while considering the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 (that was to give legal backing for the whole exercise), termed the project as directionless and conceptualised with no clarity of purpose. The committee also expressed its reservations on the technology used for the project calling it "untested, unproven, unreliable and unsafe".
According to the standing committee report the scheme is riddled with serious lacunae and concerns. “The UID scheme has been conceptualized with no clarity of purpose and leaving many things to be sorted out during the course of its implementation; and is being implemented in a directionless way with a lot of confusion.” The report continues “…The scheme which was initially meant for BPL families has been extended for all residents in India and to certain other persons. The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), constituted for the purpose of collating the two schemes namely, the UID and National Population Register(NPR), and to look into the methodology and specifying target for effective completion of the UID scheme, failed to take concrete decision on important issues…” More importantly the committee has observed that the UID scheme lacks clarity on even the basic purpose of issuing “aadhaar” number.
Financial Exclusion 
Observation 3(f) of the standing committee reads: “The full or near full coverage of marginalized sections for issuing aadhaar numbers could not be achieved mainly owing to two reasons viz. (i) the UIDAI doesn’t have the statistical data relating to them; and (ii) estimated failure of biometrics is expected to be as high as 15% due to a large chunk of population being dependent on manual labour.” Even the Ministry of Planning in their written reply to the standing committee stated that “failure to enroll is a reality”.
The introducer system wont be of much use. How many introducers or GOs would be there to introduce millions of slum dwellers, tribal population, or in rural India where they hardly have electricity or internet connectivity? (friendly government school teachers who rang your door bell a year ago may perhaps know some of them) If they can find some introducers, why can’t some anti-social elements too can find out some others? The result would be disastrous for our national security for innumerable foreign national (including terrorists) would be enrolled in Aadhaar database with local addresses. Chances are that many more people in rural India where there is no electricity and internet connectivity will be excluded from social welfare schemes even if they acquire aadhaar number.
The committee in observation 3(d) notes: “Continuance of various existing forms of identity and the requirement of furnishing, other documents‟ for proof of address, even after issue of aadhaar number, would render the claim made by the Ministry that Aadhaar number is to be used as a general proof of identity and proof of address meaningless”. UIDAI clearly says that UID is no substitutes for existing Ids and The Working Paper of the UIDAI which starts with a claim that UID will help the poor access various services ends with a caveat: “UID will only guarantee identity, not rights, benefits and entitlements”
Dependency on Private Players 
“The National Informatics Centre (NIC) have pointed out that the issues relating to privacy and security of UID data could be better handled by storing in a Government data centre;” . Even then the UID project is dependent on private players. The committee further notes: “9. The Committee are afraid that the scheme may end up being dependent on private agencies, despite contractual agreement made by the UIDAI with several private vendors. As a result, the beneficiaries may be forced to pay over and above the charges to be prescribed by the UIDAI for availing of benefits and services, which are now available free of cost “ . UIADAI has entered into contracts with several government and non-government agencies for enrollment and data collection. The private companies include foreign companies like L1 Identity solutions (now MorphoTrust USA) and Accenture that have even ex-CIA officials on board and as staff.
National Security 
The committee has expressed concern over the implications of the Project Aadhaar on national security. It said: “The Committee are unable to understand the rationale of expanding the scheme to persons who are not citizens, as this entails numerous benefits proposed by the Government” “This will, they apprehend, make even illegal immigrants entitled for an aadhaar number”. The committee especially is concerned about the efficacy of introducer system on national security. As opined by many the introducer system could result in many anti-national and anti-social elements acquiring aadhaar numbers on false addresses.
Relationship with National Population Registry 
UIDAI is using data collected by the Census authorities to prepare the National Population Register(NPR) for creating the UIDs. The NPR is not an exclusive database of Indian Citizens. It contains data on all residents of the country including foreigners. Therefore, issuing UIDs based on the data in the NPR would help illegal migrants get these IDs and would allow them access the government services and programs. Nationality of the individual is one of the variables being recorded during the enumeration of NPR. But the instruction to the Census personnel says:"Nationality of each person has to be asked from the respondent and recorded as declared by him". The officials have been asked to advise people to give correct nationality and that he/she can be penalized for giving false information. Such advise may not work with illegal migrants. The responsibility of proving the identity still lies on the shoulders of residents and not on UIDAI.
Potential privacy and civil liberty issues 
Some activists have expressed concerns that Aadhaar has potentials for civil liberty and privacy violations, especially when registrars include non-government agencies. Many eminent personalities, including former Supreme Court Justice. V R Krishna Iyer, Historian Romila Thapar, Independent Law Researcher Dr. Usha Ramanathan, Magsaysay Award winner Aruna Roy, and Booker prize winner Arundhathi Roy have questioned the legal validity of the whole exercise. The standing committee on finance observes that: ”The clearance of the Ministry of Law & Justice for issuing aadhaar numbers, pending passing the Bill by Parliament, on the ground that powers of the Executive are co-extensive with the legislative power of the Government and that the Government is not debarred from exercising its Executive power in the areas which are not regulated by the legislation does not satisfy the Committee. The Committee are constrained to point out that in the instant case, since the law making is underway with the bill being pending, any executive action is as unethical and violative of Parliament‟s prerogatives.” The committee also observed that a National Data Protection Law is “a pre-requisite for any law that deals with large scale collection of information from individuals and its linkages across separate databases. Itwould be difficult to deal with the issues like access and misuse of personal information, surveillance, profiling, linking and matching of data bases and securing confidentiality of information etc.“ The UIDAI’s claim that it has incorporated data protection principles within its policy and implementation framework does not satisfy the committee.
In another observation that could raise many questions on the legalities of collections of biometrics even for NPR, the committee notes that “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information of individuals without amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955 as well as the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation, which needs to be examined in detail by Parliament”.
The committee deliberated at length on the civil liberty perspective of the project and considered opinions from eminent personalities in the field of law and civil rights. And speaking on the possibilities of data misuse, it notes that “The Committee are at a loss to understand as to how the UIDAI, without statutory power, could address key issues concerning their basic functioning and initiate proceedings against the defaulters and penalize them.” The committee also notes that the scheme leads to ID fraud as prevalent in some countries.
Cabinet and Parliamentary approval 
The former chief minister of Kerala, V. S. Achuthanandan claimed in July 2011 that the program was being launched without "proper debate" in parliament. Other activists have expressed similar concerns. In a letter to the Prime Minister in November 2011, home minister P. Chidambaram has also expressed discomfort about the fact that the project has no cabinet clearance, and hence, may be questioned at a later date.
On 17 December 2011 parliamentary standing committee on finance chaired by Yashwant Sinha rejected the proposed bill by saying: “…the Committee categorically convey their unacceptability of the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010…The Committee would, thus, urge the Government to reconsider and review the UID scheme.…”
This was the conclusion of Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance (SCoF), which examined the Bill to convert the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) into a statutory authority. With this categorical rebuff, the SCoF dealt a body blow to the Aadhaar project, which is being implemented from September 2010 without Parliament's approval.
Economic risks 
The projected costs of the Aadhaar project have been quoted between US$6 billion and US$30.42 billion. These costs may not be covered by future revenue produced from the project, which is estimated at US$1.32 billion. The benefits arising from reduction in leakages with modest assumptions are estimated to be 52.85% as mentioned in the cost and benefit analysis done by National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
Parliaments standing Committee on Finance committee discussed at length on the financial implications of the project as evident from page 23-25 of their report. Till date Rs.3170.32 crores have been allotted for the project. More fund clearance is on the anvil. Rs. 8861 crore has been approved for Phase III of the project. There are no clear figures available on the financial burden the project could incur while some independent estimates pegs the cost as high as Rs.1,50,000crores. As was the case with UK ID project, the cost will escalate for sure. Lets quote from the report of the standing committee on finance : “(a) no committee has been constituted to study the financial implications of the UID scheme; and (b) comparative costs of the aadhaar number and various existing ID documents are also not available. The Committee also note that Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the UID Scheme has been done much later in April, 2011. The Committee thus strongly disapprove of the hasty manner in which the UID scheme has been approved. Unlike many other schemes / projects, no comprehensive feasibility study, which ought to have been done before approving such an expensive scheme, has been done involving all aspects of the UID scheme including cost-benefit analysis, comparative costs of aadhaar number and various forms of existing identity, financial implications and prevention of identity theft, for example, using hologram enabled ration card to eliminate fake and duplicate beneficiaries.”
Using the UIDAI own data - UIDAI Model, Aadhaar is dependent on biometrics being reliable enough to guarantee that there is a one-to-one correspondence between real people and electronic identities on the CIDR (central ID repository).
In December 2010, UIDAI self-published a report on their proof of concept trial designed to test, among other things, whether biometrics are reliable enough to guarantee that every entry on the CIDR is unique. UIDAI's figures published show error rate at .01% using finger print and iris only, this low rate combined with photograph match can achieve the desired unique identification.
In December 2011, UIDAI conducted a study  using the enrolment of 8.4 crore (84 million) residents and obtained statistical results to measure the efficacy of use of biometrics for de-duplication of Indian population. The test was conducted on a production scale (comprising biometric data of 84 million residents in 32 States and Union Territories). The accuracy of actual recorded biometric was found to be several order higher than the accuracy achieveable by the critics.
The key results of the study are summarized below:
|Efficacy of Biometrics in AADHAAR Enrolment|
The study lays to rest the fear that the use of biometric technology in the Indian context would be unreliable and flawed. It has been affirmed that UIDAI’s biometric capability for enrolments is ready to handle high throughput (10 lakh Aadhaars per day), accuracy (99.965% on duplication detection) and scale (database can be of 1.2 billion people). The UIDAI since issuing the first Aadhaar number on September 29, 2010 in Tembhali, Maharashtra has issued over 10 crore Aadhaar numbers as of Dec 31st 2011, making it one of the largest biometric systems in the world.
The primary design decisions that have enabled achievement of this high degree of accuracy and scale are:
The UIDAI conducted a detailed analysis of the biometric accuracy and performance based on 8.4 crore Aadhaar enrollments. This analysis has resulted in the UIDAI releasing this paper “The Role of Biometric Technology in Aadhaar Enrollment”).
Some of the key findings of this paper include:
Based on the analysis, the UIDAI confirms that the enrollment system has proven to be reliable, accurate and scalable to meet the nation’s need of providing unique Aadhaar numbers to the entire population. It is asserted that the system will be able to scale to handle the entire population. The analysis resulting from such a large data set (8.4 crore enrollments) is empirically repeatable and statistically accurate.
The enrollment process includes concept of exception that allows for enrollment of a person without collectible biometric. It is meant for persons with missing fingers or eyes. The enrollment agncies have exploited this feature to enroll fictitious identies. For example, a coriander plant in rural Andhra Pradesh received its unique identification number and of course a card for itself with the photo of a mobile phone. An Aadhaar card with number : 4991 1866 5246 was issued in the name of Mr Kothimeer (Coriander), Son of Mr Palav (Biryani), Mamidikaya Vuru (Village Raw Mango), of Jambuladinne in Anantapur district. As the card displayed the photo of a mobile phone, officials have no clue of the address where the card has to be delivered'  or how over 30,000 UIDs were generated by using the fingerprint of a man who was exemployee . This is on top of the earlier snafus of identity proof being handed out without any verification at West Delhi MP Mahabal Mishra's residence. , a wanted terrorist getting an UID under a false name , or even giving a man an UID card with the picture of a woman . UIDAI has promised to fix the loopholes in "ver 2" beginning June 2012.
Legal challenges 
K S Puttaswamy, a retired judge of Karnataka High Court filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of UIDAI. The petition, among other things, argued that:
See also