Nandan Nilekani led Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the Department of Information Technology (DIT) failed to secure funds for the Resident Identity Card (RIC).
The RIC card is a critical link that will enable ‘online’ usage of the Aadhaar number for the National Population Register (NPR) scheme. The NPR scheme will have to be completed before the 2014 Elections as the Govt. should have enough data to offer targeted developmental schemes like National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) and Rashtriya Swasthaya Bima Yojana (RSBY).
Why was RIC turned down? RIC is a 64Kb chip-based-card which has twin capabilities of being used anywhere for both offline and online transactions. Given the vastness of our country, taking the scheme online is not viable. While Govt. is sincerely trying to get broadband internet access to the villages using BSNL, unless that happens, this scheme will have to wait.
RIC is supposed to be compulsory for adults over 18, but “the online capability to ascertain the identity of a person is not available all the time and cannot be fully depended on” cited the Govt. Upon insisting for the online usage, Govt. highlighted 40 districts in India which are simply unreachable using online connectivity.
Thankfully, the Govt. has not out rightly rejected online usage of Aadhar, simply postponed it. Given the circumstances, it is important for the Aadhar team to be realistic. The benefits of Aadhar have to manifest themselves. Only then can the team push for additional resources to further enhance its usage. While Rs. 6000 Crores (US$ 1.2 Billion) seems like a very high amount, do you think mobile companies could help the Aadhar team especially when the data is going to help them immensely?