The ambitious Pan-India Unique Identification System, more commonly known as Aadhar, will soon begin with renewed vigor. Thanks to a healthy fund infusion of Rs. 3436 Crores (US$ 630 Million), the Fourth Phase of the enrollment will soon be initiated.
Why is Aadhar taking so long? India’s population is currently pegged at 1.2 Billion Citizens. Not to mention, Indian Territory spreads across 3.2 Million Square kilometers. But these facts don’t even begin to highlight the enormity of the task.
Aadhar is a first-of-its kind National Citizenship Identification program that will not only integrate Name, Age & Photo, but even biometric identification marks like Iris & Fingerprints. Collating this information is very complex & tricky. Besides, all the information has to be collected in a Single Database. The system cannot have segmented chunks of data which are isolated. Such anomalies will undoubtedly give rise to duplication.
So far the UID project headed by Nandan Nilekan has managed to issue more than 31 Crore Aadhar cards, within a span of 2.5 years. The Aadhar project was initiated on 29th September 2010. Furthermore, the Aadhar team is confident adding an additional 40 Million UIDs by next year.
What are financial implications? The First stage of the enrollment process cost the Government Rs. 147.31 Crores (US$ 27 Million). The Second & third phases proved highly expensive at Rs. 8814.75 Crores (US$ 1.6 Billion). Interestingly, the Fourth Phase which would still not complete the Aadhar project has been allocated Rs. 3436 Cores.
Why undertake such an expensive exercise? India could be the only country till date to have undertaken such a colossal task of documenting its entire citizenry of 1.2 billion & counting. However, there are multi-fold benefits to the project if culminated without stagnation. The Basic Aadhar database is open & companies like Mobile Service providers or Banks too can use the same for identity verification. Research has even managed to peg the advantages in the form of a monetary value – US$ 13 Billion. Now will the Indians support the system wholeheartedly?