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Indian Government Constitutes Panel For National ID Project

Photo of Nandan Nilekani

The Indian government has announced the constitution of a Council of ministers to advice the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and ensure coordination between the Ministries, stakeholders and partners, and identify specific milestones for early completion of the project.

Under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan, the council members include:

1. Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of Finance.
2. Sharad Pawar, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution
3. P. Chidambaram, Minister of Home Affairs
4. S.M. Krishna, Minister of External Affairs
5. M. Veerappa Moily, Minister of Law and Justice
6. Kapil Sibal, Minister of Human Resource Development
7. C.P. Joshi Minister of Rural Development & Minister of Panchayati Raj
8. Mallikarjun Kharge, Minister of Labour and Employment
9. A. Raja, Minister of Communications and Information Technology
10. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission
11. Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, UIDAI

Note that Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of the UIDAI has been given the rank of a cabinet minister following his appointment to the UIDAI. Nilekani took office on the 23rd of July as the Chairman of the UIDAI.

Infosys Plans To Bid For Projects; Nilekani Shareholding

Nilekani is the co-founder and former co-Chairman of Infosys Technologies, and continues to own 8,345,870 (approximately 1.46 percent) shares of Infosys Technologies, as of the quarter ending June 2009. His wife Rohini Nilekani owns 8,078,174 (1.41 percent) shares, and son Nihar and daughter Jahnavi own 1,665,791 (0.29 percent) shares each, as a part of the “Promoter and Promoter Group” holdings. Infosys intends to bid for the project under the UIDAI, and does not believe there’s a conflict of interest, reports Outlook. We think Nilekani should choose one of the two: Infosys or the UIDAI.

Should The National ID Card Be A Sim Card?

MChek CEO Sanjay Swamy had put forth the proposition on MediaNama, and an interesting debate followed in the comments:

Points in Favour

— Helps fight terrorism by making tracking easier. Within a matter of minutes government can track where a particular identity holder is.
— Issue of children not having phones can be taken care of with multiple SIM phones.
— Voting through mobile could solve issues of not finding an election card, and the inertia against getting out of house and stand in queue at polling booth

Saurabh Nanda

— Suggests that the National ID card have a non-removable part, which is the ID, and a removable part, which is a SIM card

Points Against

Prashant Singh:
— The ID should be a hub and spoke model, with the ID number at the hub. It is sensitive data, any should telecom operators with significant foreign shareholding have access to that data?
— While the ID card is unique to every person, a phone connection is often shared, particularly in rural India
— Such vital information should not be kept on a Live network, in order to protect from ID Theft
— Most cellphone devices lack the capability of communicating with other system/device, and using a sim card for this purpose is complicated. Particularly for rural consumers, a swipe based card will be best.

— What happens if you have a dispute with your telecom operator?

Sriram Vadlamani
— The national ID project is for everyone – including children

— It’s cumbersome to remove a sim card from a handset, when all you need is a photo ID for verification.

Ram Banerjee
— Difficult to tell the difference between real code in security domain and trojan code in security domain. Secure domain access controlled by operator. No communication without airtime.
— Voting with absolute identity is absolutely opposite to the idea of a secret ballot. Need an anonymous ID card (proves right to vote but not identity).

— You cannot force any body to have mobile phone and atleast government cannot afford subsidy on Mobile phones.

Rakendu Sharma
— Do we have connectivity (telecom) in each part of the India?
— There are places in India where there is no electricity how will they recharge there mobiles?
— Issue of updating biometric, pictorial data via mobile
— The present distribution of SIM cards in the India, will not be secure

— Why The SIM Card Should Be India’s National ID Card
— Smart Cards For National ID In India; Need For Single ID? Impact On Mobile Biz

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