The Union Cabinet of the Indian Government has approved the creation of a digital database of the “usual residents” of India, called the National Population Register (NPR); the project shall cover 1.2 billion people, and is expected to cost Rs 35.39 billion. The database, which will include photographs and biometic information like fingerprints will feed into the National Unique Identification project. The draft database, once finalized, will be sent to Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) for biometric duplication and assigning of a unique identification number. This UID number will be added to the NPR database.

As we had reported earlier, the UIDAI intends to open up its API to allow private companies to use its authentication services. The UID project is expected to start issuing ids in the next 12-18 months time and plans to cover 600 million within four years.

Data Collection

The data collection for the NPR will begin with the House listing and Housing Census starting in April 2010 and will be completed in a phased manner by September 2010. It will be digitized and translated into English and the official language of every individual state. This will be followed by collection or capture of photographs and 10 fingerprints of all individuals aged 15 years and above.

The Unique ID project is believed to be critical, since it is expected to provide key identification information for Indian citizens, in order to facilitate the provision of various government and non-government services. Authentication of information is an issue in India, whether when related to opening a bank account or getting a mobile phone connection.

Working With State Governments

An MoU has already been signed between the Madhya Pradesh State Government and the UIDAI, according to which the UIDAI will prescribe the process for enrollment including type of data to be collected and than verify the collected database to avoid duplication. After verification the UID number issued will be communicated directly to the individual and electronically to the Registrar. It will also prescribe limits to fees that will be charged for issuing the UID number.

In the Economic Survey of 2010, it was proposed that the one of the uses of UIDs would be to replace the existing system of distributing subsidized food grains through the PDS stores with coupon system. The Life Insurance Corporation of India is already in talks with UIDAI to issue unique ids to 257 million policy holders. There is huge potential for the UIDs in the mobile payments space also.

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