Direct cash transfer facility for UID cardholders: Nilekani

The Unique Identification project has enrolled 270 million people in last three years, UID project chief Nandan Nilekani said.

New Delhi: The Unique Identification project has enrolled 270 million people in last three years and the data collected through it can be used to provide various benefits like direct cash transfer to cardholders, UID project chief Nandan Nilekani said on Monday.

Addressing a gathering here, Nilekani also expressed the need to make the project irreversible by providing "compelling services" to the people.

"This is three years since we launched this project. We have enrolled 270 million people into the system and issued unique numbers to 220 million people. We enroll at the rate of over a million people a day. So let’s say we can do Finland in a week and Australia in three weeks," he said.

Replying to a question on the future of the project under a new government after the 2014 general election, Nilekani said, "What is required is to make it irreversible, that is the way to look at this problem."

"In our view, if half a billion people in this country have this identity number and if they are getting a couple of very compelling services through this number then their voices will speak for it," he said.

Nilekani described the UID project as a platform which can be used to provide various benefits to the people.

"The first big application we are doing on this is direct cash transfer. Government spends billions of dollars in giving benefits to people like pensions, scholarships etc.

We are building a system along the banking sector to electronically credit money into people`s bank account," he said.

Terming direct cash transfer as the first big application
based on UID numbers, Nilekani said, "We expect many other applications built on this. For example, it will make easier for people to get their mobile connection and bank accounts. It can also be used for storing health-care records."

Asked whether he would have successfully carried on the project without the support of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Nilekani said, "You cannot do a project of this scale and magnitude without very strong support from the Prime Minister and lot of other people who matter."

He compared the UID project with Internet and Global Positioning System (GPS), which were initially developed by the United States for military applications but were later on introduced for civilian purposes.