New Delhi: The government on Wednesday finally kicked-off one of the most ambitious projects in the country, to provide unique identity number to each of its one billion-plus citizens, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi handing over the first set of such identity cards to some villagers in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra.
The Unique Identification Numbers, Aadhaar, were handed over to 10 adivasis from the tribal hamlet of Tembhli today.
Ranjana Sonawane became the first Indian to get the UID number.
Besides Singh and Gandhi, the function was attended by
Maharashtra Governor K Shankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Ashok
Chavan, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh
Alhuwalia and UIDAI chief Nandan Nilekani.
Addressing the function, the Prime Minister said the
issuing of unique identity cards is a beginning of a big
effort for the welfare of the common man.
"The poor did not have any identity proof. Due to this
shortcoming, they could not open bank accounts or get ration
cards. They could not avail the benefits of government welfare
programmes because of this and many times, these benefits were
pocketed by others," Singh said.
He said those who are economically and socially
backward will be the biggest beneficiaries of this programme.
"We will give every opportunity to live a dignified
life to our poor, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes
people," he said.
Singh also said the rolling out of the unique numbers
displayed a symbol of a new and modern India. "We are moving
fast in the field of technology. Nowhere in the world,
technology has been used in such a big way. I hope every
citizen will get this number very soon," he said.
Gandhi also echoed similar views saying the unique
identification numbers will help plug the loopholes in the
Public Distribution System (PDS). "The problem of fake ration
cards will be over now," she said.
The project is being implemented by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which began working in August 2009 and promised to deliver the numbers within 12 to 18 months.
The UIDAI, which is headed by Nandan Nilekani, is using data collected by Census authorities to prepare the National Population Register (NPR) to create the UIDs.
The Unique ID Mission aims at delivering the `Aadhaar` number to every resident in the country, besides setting up a cost-effective, ubiquitous authentication infrastructure to easily verify these identities online and in real-time.
The unique identity project would ensure the uniqueness of the `Aadhaar` by linking them to biometric attributes like fingerprints and iris scans, a Planning Commission statement said, adding, “This will help agencies and service providers across India clean out duplicates and fakes from their databases.”
“The elimination of duplicate, ghost and fake identities across various schemes is expected to substantially improve the efficiency of the delivery systems by ensuring that the leakages are reduced and the benefits reach the right people,” it added.
Pointing out the lack of identity proof available with large numbers of citizens, especially the poor ones, the statement said that this lack disables the most marginalized section of the society in accessing any benefit of various programmes launched by the government for them.
“The Aadhaar number will ease these difficulties in identification, by providing a nationally valid and verifiable single source of identity proof,” it added.
(With PTI/IANS inputs)