Nandan Nilkenai Assumes As UID Chief
Nandan Nilekani assumed his position as the chairman of the Unique Identification Database Authority of India today and started work on the government's ambitious project to provide a single identity number and card to each of the country's 1.17 billion people.
Nilekani, who met the reporters briefly after assuming office at Yojana Bhavan, said that the main task of the authority would be to create a database that will help in issuing unique identity cards.
"This will be a nationwide system of authentication," said the 54-year-old co-founder of Infosys Technologies, who was personally selected by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to head the project with the rank of a cabinet minister.
"Identity is important for everyone, especially for the poor. Getting an identity is a tough job. We will provide a database of residents. We will have a very simple database in biometrics. We will only have very basic information," he said.
Nilekani said that the authority will not issue the biometric cards itself -- but the database it is creating will help government agencies to undertake that task.
The main purpose of the project, he said, was to avert the need for multiple proofs of identity for citizens while availing any government service, or for private needs like opening bank accounts or seeking telephone connections.
It is also expected to enhance national security by helping to identify illegal aliens.
Nilekani has already met Communications and Information Technology Minister A. Raja and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, seeking their support for the project.
Over the next few weeks, he intends to create the requisite administrative infrastructure to deal with the ambitious project. "We will pick up talent from both government and outside. We will also have biometric experts and others for security and identity management," he said.