Embassies could leverage Aadhaar data, says Nilekani

Embassies could leverage Aadhaar data, says Nilekani

Broaching the idea, probably for the first time, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Nandan Nilekani on Saturday said that diplomatic missions in India could utilise Aadhaar data in their visa processing. In the same vein, he clarified that Aadhaar is not proof of citizenship.

Nilekani was delivering the keynote address at the conclusion of the three-day '2013 Conference of Working Group 8.6 of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP)' held at the IIM, Bangalore.

Later, asked by reporters whether any embassy has evinced interest in the Aadhar scheme, he said, “The Aadhaar number can be looked up by them, since verification of one's identity is required. However, it is only an idea at this stage, and I can't comment much about it.”
Aadhaar is the 12-digit individual identification number issued by UIDAI on behalf of the government of India that serves as proof of identity and address. It is issued free of cost to individuals.

Nilekani spoke about the tradeoff between expenditure incurred on UIDAI in issuing Aadhaar cards to about 1.25 billion Indians and the financial savings accrued thereof. “It costs about Rs 100 to 150, or about $3 to issue one Aadhaar card. So, the total cost would be about $3-4 billion. The government spends about $60 billion annually on various social benefits for individuals. If we plug ghost accounts and ensure de-duplication, the savings would be to the tune of about 10 per cent (of $60 billion).”

He informed that about 366 million people have been issued Aadhaar cards and that UIDAI is enrolling about 8 to 10 lakh individuals every day.

On forthcoming spinoffs from Aadhaar for individuals, he said the potential is huge depending on the kind of applications that emerge in coming years. “One of these is digital portability of information. The history of Aadhaar holders pertaining to health, credit and skills can be made available to concerned service providers after authorisation by them (Aadhaar holders).”

He said a key challenge to the Aadhaar project is to make it sustainable, irreversible and put in on a firm footing, even as technological and business challenges have been overcome. He assured that data collected for Aadhaar is secure and “no random movement of data is happening".

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