I-cards will enable poor access services: PMAugust 12th, 2009 - 8:07 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Recognising that the lack of identity proof resulted in harassment and denial of services to the poor and marginalized, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday said high priority would be given to the newly constituted Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that will provide a single identity number and card to each of the country’s 1.17 billion people.
Speaking at the first meeting of the council that will advise the UIDAI, Manmohan Singh said: “Providing identities to the poor and the marginalized will enhance their access to government services, both at the state level and the centre and will enable delivery of direct benefits to the poor and under-served.”
“Specifically it will improve the delivery of flagship schemes of the central government,” he added.
The council, which was constituted earlier this month with the prime minister and all the top ministers in the government, is expected to advise the UIDAI on the programme, methodology and implementation to ensure coordination between ministries, departments, stakeholders and partners.
In his opening remarks, the prime minister emphasised the need for active participation of all government departments, both at the state and central levels, to ensure the success of the project which was both unique and challenging due to the sheer size and the numbers involved.
Nandan Nilekani, the 54-year-old co-founder of Infosys Technologies, who took charge as the chairman of the UIDAI last month, spelt out the strategy of implementing the ambitious project and outlined the benefits the UIDAI would bring to all stakeholders, especially the poor and marginalized of the country in the areas of service delivery, the government and the financial sector.
Nilekani also emphasised the need for establishing a legal framework for the authority in due course of time.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, the council endorsed “in principle” the draft strategy of implementation and also resolved to provide a legal framework to the UIDAI in due course.
“It also decided to make UIDAI as the apex authority to set standards for the demographic and biometric data in order to ensure inter-operability,” the statement said.
Considering the immense task at hand, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee suggested that Nilakeni make a similar presentation before the cabinet and the council of ministers.
The main purpose of this ambitious project is to avert the need for multiple proof 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.
The fact that the project is a first of its kind in India in its scope, size, technology, logistics and computing, UIDAI has been given certain flexibility in the areas of manpower, deployment and organisational structure.
The fact that the prime minister has staffed the council with all the senior-most cabinet ministers shows the importance that is being given to this project, an official said.
A national population registry is expected be ready by 2010, following which the rollout of the biometric cards will begin, the official added.
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