UIDAI's Aadhaar Project: Challenges Ahead
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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.
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Nandan Nilekani Steps In
The UPA government aimed to get the most influential minds to work on the national identity card project. Thus in June 2009, Singh invited Nilekani to be in charge of this initiative. Singh offered him the post of the chairman of the UIDAI. He was also given the rank of a union cabinet minister. According to officials, the cabinet minister post was offered to Nilekani since it carried special powers that would grant him special independence during the implementation of the project...
The Pilot Project
In October 2010, the UIDAI launched the pilot project in Karnataka. Commenting on the launch, M N Vidyashankar, Principal Secretary to the Departments of Information Technology, Biotechnology, Science and Technology, and e-Governance, in Karnataka, said, "Karnataka will be the first state in the country wherein the multi-purpose ID numbers will be rolled out. The entire state will be covered under the pilot project."...
Why is Aadhaar Necessary?
Nilekani in his book, Imagining India, mentioned that the Indians had a multitude of ID cards. They could have all or some of these: a passport ID, a ration card, a permanent account number (PAN) if they paid taxes, and a voter ID card when registering to vote in elections. The databases having these identity proofs were located in disconnected silos which made it difficult for anyone to zero in on a definite identity for each citizen...
The Aadhaar project, however, had faced criticisms since its inception. The parliamentary Standing Committee had questioned the very necessity of such a project since the NPR was already in place to collect the biometric details of the citizens. The Home Ministry raised similar objections over UIDAI collecting biometric data when its own NPR could do equally well and added that Aadhaar would only duplicate the data and increase expenses...
The Road Ahead
Despite facing several problems, Nilekani was poised to reach UIDAI's target of covering 200 million citizens by March 2012. According to deputy director of Technology, UIDAI, Ashok Dalwai, "Once we have achieved this, we would be the world's largest bio metric identification system in the world." It was reported that in a span of one and a half years, Aadhaar had equaled the size of the world's largest biometric database that was in the US...
Exhibit I: Logo of Aadhaar