Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the biometric identity card would prove beneficial for the poor and unemployed population.
Singh along with Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi handed over the 210th million Aadhaar card to a villager in Dudu village on Saturday (October 20).
India gears up to build the largest biometric database in the world with the aim of providing most of its 1.2 billion citizens a Unique Identification (UID), perhaps the biggest challenge is smudged fingerprints.
Singh said he has been told that the federal government aims to issue 600 million biometric identity cards by 2014 and it will prove beneficial for the poor.
"This project has been started so that it benefits billions of people who are affected by poverty, unemployment and ill health," said Singh.
India's Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Ministers of State for Communication and IT and Planning Sachin Pilot and Ashwani Kumar respectively, along with Nandan Nilekani attended the event, which was witnessed by over hundred thousand locals.
The UID project, named "Aadhaar", is estimated to cost some $2.2-$4.4 billion to implement, but will bring in an equal amount in savings annually from the elimination of duplicate and false identities.
Not only is the project a boon for companies and government agencies alike the card would empower people to battle graft as they access welfare services and schemes.
Singh said this card would put an end to the role of middlemen.
"Usually complaints are received that gas connections, diesel and fertilizers that are being provided at subsidised rates are not reaching the people who rightfully deserve it. By using these biometric identity cards, these benefits can be provided cash. This number will make sure that the money is given to the right person and puts an end to the role of middlemen," said Singh.
The UID card would be saving companies and government agencies the expensive and time-consuming process of verifying and establishing identities.
The project has already drawn the interest of mobile services firms and technology giants including Tata Consultancy Services, Microsoft and Google, who are expecting to better target and reduce waste in India's multi-billion dollar welfare schemes, including pensions.
Gandhi said the biometric identity card would enable the neglected section of the society to avail public services without any hindrance.
"This Aadhaar number (biometric identity card) is not just a proof of identity but will also help the citizens to exercise their fundamental right to avail public services. Poor people who have been cornered by the system will be able to get their right by using this card," said Gandhi.
With an estimated 75 million people homeless and millions others criss-crossing the country as migrant workers with little or no documentation, the UIDAI has its work cut out.
UIDAI is working with Census 2011 survey, as well as local government bodies and NGOs to reach millions, including an estimated 410 million people living on less than $1.25 a day, a blot on India's otherwise compelling growth story. (ANI)