Although the 18-month gestation period from the time Nandan Nilekani took over as the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in July 2009 will only get over in January 2011,the year 2010 is going to be crucial for his plans
to ensure smooth roll-out of UIDs.
While a Cabinet committee on UID has been constituted under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to fast-track the necessary clearances required for this ambitious project,a lot needs to be done in 2010 to make it a reality. An important step would be a legislation to provide statutory status to UIDAI,which can be also leveraged as an incentive for early adoption by various public and private stakeholders,along with giving it powers to regulate its own affairs independently.
In terms of operational logistics,the project,which aims to provide a unique identity to every resident,needs to develop uniform biometric as well as demographic data standards. The UIDAI has constituted a committee each for this,with the report of the demographic data standards committee already being submitted.
The UIDAI also needs to work out feasible enrolment strategies for rural and urban,literate and illiterate,rich and poor alike to ensure that no willing resident is left out of the project. In this context,the UIDAI has already floated the idea of roping in multiple registrars,ranging from government agencies to banks,oil companies and insurance firms for the task. The challenge would be to motivate and incentivise these registrars. Nilekani has been meeting state governments and other agencies in this regard.
The next step would be the real issue of capturing data both biometric and demographic. The technology needs to be put in place.
Another crucial aspect would be the complaint handling mechanism,which would require dealing with a variety of unforeseen aspects during the roll-out phase.
With a target of 600 million people registered within the next five years,the technology to handle all the database need to be foolproof. The UIDAI has already invited proposals for this.