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Unique Identity for Indians now a reality; PM, Sonia launch ‘Aadhaar’

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday finally kicked-off one of the most ambitious projects in the country, to provide unique identity number to each of its one billion-plus citizens, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi handing over the first set of such identity cards to some villagers in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra.

The Unique Identification Numbers, Aadhaar, were handed over to several residents of Tembhli village in Nandurbar.

Ranjana Sonawane became the first Indian to get the UID number.

The project is being implemented by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which began working in August 2009 and promised to deliver the numbers within 12 to 18 months.

The UIDAI, which is headed by Nandan Nilekani, is using data collected by Census authorities to prepare the National Population Register (NPR) to create the UIDs.

The Unique ID Mission aims at delivering the ‘Aadhaar’ number to every resident in the country, besides setting up a cost-effective, ubiquitous authentication infrastructure to easily verify these identities online and in real-time.

The unique identity project would ensure the uniqueness of the ‘Aadhaar’ by linking them to biometric attributes like fingerprints and iris scans, a Planning Commission statement said, adding, “This will help agencies and service providers across India clean out duplicates and fakes from their databases.”

“The elimination of duplicate, ghost and fake identities across various schemes is expected to substantially improve the efficiency of the delivery systems by ensuring that the leakages are reduced and the benefits reach the right people,” it added.

Pointing out the lack of identity proof available with large numbers of citizens, especially the poor ones, the statement said that this lack disables the most marginalized section of the society in accessing any benefit of various programmes launched by the government for them.

“The Aadhaar number will ease these difficulties in identification, by providing a nationally valid and verifiable single source of identity proof,” it added.

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