Worlds most ambitious people database launches in India

Worlds most ambitious people database launches in India

This week, Infosys co-founder and billionaire Nandan Nilekani stood watch as the first step of the “Unique Identification Authority of India” database of every Indian citizen took its first step to reality in the field. Nilekani retired from Infosys to take on this role last year and the position has the rank of a Cabinet Minister.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi traveled to village of Tembhili (population 1,500) in Nandurbar district of western Maharashtra state and handed ID numbers to 10 people, including three children. Using including an iris scans, finderprints and other biometric methods, the system will log details of India’s population of 1.2 billion people into a central database. Every Indian will be issued a 12-digit ID number which they will use to receive welfare handouts, to apply for other documents like passports and even to open bank accounts. The whole process may take another four years.

India hopes that this will prevent corrupt officials from faking the names of people seeking welfare benefits or access to education – potentially saving billions of dollars. Corruption continues to be a significant problem in India and poor, rural citizens are often denied the benefits budgeted for them, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which promises 100 days of work to any Indian.


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