India can boast the most ambitious large scale national ID project in the world. The nation’s’ UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) was created in 2009 to spearhead the Aadhaar number program, which seeks to biometrically register India’s massive population and serve each citizen with a unique 12-digit ID number correlated to their nationally stored data.
The Aadhaar number has something in common with basic, non-biometric national ID seen throughout the world implemented via birth certificates and driver’s license schemes, but it is also so much more than proof of citizenship. Today, as part of National ID Month at FindBiometrics, we’re going to be looking at four unique aspects of the Aadhaar program.
Being a registered citizen is not without its share of responsibility, and when it comes to national ID card information, keeping everything up to date is an important part of receiving the benefits of registration. When it comes to Aadhaar, it sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare to keep such a massive database updated with the right information, especially considering some of the remote locations citizens can reside in. Thankfully, UIDAI has its bases covered in this manner, offering online self-service info updating.
The process of updating personal information is quick and easy. Once the relevant information (like a new address) is edited, a new card is issued and mailed to the citizen.
Of course, as easy as the updating is there’s still room for improvement. The Times of India has reported that some updated cards have taken nearly five months to arrive by mail. Mobile credentialing seems like the obvious answer to this conundrum, but until the delivery infrastructure improves there’s not much than can be done about that. Still, all things considered, Indian citizens have it easy in terms of keeping their info up to date with the government.
Registration is Healthy
National ID can do more than prove your identity and citizenship, it can also be used to administer essential services. When it comes to Aadhaar, this includes healthcare. Last year India’s National Health Assurance Mission (NHAM) put forward an initiative to offer federally provided healthcare to all its citizens. A key component of this national health plan is the Aadhaar ID card.
The delivery of India’s national healthcare plan is coordinated using the country’s biometric registry. Under the plan, which has been met with applause, citizens can be provided with 50 essential drugs and 30 AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), as well as other healthcare services.
Showing Up To Work
India’s Central government is using the Aadhaar biometric IDs to keep better track of its staff’s work hours. At the beginning of this year we reported on the government’s initiative to install biometric attendance tracking devices, which had at that point already seen 54 offices outfitted with the systems. Primarily, the Aadhaar-based attendance tracking systems are fingerprint based, but a few also operate using iris recognition.
Recently, the government’s Aadhaar attendance tracking was implemented on the municipal level, with the city of Vijayawada aiming to bring greater accountability to waste management. In response to complaints from residents that their trash wasn’t being collected, despite workers’ claims of having done their jobs, the The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation decided to let biometrics settle the dispute.
A database containing biometric and contextual information on citizens is a powerful tool. Having hard proof that a person is who they say they claim to be is indispensible when it comes to offering services and benefits of all kinds, and that’s why telecommunications companies have recently started to lay down some pressure on the Indian government to allow them access to the Aadhaar database.
The argument from the telecoms is that having biometric registration would be a much more efficient way of offering phone services to customers when compared to the current paperwork-laden process. When combined with the online update feature described at the top of this article, a serious amount of administrative time can be saved with Aadhaar-based signups.
That said, not everyone in the government thinks this is such a good idea. While the Department of Telecommunications is in favor of this database sharing, the Ministry of Home Affairs is holding out, citing security concerns.
Stay posted to FindBiometrics throughout September as we continue this conversation with National ID Month. Take part in the discussion by following us on Twitter and tweeting with the hashtag #FBNational.
September 10, 2015 – by Peter B. Counter