At least one of three Indians will possess a unique identification (UID) number by next year, said Nandan Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The authority will double the number of Indians with a UID number to 400 million by next year, Nilekani said at a press conference on the second anniversary of Aadhaar, the government’s key unique identity project. UIDAI has set a target to enrol 600 million people by 2014—which is one of every two Indians. It has already enrolled 240 million people.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will unveil the Aadhaar-enabled payment platform “which shall be the beginning of nationwide services based on Aadhaar”, said UIDAI director general R.S. Sharma. Over the last one month, the government has been taking steps to transfer cash subsidies directly to recipients of its welfare programmes in order to ensure that the benefits of such schemes reach the intended targets. Last month, the government had set up a ministerial committee headed by Singh to steer the effort that aims to prune leakages in its delivery of subsidies.Subsidy payments and benefits under different schemes amount to nearly Rs.3 trillion, roughly 3.5% of the gross domestic product, according to government estimates.