10 things you must know about the UID project

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh handed over the first of the Aadhaar cards at Tembhli village in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra on Wednesday. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), headed by Nandan Nilekani, has endeavoured on a mammoth project to provide Indian residents with an unique 12-digit identification number that will serve multiple purposes.

Given the reach and the impact of such an exercise there is much excitement around the Unique Identity (UID) number (also known as Aadhaar) drive, along with some confusion.

Some facts about the UID project that Indian residents should be aware of:

1. Aadhaar (the UID number) is not mandatory. People can choose not to be a part of the exercise.

2. It is not restricted to Indian citizens only and is meant for residents of India, irrespective of their citizenship. An Aadhaar card does not establish citizenship of India, it is meant for identification.

3. Even people without proper identification documents can apply for Aadhaar. Authorised individuals, who already have an Aadhaar, can introduce residents who don't possess any documents to establish their identity to enable them to receive their Aadhaar.

4. Aadhar will not replace other identification documents such as ration card or passport.

5. The UIDAI will collect only biometric and demographic information about an individual and will not ask for info on caste, religion or language.

6. Date of Birth is optional (for people who don't remember/know their date of birth) and approximate age will suffice.

7. Transgenders have been included in the options under gender and they need not classify themselves as male or female.

8. Residents of India have an option to link their UID number to their bank accounts.

9. To get an UID number residents will have to go to the nearest Aadhaar enrollment camp, details of which will be published in the local media. Residents will have to carry along certain documents, mentioned in the advertisement. Residents will also be photographed and have their fingerprints and iris scanned. The Aadhaar numbers will be issued within 20-30 days.

10. The draft National Identification Authority of India bill has provisions against impersonation, providing false information and for protection of personal information collected by the UIDAI. Violations can attract penalties in the form of fines of up to Rs 1 crore and imprisonment extending up to a life term.

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