UIDAI: Overview

Unique Identification Authority of India – UIDAI

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was established in January 2009 with a vision to provide a unique identity to individuals and a platform to digitally authenticate the identity anywhere and at any given point of time. It is an agency set up by the Central Government of India to collect demographic and biometric data of the residents such as their photograph, fingerprints, and iris scans and storing them at a centralized place. UIDAI issues a 12 digit unique number called Aadhaar. It’s the world's largest project for National Identification Number.

The original legislation of March 2016 for UIDAI is still pending at Parliament. However, another money bill was introduced in the Parliament on 3rd March 2016 for the same. On March 11 2016, Aadhaar Act was passed in the Lok Subha. On March 26th 2016, the act was notified as Gazette of India.
On the September 23rd 2013, the Supreme Court of India under the interim ordered that an individual should not suffer if he does not have an Aadhaar . Since Government of India does not hold any right to deny any service to resident of India, it is not a mandatory but a voluntary document. Wherein another interim issued on August 11th 2015 by Supreme Court ruled that Aadhaar or UIDAI should be used only for PDS, LPG's and kerosene distribution but still made it clear that for getting any of these services Aadhar card will not be mandatory.

Function of the UIDAI

As notified, UIDAI is supposed to take care of all plans and policies to implement its Unique Identification (UID) schemes. Some of these are mentioned below:

  • Owning and operating the database of UID
  • To serve as a platform for residents for online pre-registration of Aadhaar.
  • To allow users to check their Aadhaar card status using UIDAI’s platform.
  • Taking the responsibility of maintaining and updating it on constant basis depending on the Aadhaar applications received online or offline.
  • Implementation of the UID schemes
  • Generating and assigning UID to the people
  • Defining the mechanism and interlinking it with the databases of partners.
  • Managing and operating all the UID’s life cycle stages
  • Framing the policies and operation of the UID mechanism
  • Updating and describing the usage and application of UID for the various other services.

The data centre of the UID is situated at the Model Township in Manesar, Haryana.

Mission of the UIDAI

The UIDAI was established with a Mission to:

  • To deliver Aadhaar to every Indian resident, and to have a stringent quality matrices and turnaround time.
  • To collaborate with all partners and give a convincing infrastructure to residents to authenticate and update their digital identity.
  • To serve residents equitably, efficiently and effectively by collaborating with the service provider in leveraging the Aadhaar.
  • To provide a platform to encourage private agencies and public ones to develop applications linked with Aadhaar.
  • To ensure resilience, scalability and availability of technological infrastructure.
  • To build a long-term organization, this would sustain and carry forward values and vision of UIDAI.
  • To make it as attractive as possible so that the best global expertise of different fields collaborate to give the most valuable insight to UIDAI organization.

Core Values of UIDAI

The core values of UIDAI are mentioned below:

  • Valuing the integrity.
  • Committing to build the nation inclusively.
  • To value and establish a collaborative approach.
  • To strive for and serve residents and service providers efficiently.
  • To make a constant effort for learning and to focus on improving the quality.
  • To consistently drive towards innovation and provide a similar platform to partners.
  • To make the organisation transparent and open.

Aadhaar number was made to a give unique identity to residents that would be sound enough to prevent fake and duplicate identities which can be authenticated and verified anywhere and anytime online. On the 16th of December 2010, the Government of India notified a letter stating the name, address and the Aadhaar number issued by the UIDAI as a valid document. However, it cannot replace any form of the present identity documents, nor does it gives the cognizance to citizenship in anyway.

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The Aadhaar number will never start with zero or one and it has many such intelligence or profiling numbers so that nobody can practise identity theft or fraud with it. This unique identity somehow entitles them to various government schemes such as benefits of e-sign, digital lockers, NSAP, pension schemes, the Universal Account Number under the EPFO and some other services like opening a bank account or getting a SIM for mobile connection. As per the UIDAI website, the Aadhaar cardholder or the service provider through the Aadhaar verification service offered on the website can check the credentials linked with the Aadhaar number. The service offered is very user friendly. In addition, residents who had registered for the national population do not require registering for Aadhaar again.

As per the current data, 1.12 Billion people possess Aadhaar number and 1.07 billion had authenticated. By around February 2015, the government had already spent 5630 Crores and issued 786.5 million of Aadhaar numbers.

Enrolling and Updating Ecosystems

UIDAI has a registrar and there are agencies in the registrar’s control that are entitled for enrolment. The registrar has the authority to recognize individuals for enrolling. The enrolment agency authorised by the registrar collects the biometric and demographic data of individuals throughout the enrolment process with the help of assigned supervisors and operators.

According to the guidance of the registrar and enrolment agencies, the enrolment centre is set up so that the individual can enrol with UIDAI to get Aadhaar. All the equipment such as iris scanner, fingerprint scanner and camera which are used by the enrolment agencies are certified by UIDAI and STQC and all of them work in coordination to connect to the Application Programming Interphase. All of the enrollers, registrar and service providers coordinate amongst themselves to create a healthy environment for them to work.

Authenticating the Ecosystems

A scalable ecosystem has been set up by UIDAI for the authentication of the resident instantly. The ecosystem authentication of the Aadhaar is capable of doing millions of verifications daily and even further enhancing to cope up with the demand. The UIDAI has appointed various numbers of Authentication User Agencies (AUAs) and Authenticating Service Agencies (ASAs) for numerous non-government and government organizations. Since most of the authentication is done online, UIDAI has established two data centres where authentication and other services are done online such as e-KYC can be deployed to ensure optimum availability. Banks and other payment network operations have made the authentication of Aadhaar at micro-ATMs simpler with a vent to provide branchless banking anywhere within the country in real time and with interoperability.

UIDAI Financial Division

The financial division of the UIDAI is responsible for the formulation, outcome, and performance of Budget, Cash Management and Expenditure and screening the proposal that involves financial implication. The various advising done by the financial division of UIDAI are-

  • Advising on financial power delegation.
  • Advising the EFC/SFC and cabinet on estimated cost and revising the cost proposal.
  • Association and formulating activities for appreciation of financial implications.
  • Evaluation and appraisal of proposal of rules and regulations with due diligence and operational requirements’ by the perspective
  • By internally controlling the Procurement Manual for ‘Due Diligence’ and also the compliance of regulations, rules and guidelines set forth by the Ministry of finance in accordance with various procurement and contracts.
  • Helping in preparations of budget and to estimate revising them and the various grants that are supplementary.
  • Even monitoring the work of Pay and Accounts Office.
  • Allocating the budget between the Headquarters’ functional division and Regional offices.
  • Internal Audit and compliance follow-up.
  • Doing the finalization and issuing Repost of Internal Audit to the concerned Regional office/Tech centre and Divisions.

In the recent budget, Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitley had announced to introduce a bill to support Aadhaar legislatively within a week. Hence, on March 3rd 2016 Mr Jaitley introduced Aadhaar Bill 2016 as a money bill in the parliament.  Thus, Aadhaar is a unique number, which identifies any chance of fraud such as identity theft and prevents it. Thus, the identification done through Aadhaar will help the government to reach and give benefits to eligible residents.

The UIDAI has the obligation to protect the confidentiality and security of the residents’ information thus collected. The software that collects all such information has to be encrypted to prevent any sort of leakage in transit. It also has an elaborate and comprehensive security policy to keep the data safe and integral. Even storage protocols and security is in place and all the guidelines in this regard are mentioned on the website.

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Penalties for disclosure of information and security violation are severe. The database of children below 5 years is not maintained on biometric and demographic basis, in fact even the photograph is not taken but they are linked to their parents UID. However, after reaching the age of five the photograph, fingerprints and iris scan shall be updated on the Aadhaar and again at the age of 15, the data needs to be updated. The complete procedure is mentioned on the Aadhaar letter sent with the Aadhaar card to the entire population.

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