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3very Indian is unique (-ly numbered)

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Moneycontrol reports the public launch of the Indian UID scheme:

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi handed out the first set of Unique Identification Number to tribals in Tembhli village of Maharashtra’s Nandurbar district on Wednesday.

Ten tribals from Tembhli village got their Unique Identification Numbers (Aadhaar) from Singh and Sonia. They were randomly selected by the Nandan Nilekani-headed Unique Identification Authority of India.

Hitesh and Rajana Sonawane

(L to R) Hitesh and Rajana Sonawane. The third person does not exist.

IE doles out a wire service report:

782474317884. Ranjana Sadashiv Sonawane is unable to read the 12-digit number printed on a piece of paper given to her. But the 41-year-old resident of Tembhli village in Nandurbar district, who created history on Wednesday by becoming the first person to get an unique identity number under the UPA government’s Aadhar project, is not willing to let such minor issues mar the celebrations.

“We will get many benefits. This will provide aadhar (foundation) at every step,” gushed Sonawane, who got the slip with her unique ID from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “Like you, we want to live in pucca houses and eat good food. You and we have the same souls, so our poverty must be done away with,” said Sonawane who labours in nearby fields for a daily wage of Rs 50.

Exactly the same report is carried by an enormous number of new sources on the net. However, HT has a report with more truthiness:

India’s first Aadhaar-holder Ranjana Sonawane (40) is angry. Her family couldn’t go to work over the past month because the state government kept them busy preparing for Wednesday’s launch ceremony. The Tembhli village resident was handed over her Aadhaar — 78247431788 — at a ceremony attended by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “Sanmaanache kaay gheun basat, ithe khayaala kahi nahi. (Damn the honour, we don’t have anything to eat.),” she said after the ceremony.

Sweeping the mud floor of her 150 sq ft dilapidated grass-and-bamboo hut, Ranjana was visibly upset. “Now I have to cook something for my three children,” she said, walking to an earthen choolah (stove).

“I was so nervous that I couldn’t utter a word when I saw Gandhi,” she said. If she had gathered the courage, she said, she would have told Gandhi to give us “a decent life”. “Hunger keeps my children awake every other night,” she said. Across Tembhli, a village in backward Nandurbar district, people wondered how Aadhaar would change their lives. Most adults migrate to Saurashtra for seasonal jobs.

“Our husbands and sons earn some money by cutting sugarcane in Saurashtra. But this time, they couldn’t go because of this programme. Government officers asked them to stay back,” said Sayarbee Yakub (40).

Anil Thakre (12), a Class 6 student, said he looked forward to opening a bank account now that he has an Aadhaar.

IBN digs out a magic number of facts:

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.

Sify reports on the companies behind the UID:

A consortium led by tech companies Mahindra Satyam and Morpho played a key role in the successful testing and issuance of first UID numbers on Wednesday in Maharashtra. This consortium was among the three successful bidders to the prestigious Aadhaar project and inked the formal contract with UIDAI for a duration of two years.

While Mahindra-Satyam is a well known company in India, Morpho, a technology company in the Safran group, is a global supplier of identification, detection and e-document solutions.

Mahindra Satyam and Morpho will develop and maintain systems that will cross-check every new application by sifting through the biometrics database, preventing accidental or fraudulent duplication and ensuring that each identification number is unique. Morpho will provide the biometric technology while Mahindra Satyam will integrate and provide support across platforms and databases

A WSJ blog says: “Most of the tech gurus that designed the unique ID system were of Indian-origin, and volunteered to help the effort without pay. Here’s a look at some of the people on Mr. Nilekani’s Dream Team:”


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  1. […] and a half years after the first Unique IDentity number was handed out, the standoff between the planning commission’s Aadhar scheme and the home ministry’s […]

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