It costs the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Rs.100 to generate each ‘aadhaar’ number, which will help address the challenges of inclusion, the authority’s chief Nandan Nilekani, said here Thursday.It costs the authority Rs.50 to enrol each individual for the Unique ID (UID) and another Rs.50 on back-end costs, he said.
In his address at the annual Rajinder Mathur Memorial Lecture here, Nilekani said that the aadhaar number will help in making public expenditure more equitable and in building new services for the people.
Nilekani, who took questions after speaking of benefits of the UID, said the country needed well-defined privacy laws to prevent any malicious use of data.
Answering queries about the demand by social activists like Aruna Roy and Jean Dreze against linking the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) to the UID, he said that the number should not be used in a way that it denies benefits to anyone.
‘Aadhar should not be a basis of discrimination,’ he said.
The social activists had, in a statement, said plans to link MGNREGA to Aadhaar should be revoked as it ‘threatens to cause havoc’ in the fragile structure of the scheme that provides for 100 days of jobs a year to rural households.
Nilekani said the UID can be sufficient identity to open a bank account or get a mobile phone SIM card. Pointing out that penetration of banks was quite low in rural areas, he said the UID can facilitate extending banking to every village.
The UID number will also be beneficial for people who migrate from one part of the country to the other, he added.
Answering queries about possibility of data being misused, he said that the only service provided by the UIDAI was authentication.
‘UID is one part of privacy issue. We need a larger privacy and data protection law,’ he said.
Nilekani said he wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue in May and the government has come out with an approach paper to elicit the people’s viewse.
He said the authority’s target was to provide the UID to 600 million Indian residents in the next four years.
The lecture was organized by the Editors Guild of India.