Mobile phone to verify your Indian identity: Nilekani

New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) Move over passport and PAN card! Identity authentication at banks, gas connection centres or while providing rural jobs will just be an SMS away, Unique Identification Authority chief Nandan Nilekani said Saturday.

“Our project will provide a unique identification (UID) number, not a card. The authentication will be made by using mobile phones,” Nilekani said.

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“Once the numbers are issued, we will go for online authentication. Lets say, you are asking for a job under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). The authorities will send your UID number to the designated points through mobile phone message. A message will be returned saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’,” Nilekani said.

“The fingerprint of the person can be sent to the central database and receive the authentication within minutes. This will verify whether you are the person you are claiming to be,” the former Infosys managing director said, delivering the Foundation Day lecture of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

“This will not require much personal details to be divulged. It will help provide portability to our farmers, labourers. When they move from state to state, this UID will help them get employment without hassles.”

He said banks, mobile service providers, LPG gas connection counters and many more partner organisations can use this UID to verify their customer. “With the growing mobile phone network, this will become an easy process for authorities to verify people.”

He said his team will roll out the first batch of UIDs in the next 12 to 18 months. “In five years from now, we will issue at least 600 million UIDs,” he added.

“It will cut down the fake or duplicate records. This will enhance the efficiency of flagship programmes like NREGS (National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme), NRHM (National Rural Health Mission) and other such projects,” Nilekani stressed.

He said later when banks or other such organisations seek to identify their possible customers, “they will be charged to recover the cost”.

He said the Unique Identification Project (UIP) is a “huge challenge”.

“Providing UID to 1.2 billion people is a huge challenge. There will be security issues too. I think this project is 10 times bigger than any such ongoing task in the world.”