Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interview with Chairman UIDAI

Nandan was interviewed by Thapar as part of CNN-IBN's program "Devil's Advocate". Thapar surely asked all right questions except the UK card part. I have spoken to several people and everyone believes no such program can succeed unless people find a good reason to have them. In UK, no one knows why they should have a national ID. Same goes in US too (they eventually are not doing any similar projects except in the case of immigration or FBI).

In India, we keep aside 1000's of crores for pro-poor programs and we don't even know who is supposed to get. Only if we know who the people are, we can hope to reach them effectively. UID project attempts to identify these "face-less" people of India and provide these benefits to them directly through a micro-banking account. This can save huge sum of money for government and we can make sure it reaches the right people. We currently pay pensions for people who have died long back and we provide ration cards for "ghost" residents! I think UID will allow most of these systems (PDS, NREGA, LIC, PAN, etc.) be more efficient and hence be a self-sustaining system.

Here is the interview video link. have fun watching!


  1. I had seen the interview on CNN IBN. I somehow felt that Karan Thapar put Mr Nilekani on the backfoot. I personally think that Mr Nilekani's answers were not very convincing- What are your views?


  2. Hello Pramod,

    I wanted to bring it your attention that US does have a similar project through the Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-12) mandate, which requires all Federal agencies should issue Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards to its employees and contractors. These smart cards contain biometric information and are issued using FIPS-201 (NIST) standards. These cards contain a non-SSN unique ID and are used for various authentication and authorization purposes within the Federal space, increasing security and efficieny.
    I am leading a HSPD-12 implementation program which issued over 500K cards to executive branch's employees and contractors through a Managed Services offering. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about their approach.


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