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Inside Nandan Nilekani's UIDAI project: The movers and shakers
Thursday, 2nd December 2010
W hen Ranjana Sonawane, a 30-year-old housewife from Tembhli, a tribal village in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra was allotted the UID number 7824-7431-7884, the team at the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) would have been quite justified in feeling a little pleased with themselves. A small team � 160 people � had achieved the first milestone of a very ambitious project in a very short time.

The UIDAI is a government body mandated with the task of assigning every single one of India�s 1.2 billion citizens a Unique Identity (UID) number.

If you�re beginning to wonder what the big deal really is, consider this: By 2014, the government wants half of India�s population to be allotted UID numbers. To do that, the Authority will photograph a staggering 600 million Indians, scan 1.2 billion irises, collect six billion fingerprints and record 600 million addresses.

Let�s put this simply. No system in the world has handled anything on this scale. Period.

Think about it.

When the 600 millionth person is assigned a unique 12-digit UID, the system that generates it will have to compare it against 599,999,999 photographs, 1,199,999,998 irises and 12,999,999,990 fingerprints to ensure the number is indeed unique.

By the time the system reaches out to cover every Indian resident, the complexity, well, doubles. When in full flow, the system will be adding a million names to its database every single day until the task is complete.

Now, here�s the question: There�s nobody in the world who�s handled anything like this. Because it is government-owned, there are no private profits or stock options to be had for cracking the problem. In fact, if the current government loses at the next polls, there is a chance the next one may think the idea a waste of time and money and simply disband the project, and the team may lose five years of their lives.
Publication : Forbes India
TAGS : uidai  nandan nilekani  


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