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Aadhaar Conference

Aadhaar Under the Hood

The Two-day conference, 'Next Generation Service Delivery-Enabled by Aadhaar', organized by NASSCOM in partnership with UIDAI, took off on 22nd June 2011 with a deep-dive technology session.

The morning session, 'Aadhaar Under the Hood' saw Srikanth Nadhamuni, Head of Technology, UIDAI leading the session with Sanjay Jain, Chief Product Manager, UIDAI opening locks on APIs & Standards. Dr. Vivek Raghavan, Volunteer, UIDAI gave insights into Biometrics 101 for Developers. Lending a more layman oriented knowledge distribution, Dr. Pramod Varma, Chief Architect, UIDAI and Jagadish Babu, Volunteer, UIDAI had a ground level dialogue on Authentication of APIs along with a friendly demonstration.

Integrate with and Innovate for Aadhaar

The afternoon session involved the industry and its perspective of building on the applications of Aadhaar. Unlike the morning the session which had the UIDAI technical team approaching together, the afternoon session was more independent in nature, rightly so, because it had industry specific speakers.

Revolving on the theme 'Integrate with and Innovate for Aadhaar', the session began with a presentation on Multiplying Opportunities for Applications by Narendra Bhandari, Director, Intel Software and Services Group. The second speaker was Shashank Jain, Head R&D Unit, Nokia who spoke on Mobile Platform as an Enabler for Aadhaar. Instances of Possible Disruption by Aadhaar, was the topic on which Amitabh Nag, Head India – Central Government, Tata Consultancy Services, gave an insight into. Pari Natrajan, CEO, Zinnov spoke on 'Aadhaar as a Service (Technology Enablement)'.

Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, UIDAI addressed the audience at the end of the session. "aadhaar will open up a lot of opportunities and we are looking at a post-Aadhaar world where every Indian has an Aadhaar number, a mobile number and an account number, since applications will be developed around these elements," he said.

Next Generation Citizen Service Delivery

The second session of Day 2 focussed on Next Generation Citizen Service Delivery and was moderated by Tanmoy Chakravarty from Tata Consultancy Services. Shankar Aggarwal, Add’l Secretary, DIT, Government of India presented the vision of National e-Governance Plan while also stressing on electronic service delivery and the role of Aadhaar.

Speaking about the development potential of the country and the challenges faced by it, he said, "India is diverse and has today become the third fastest growing country in the world. With a growth rate of 8-8.5 percent, it surely is envy to the world, but if looked more closely we will see that the growth is neither sufficient nor sustainable. But with the help of ICT, we can not only achieve a growth rate of 11 percent but also achieve all inclusive sustainable growth."

He also shared the growth of IT and ITeS industry in 2010-2011 in which he pointed that the Indian IT and ITeS industry churned revenues to the tune of US$88 billion and a contribution of 7 percent to the GDP. He also touched about Right based Policy frameworks being enacted by the Government of India.

Commenting on covering the entire population under Aadhaar, he said, "I feel that we have to expedite the allocation of UID numbers to the population and involve the National Population Registrar also in the process, which I think will enable coverage of targeted population within 2-3 years."

Ajoy Kumar Singh, Secretary Sports & Commissioner, MGNREGA, Government of Jharkhand spoke next on Aadhaar & MGNREGA in his state and touched upon financial inclusion, cash transfer, banking outlets, and integration of Aadhaar with MGNREGA.

Public Distribution System was the focus of Ajit Kesari’s presentation. Representing the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection, Government of Madhya Pradesh, he said, "Madhya Pradesh is reforming PDS through various methodologies and Aadhaar platform is one among them. The objective of ePDS is to eliminate duplication, bogus and inaccurate ration cards using Aadhaar based biometric de-duplication, create a database with Aadhaar for use of all departments in the state and empower consumers to take control of their entitlements and its sale using personalized secured food coupons. MPePDS is monitored by a project management software and application software."

Giving an industry perspective Sandeep Raina, Director-Engineering, CISCO shed light on the unique aspects of a network and the importance of the right architectural approach for multiple networks. He opined that Aadhaar would play the role of a converged IP network integrating all services providing a human network for the GSovernment.

Satwant Singh, Executive Director, Indian Oil Corporation spoke about the role of Aadhaar in LPG Distribution. Giving an overview of the LPG distribution in the country and pointing out the challenges faced in the process, he shared the role of Aadhaar in ensuing subsidized LPG to genuine customers. "We are integrating our delivery software, IndSoft with Aadhaar for authentication and enrolment," he said.

Making Financial Inclusion a Reality

The third session of the day was on 'Making Financial Inclusion a Reality'. Moderated by Satya Sankar Mishra, Head of Business Solutions, Tata Consultancy Services, the session involved presentations from bankers, both national and private, focusing on ways of financial inclusion utilizing the Aadhaar platform.

L P Rai, DG, Rural Business, SBI gave a financial inclusion landscape of the country and few reasons for exclusion. According to him, three mission critical ingredients have to be looked at for making the inclusion a reality; technology, economic viability and business correspondent network. He also outlined benefits of Aadhaar enabled financial inclusion.

S K Gupta, Chief Project Officer, NPCI gave a national perspective of financial inclusion based on Aadhaar and also touched upon the use of Rupay cards, while T V Seshadri, General Manager, MasterCard Worldwide gave a presentation on the advantages of Aadhaar as an enabler in financial inclusion at marginal costs. Avijit Saha, GM, Rural & Inclusive Business, ICICI Bank presented an inclusive banking solution and how it is showing the way forward towards growth.

The final presentation was by Satya Sankar Mishra, who gave a presentation on TCS in financial inclusion.

Role of Aadhaar in Education and Health Sectors

Major speakers in the NASSCOM conference on the role of UID in the areas of Education and Health impressed upon the benefits of Aadhaar and hoped UID to be a major boost to education and Health.

Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, Vice Chancellor, IGNOU stressed that just like financial inclusion and several other inclusions, inclusion of growth can only happen with inclusion of education.He also stressed the necessity of giving access and providing opportunities to that size of population which has been deprived of all facilities for education.

Krishna Giri, Managing Director of Accenture for Health and Public Service in Asia Pacific ridiculed the claim in some quarters of India becoming a super power. "Our fundamentals have to be fixed much before we start talking about becoming a super power and Aadhaar would be the right tool in fixing up the fundamentals," he said.

He further stated that as per a UN survey, 50 percent of teachers don’t exist in the schools but salary is promptly collected. "Aadhaar would become a backbone for all our ills including those of education and health," Giri said.

Rajendra S Pawar, Chairman & Co-Founder, NIIT & Chairman, NASSCOM presided over the session and felt no one system can be a remedy for all problems, but an attempt can definitely be made to address the problems.

Role of Aadhaar in Telecom Sector

The Telecom track was moderated by Dr. Jai Menon, Director Global Innovation & IT, Bharti Airtel.

The first speaker, A.K.Mittal, DDG, Department of Telecommunication gave a government perspective on the use of UID in telecom sector. He focussed on UID’s role in negating fake POA and POI submitted for phone or mobile connections.

Dr Menon then spoke on the opportunities that the Telecom industry can leverage through the Aadhaar platform, which according to him is an important aspect of identity required for mobility. He touched upon the price, reach and ease of use & relevance of mobile devices to convey the innovation that can be built upon using the UID platform.

The next was an extremely enthusiastic presentation by Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India). He gave the mobile operators perspective on the significance of UID and the benefits of Aadhaar based verification for operators.

The last speaker, Sriram Ratnam from Ernst &Young gave an independent perspective on Aadhaar and telecom touching on accessibility offered by mobiles helping higher banking penetration with Aadhaar as an enabler, He also noted that Aadhaar has the potential to create a billion dollar opportunity for telecom operators.

Developer and Innovation Ecosystem of Aadhaar

Prof. Arun Sundarajan, Associate Professor and NEC Faculty Fellow Leonard N.Stern School of Business, New York University called up on all players involved in UID project to strengthen the ecosystem to make Aadhaar a big success story during the fifth and final session of the two-day conference which was discussing the topic - Developer and Innovation Ecosystem of Aadhaar. Sharad Sharma, Chair Product Forum NASSCOM moderated the session.

"A sound social technical system seeding the ecosystem and sustaining the same are the vital requirements for the successful application of the UID feature," he said.

Reflecting on pre-electronification days of the Indian Railways, Uttam Nayak, Group Country Manager - India & South Asia, Visa then highlighted the benefits of online reservation and advantages the citizens and railways are now able to enjoy.

Dr. P.R.Subramanya, Vice President, Technology (GeoAmida), Geodesic Limited argued on having certain facilitation to convert the Aadhaar numbers for enabling big business. He also stressed for an ecosystem to be developed in coherence.

Rajendra S Pawar, Chairman & Co-Founder, NIIT & Chairman, NASSCOM gave his concluding remarks and Rama Vedashree, Vice-President, NASSCOM proposed a vote of thanks.

Nandan Nilekani

Nandan Nilekani
Designation: CHAIRMAN
Organization: UDAI
  • Aadhaar is technologically intensive, but more than that it is the awareness level which will ensure that the project succeeds and meets its goals. How are you ensuring that the awareness is being built in a proper channel?
  • Obviously, awareness of Aadhaar and its benefit is very important. At this point, we are in the midst of enrolment and have close to 1 crore people enrolled. We have launched communication programmes across states involving everybody from the registrars to the State Governments. I think we have been getting very good response to the programmes. We are easily enrolling at a rate of 2-3 lakhs per day.

    The next step is to look at applications using Aadhaar and that is the purpose of this event; awareness building on the application side of Aadhaar.
  • How have the states responded to the project?
  • States have been very proactive. We are already enrolling in 11 states. Many states have launched in all districts tying up with multi enrolment partners. In the next few months, I am sure many states would come online.
  • What is your take on the delay in achieving set targets?
  • I do not agree that there is any delay. We had said in the beginning, we would be on in 18 months, but we launched in 14 months! Secondly, we said that we will start enrolling atleast 1 million per day by October or November, and I am sure we are on the way to achieve the same. Thirdly, we will be enrolling 600 million people by 2014 and we hope that it will be achieved.
  • On hindsight, do you have any regrets regarding the project?
  • We have an excellent team, an excellent ecosystem and great support from the community. So there are no regrets.
  • How supportive has been the Government been in terms of budgetary allocation for the project?
  • We have got terrific support from the cabinet, the finance minister, the prime minister and every body concerned. We have excellent support in terms of finances and we are sure we will have no problem in securing the required finances for the future also.

Som Mittal

Som Mittal
Designation: PRESIDENT
Organization: NASSCOM
  • You have been able to create a platform for the developers, industry, UIDAI and the entire community with this two-day conference. What are your views on the significance of UID and the role of such platforms?
  • UID is a unique project, the largest international project in IT in the world. The world is watching ardently at the direction that the project is taking. It is innovative and the purpose is not just to give a card but to ensure that the benefits reach the common man. This is one project which will enable IT to touch all Indians.

    From an industry perspective, it is an important project because something like this has not been attempted before. It has one of the largest database and authentication engine, which changes the way we work and most importantly, it creates a path for many applications. It enables many new ways for people to leverage. A large number of small and medium companies can utilize this platform. So in many ways, Aadhaar can be a launch platform for many companies.

    This conference has got all stakeholders involved here and it just communicates that Aadhaar is not a project but a reality.
  • What are your views on the delays which the project has been facing?
  • A project of this nature, I think, will face few delays, but catching up will not be difficult. In many ways, it is on track; we have devices which are compliant, we have registrations happening, processes getting streamlined and mainly, there is huge amount of commitment by users.
  • Do you think proper awareness measure is being taken regarding UID?
  • Awareness should be created at a proper time. There is no point in creating awareness until we have something to show the user. The ecosystem is in place and now we have look at getting the registrations moving.
  • The target is to achieve half of the population under the UID project. With the general elections stated to be held around that time, do you think it could be cause for hindrance in the flow of the project?
  • I think the project has crossed all political boundaries. All states have embraced the project and there is an overall national support. This project just cannot be opposed as it touches every life. The democratic system of the country has proved that the economic agenda is not compromised.

K Ganga

K Ganga
Designation: DDG (Finance)
Organization: UIDAI
  • What are your comments of awareness being built about Aadhaar’s authentication services?
  • As far as awareness is concerned, we have an IEC group within UIDAI, which is involved and concerned with information, education and communication. This group has representation in the head quarters and regional offices as well. They take care of effective communication of all information. They also take the help of various governments and partners, using their channels of IEC and put up a combined awareness programme.

    At the moment, the concentration has been on enrolment because it was our primary activity. Now we are going to commence the authentication services and the IEC group will start focusing on it. Security of authentication is crucial and for this purpose the tool kit that we will give the IEC members will indicate the features that are in the system, so as to ensure that there is no compromise on security aspects. This will be emphasized in the IEC material that will be used by them. We are looking at all kinds of IEC– leaflets, audio-visual, conference, door-to-door – so all the typical activities that are used to promote social welfare schemes will be used. And it will not be IEC for residents, but also for the stakeholders.
  • UID is getting into the wave two of the whole project from the wave one, which was enrolment and infrastructure creation. Could you elucidate on what the wave two holds for UID?
  • The wave two will be those welfare programmes or government programmes where the touch-point with the beneficiaries is high and the kind of expenditure incurred by the government is huge. So we expect those programmes to get the first attention along with banking and financial inclusion which are the most difficult. Once these are attended to, we move to wave three which mainly is about the imagination and innovation of all the partners. They could add as many applications, build touch-points with any kind of service and use Aadhaar for it.

Srikanth Nadhamuni

Srikanth Nadhamuni
Designation: HEAD OF TECHNOLOGY
Organization: UDAI
  • Can you brief us on the structure of UIDAI and what technology means to UIDAI?
  • The idea of UID technology is to help deliver services to the residents of India through a identity platform which is basically to ensure that people can get enrolled using their biometric and demographic data which can later be used to authenticate themselves in order to get government services delivered to them. So that is the technology we are building.
  • We know of lapses in social security numbers in the United States and elsewhere. For UID, what is the learning in the process?
  • We actually studied a number of countries which have already done such identity cards or are building right now. None of them have done online identities. This is really very new and an advanced system. We have heard of many drawbacks of ID cards in some countries like the social security number of the US. It expects a lot of information about the resident in the number itself. So we learnt that a lot of privacy is lost. We have removed some of the problems which existed in the numbering system and implement them in random.
  • From a common man’s perspective, what’s the way out if the ID card is lost?
  • There will be support system in case they lose their Aadhaar cards and as long as they are able to provide their Aadhaar number and be able to authenticate themselves, there will be support for them.
  • Is there any inherent device in the application to avoid any duplication and replication?
  • One of the USP of the UID Project is to ensure minimal duplicity. We ensure so by using biometrics and since our biometric points are finger prints which are unique by itself, we will be able to ensure that each individual has one identity characteristic.

    Apart from the best of intentions to provide the government benefits to the citizens through various services in the form of UID, there is a section in the civil society which is protesting the idea of UID.
  • What is your reaction for the concerns expressed by them?
  • I think some of them are concerned about the data privacy so that information about the residents does not get used by companies or private companies to their advantage. I think that is a valid concern to be taken care of. In fact we have taken a lot of precaution to ensure that the data privacy of the citizen is maintained.
  • Do you foresee misuse of Aadhaar cards in the future?
  • No system is hundred percent fool proof. So it is hard to make a blanket statement that they are hundred percent secure. But with the kinds of technologies that are available today, you have a high degree of authentication. It will certainly help in improving the situation of misuse.
  • What are the probable number of services that can be enabled by using the UID card?
  • Application developers can build a lot of them depending upon the requirements of the government and the needs of the people. The obvious things people are thinking now are the PDS, NREGA, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan and so on. But there are several financial applications like banking wherein people can withdraw money from their village, transact in a kirana shop with a low cost micro device or send money to spouse at a far off place… The number of applications that can be built is left to our imagination

Dr. Pramod Verma

Dr. Pramod Verma
Designation: CHIEF ARCHITECT
Organization: UIDAI
  • By now, people have come to know about the Unique Identity Card, but can you take us a couple of years back and rebuild the story as it went on to grow big?
  • The system really developed and started only during the end of April or early May and it was simply challenging because when we started in May, the launch time frame was in April. And as you know no software gets developed in two months. So as an organization it was very important that we internally prioritize as to what needs to be launched and what can wait subsequently. So we created the initial pilot plan that was called as ‘Release One’ and then successfully released on August 15th starting with enrolling operators, support staff and so on.

    We also planned for the official launch by the Prime Minister in September. We are in the government system and the real big challenge was to create a complex system very rapidly. We started rolling out a new software aggressively every month in a rapid manner which allowed us to clearly move ahead without stopping the programme.

    The next version of the software with a big upgrade came in about January 2011 which allowed us enrollment from 10,000 people a day to one lakh people a day. So our current systems are capable of having enrollment of 1-2 lakh every day. Now we are coming out with a big release in the next few weeks which will take us to enrollment of half a million every day. Eventually going to one million is our stated goal by October.
  • How big is the team at UID?
  • The core technology team itself is not very large; we have about a handful of people, literally less than ten people in the organization with expertise that are providing the architectural direction, training and monitoring etc. But the actual developer or software development is done by the Mindtree as an organization. We have about four core bodies: Enrollment, Authentication, Business intelligence and portal aspect of it as well as fraud detection. So these are the four big modules if you want to classify it that way.

Ashok Dalwai

Ashok Dalwai
Designation: DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL
Organization: UDAI
  • Could you elaborate on the role of Bangalore regional office of UIDAI?
  • Bangalore regional office covers Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherry and Lakshadweep. The progress of the Aadhaar enrollment in the last one year has been satisfactory. Now we are in a stage where we can actually begin to ramp up and roll out large number of packets to Aadhaar.

    Karnataka: Karnataka was one of the first states to have begun enrollment and they took up the pilot in Tumkur and Mysore districts and they have been able to cover around 85 percent of the total population. And meanwhile they have also been able to finalize their RFPs for the rest of the state and enrollment is beginning in other districts. This month they will be going live in Belgaum and Dharwad divisions followed by Bangalore and Mysore divisions, sometime in the month of July. I would say that by March 2012 they would be able to ramp up a large number of enrollment packets and be able to cover a substantial part of the state population. The target is that by next year Karnataka should be able to come to near saturation.

    Kerala: As far as Kerala is concerned there is a great refresh now to take up enrollment at a very fast speed. The enrollment agencies have been finalized in the Kerala and particularly in the last one month, there has been active interest. Their target is to cover the entire state by next year. We hope that by the next year and a half or so we will be able to cover the entire state of Kerala.

    Pondicherry: Enrolment is going very well in the UT and the entire state population being very small, they are targeting to cover it by December of 2011 itself. And the unique thing about Pondicherry is that they are integrating the Aadhaar number with the PDS. That way Pondicherry will be the one of first states where the application of Aadhaar to improve the service delivery in terms of public distribution system is happening straight away.

    Tamil Nadu: We are yet to start in Tamil Nadu in a big way. The central agencies like the Bankers have started involving themselves in Tamil Nadu but the state government has to begin. A decision is being taken as to whether they would like to go along with the RCI. Whatever the case is we are willing to support the state of Tamil Nadu to begin the enrollment in a short period of time.

    So by and large, the states that form the part of Bangalore region are doing well and 2011-12 will be an important year in terms of speed of enrollment.
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