The Unique ID card project, headed by Nandan Nilekani, is drawing interest from across the world because of the sheer scale of the project. Countries which already have similar projects, though on a much smaller scale, are looking to tap into the business opportunities emerging out of the Centre’s efforts to provide the unique ID cards to the 1.2 billion-odd people in the country.
The British, who have a similar ID card project in Manchester, hope to tap into the business opportunity emerging from the project for companies implementing the project in Manchester. While, in Manchester, the project is on a trial and voluntary for the moment, in India it will be universal.
The 5 billion pound project when it will be rolled out nationally there, has been facing severe opposition from all parties claiming that such a programme will invade privacy.
“We have the technology and expertise in the project,” said Richard Hyde, deputy high commissioner in Bangalore, told Business Standard.
The then home secretary, Jacqui Smith, had in September 2008 unveiled the card. She had then said, the project would deliver real benefits, including providing protection against criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists.
The Manchester launch will mark the beginning of the main phase of the ID scheme which ministers say will culminate in cards being available nationwide by 2012. The identity cards initially cost 30 pounds per card.
In India, the project is expected to be implemented over three years and has been estimated by industry experts to cost around Rs 10,000 crore.