Even as they are in favour of the UPA government’s unique identification project, the Left parties have found fault with the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, which envisages the present Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as a statutory body. The comrades’ particular objection: the project depends too heavily on software from foreign companies.
The Kerala unit of the CPI(M) initially rang the alarm bell and now the entire Left, with 24 Lok Sabha and 22 Rajya Sabha members, will move amendments to register their protests. “Why is the UID Authority using software made by foreign companies when our government in Kerala is promoting free software? The Kerala government has special schemes to promote use of free software. The UID project should use these instead of harnessing profit for foreign companies,” the CPI(M)’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, P Karunakaran, told Business Standard.
The Bill is likely to be introduced in Parliament’s ongoing session. The project would involve an expenditure of Rs 3,023 crore.
Kerala chief minister V S Achuthanandan had earlier written letters to the Prime Minister and UID chief Nandan Nilekani to give more contracts to local software manufacturers. So far, L1 Identity solutions and Accenture are the only two foreign companies to have led consortiums which got UID contracts.
The other contracts won have gone to Indian companies — Mindtree, Intelinet, TCS, Mahindra Satyam.
The Bill proposes a statutory National Identification Authority of India and lays down its powers and functions, the framework for issuing unique identification (Aadhaar) numbers, major penalties and other related matters.
The Left opposition, however, is not a matter of concern for the ruling establishment insofar as numbers go; the UPA has enough votes to introduce and pass the Bill.