Unique identification project was initially conceived by the Planning Commission as an initiative that would provide identification for each resident across the country and would be used primarily as the basis for efficient delivery of welfare services. It would also act as a tool for effective monitoring of various programs and schemes of the Government.
a) The concept of a unique identification was first discussed and worked upon since 2006 when administrative approval for the project –"Unique ID for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families" was given on 03 March 2006 by the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. This project was to be implemented by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) over a period of 12 months. Subsequently, a Processes Committee to suggest processes for updation, modification, addition and deletion of data fields from the core database to be created under the Unique ID for below BPL project was set up on 03 July 2006. This was set up under the chairmanship of Dr. Arvind Virmani, Principal Adviser, Planning Commission.
b) A "Strategic Vision on the UIDAI Project" was prepared and submitted to this Committee by M/S Wipro Ltd (Consultant for the design phase and program management phase of the Pilot UIDAI project). It envisaged the close linkage that the UIDAI would have to the electoral database. The Committee also appreciated the need of a UIDAI Authority to be created by an executive order under the aegis of the Planning Commission to ensure a pan-departmental and neutral identity for the authority and at the same time enable a focused approach to attaining the goals set for the XI Plan. The Seventh Meeting of the Process Committee on 30 August 2007 decided to furnish to the Planning commission a detailed proposal based on the resource model for seeking its "in principle" approval.
c) At the same time, the Registrar General of India was engaged in the creation of the National Population Register and issuance of Multi-purpose National Identity Cards to citizens of India.
d) Therefore, it was decided, with the approval of the Prime Minister, to constitute an empowered group of Ministers (EGoM) to collate the two schemes – the National Population Register under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Unique Identification Number project of the Department of Information Technology. The EGoM was also empowered to look into the methodology and specific milestones for early and effective completion of the Project and take a final view on these. The EGoM was constituted on 04 December 2006.
- The first meeting of the EGoM was held on 27 November 2007. It recognised the need for creating an identity related resident database, regardless of whether the database is created based on a de-novo collection of individual data or is based on already existing data such as the voter list, there is a crucial and imperative need to identify and establish an institutional mechanism that will "own" the database and will be responsible for its maintenance and updating on an ongoing basis post its creation.
- The second meeting of the EGoM was held on 28 January 2008. It decided on the strategy for the collation of NPR and UIDAI. Inter-alia, the proposal to establish UIDAI Authority under the Planning Commission was approved.
- The third meeting of the EGoM was held on 07 August 2008. The Planning Commission had placed before the EGoM a detailed proposal for setting up UIDAI. The meeting decided that certain issues raised by the members with relation to the UIDAI (Annexure to the EGoM meeting proceedings) would need to be examined by an official level committee. It referred the matter to a Committee of Secretaries to examine and give its recommendations to the EGoM to facilitate a final decision.
- Subsequent to the Committee of Secretaries recommendations, the fourth meeting of the EGoM was held on 04 November 2008. The recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries were presented to the EGoM and the following decisions were taken.
- Initially the UIDAI may be notified as an executive authority and investing it with statutory authority could be taken up for consideration later at an appropriate time.
- UIDAI may limit its activities to creation of the initial database from the electoral roll/EPIC data. UIDAI may however additionally issue instructions to agencies that undertake creation of databases to ensure standardization of data elements.
- UIDAI will take its own decision as to how to build the database.
- UIDAI would be anchored in the Planning Commission for five years after which a view would be taken as to where the UIDAI would be located within Government.
- Constitution of the UIDAI with a core team of 10 personnel at the central level and directed the Planning Commission to separately place a detailed proposal with the complete structure, rest of staff and organizational structure of UIDAI before the Cabinet Secretary for his consideration prior to seeking approval under normal procedure through the DoE/CCEA.
- Approval to the constitution of the State UIDAI Authorities simultaneously with the Central UIDAI with a core team of 3 personnel.
- December 2009 was given as the target date for UIDAI to be made available for usage by an initial set of authorized users.
- Prior to seeking approval for the complete organizational structure and full component of staff through DoE and CCEA as per existing procedure, the Cabinet Secretary should convene a meeting to finalize the detailed organizational structure, staff and other requirements.
- Subsequently, on 22 January 2009 the Cabinet Secretary in pursuance of the decisions of the Empowered Group of Ministers considered the proposal submitted by the Department of Information Technology regarding the governance structure and recommended that.
- In pursuance of the Empowered group of Ministers' fourth meeting dated 04 November 2008, the Unique Identification Authority of India was constituted and notified by the Planning Commission on 28 January 2009 as an attached office under the aegis of Planning Commission with an initial core team of 115 officials. The role and responsibilities of the UIDAI was laid down in this notification. The UIDAI was given the responsibility to lay down plan and policies to implement UIDAI scheme and shall own and operate the UIDAI database and be responsible for its updation and maintenance on an ongoing basis.
- Notification for constitution of the UIDAI
Prime Minister's Council on UIDAI Authority - Subsequently, on 02 July 2009, the Government appointed Shri. Nandan M. Nilekani as the first Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister for an initial tenure of five years. Mr. Nilekani has joined the UIDAI as its Chairman on 23 July 2009. The Prime Minister's Council of UIDAI Authority of India was set up on 30 July 2009. The Council is to advise the UIDAI on Programme, methodology and implementation to ensure co-ordination between Ministries/Departments, stakeholders and partners. The Council would meet once every quarter. The First Meeting of the Prime Minister's Council of UIDAI Authority took place on 12 August 2009.
The salient decisions in the PMs council were as follows :
- Need for legislative framework
- Broad Endorsement of the Strategy
- Budgetary Support to partners
- Setting Biometric and Demographic Standards
- UIDAI Structure Contours Approved
- Flexibility in Personnel and other issues
- Choose, Deploy and Repatriate Officers
- Government Accommodation Eligibility
- Broad-banding of posts
- Hiring of professionals from Market
- Setting up of Global Advisory Councils of PIOs
- Interns and Sabbatical Global Procurement
The Government of India issued orders constituting the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI Authority on 22 October 2009. It is headed by the Honourable Prime Minister and consists of the Minister of Finance, Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of External Affairs, Minister of Law and Justice, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Minister of Labour and Employment, Minister of Human Resource Development, Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Tourism. The Deputy Chairman Planning Commission and Chairman UIDAI are special invitees. The functions of the Committee, which is headed by the Honourable PM would be as under :
All issues relating to the Unique identification Authority of India including its organisation, plans, policies, programmes, schemes, funding and methodology to be adopted for achieving the objectives of that Authority.