Aadhar card is increasingly becoming a very important source of identity for every Indian citizen. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was formed by the Government of India, in the year 2009, to take up “Project Aadhar”. This article provides insights into Aadhar Card History and gives a brief account of Shankar Maruwada, and his contribution to the project.
A Bit of Aadhar Card History:
Initially, the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) came up with the Unique Identification project. The project was thought of as an initiative to provide identification for each resident across the country.
The idea was that such an identification can become the basis for efficient delivery of the various welfare services, as well as, for effective monitoring of various programs and schemes of the Government.
This is how the Aadhar Card Initiative began:
- Aadhar Card History traces its origin in the year 2006 – When the concept of a Unique Identification was first discussed and worked upon.
- 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.
- 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.
- In pursuance of the EGoM’s fourth meeting, the UIDAI was constituted and notified by the Planning Commission on 28 January 2009 as an attached office under the aegis of Planning Commission. The UIDAI was given the responsibility to lay down plan and policies to implement Aadhar scheme.
- The Prime Minister’s Council of UIDAI Authority of India was set up on 30 July 2009.
Cabinet Committee for UIDAI Authority & Shankar Maruwada’s Role:
The Government of India issued orders and constituted the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI Authority on 22 October 2009. The function of the Committee would be address issues of the UIDAI including its organization, policies, schemes, funding and methodology to be adopted for achieving the objectives and so on.
- In July 2010, UIDAI published a list of 220 agencies which were qualified to take part in the enrollment process. It also published a list of 15 agencies that would train the personnel to be involved in the same process.
- On 7 February 2012, the UIDAI launched an online verification system for Aadhar numbers.
- On 26 November 2012, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched an Aadhaar-linked direct benefit transfer scheme. The project aimed to eliminate leakages in the system by directly transferring the money to the bank account of the recipient.
Shankar Maruwada – The Brand Builder:
Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder of Infosys, was appointed by the Government to head the UIDAI project. He roped in Shankar Maruwada (an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and IIM Ahmedabad), to head UIDAI’s demand generation, communication and awareness.
Shankar Maruwada is ex-Head of Demand Generation and Marketing, UIDAI. He can be rightly called as the ‘brand builder’ who brought Aadhaar to every part of the nation.
- He is someone with lots of entrepreneurial lessons to offer and has played a significant role in Aadhar Card History.
- In 1999, he co-founded Apnaguide.com, a customer reviews website (which shut down in less than two years after launch).
- In 2003, he launched Marketics (one of India’s largest provider of marketing analytics services). Later in 2007, it was bought over by WNS for an estimated $65 million.
- In December 2009, Shankar headed UIDAI’s demand generation and Marketing.
- His primary responsibility included creating awareness and communicating to the general public. Shankar and his team created a plan to develop a demand for Aadhar in the country, rather than force people to apply for it.
- Through meticulous plans and carefully formulated methodologies, Aadhar project became a success story, it is today; albeit criticism to some extent.
There is no denying that Aadhar is indeed a great idea to build upon and a radical proof of Identity and Residence which also is a very sophisticated document to simplify a lot of Government and individual’s paperwork.
Generating Demand for Aadhar:
The UIDAI team recognized that by creating a demand for Aadhar Card, people would be persuaded to obtain one, rather than by forcing them.
Linking LPG subsidy to bank accounts through Aadhar card made the general public to realize the importance of Aadhar, and hence created a situation for people to get Aadhar card.
In the same way, the Government has planned to link Aadhar number with various other welfare schemes, so that every Indian citizen can enjoy the benefits provided by the Government. Also, this eliminates most of the intermediate hassles and leakages in the functioning of Government bodies.
Already more than 70 crore Indians have Aadhaar card, a remarkable achievement within a span of three to four years.
The book by Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah (Rebooting India) essentially relives the Aadhar Card History – vicissitudes of creation of this Unique Identity Programme; having outlived the original doubts, sharp opposition from the Home Ministry, groups questioning the feasibility of the Programme, and the final victory being seal of approval by the Modi Government.