Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique number which the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will issue for any resident in India. The UID will link a person’s passport number, driving licence, PAN card, bank accounts, address, voter ID, etc. All this information will be checked through a centralised database and linked to individual basic demographics and biometric information: photograph, fingerprints and iris scan. UID is easily verifiable online, in real time, even on a mobile network.

This unique identification project was initially conceived by the Planning Commission, a governmental organisation which promotes a rapid rise in the standard of living of Indians. The random number generated will not take into account caste, creed, religion or geography, and it is safe enough to eliminate fake identities in government and private databases.

The UID was launched in September 2010, and since then, more than 30m residents have enrolled. This biometric identity system will be used primarily for efficient delivery of welfare services, and it holds immense promise for the future, aiming to provide about 600m unique numbers by 2014.