Considering all my options: Nilekani on joining politics

October 15 11:31 2013

Amid reports he may join politics, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Chairman Nandan Nilekani on Monday said he was considering all options after Aadhaar stint.

“I am considering all my options as I look at what I do post-Aadhaar,” Nilekani said here.

Nilekani, an IIT-ian who left Infosys to join the government as the head of the UIDAI, said, “Having a strong corporate background has been beneficial but there were few adjustments I had to make accordingly to work in the government sector.”
Nilekani, 58, is working on his next book that would be based on how to set a link between technology and the government. Media reports last month said Nilekani could join the Congress and contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Talking on future e-governance initiatives, Nilekani, due to deliver the Australia India Institute (AII) speech on India’s transformation: The role of information technology here on Tuesday, said those were not yet formed.

“I am here to give a public talk at the invitation of the Australia India Institute and to meet leaders from the government, academics and business. It is my first visit to Australia since I left the private sector and joined the government.”

‘One of two to have Aadhaar by mid-2014’
One of every two would have an Aadhaar number by the middle of 2014, Nilekani said.

“Aadhaar number is useful in removing the duplication of those in the list of beneficiaries.” He did not comment on the Supreme Court’s interim ruling that had announced Aadhar number as a non-compulsory ID.

Stating that apex court’s stand was a subjudice matter, Nilekani stressed that the Aadhaar number was beneficial for a variety of reasons including financial inclusion, direct benefit transfer, identity and subsidy reform. “It can be used as a financial address and linked to it one can have a bank account, send money to another Aadhaar number, get access to public services and also use it for an online authentication of ID for service delivery,” he said.

“It has very unique attributes which no other ID system has and I think it is the key to public sector reform and governance transformation,” Nilekani commented.

“We have already issued 450 million Aadhaar numbers. In September alone, we issued 25 million Aadhaar numbers and by middle of 2014 we should be able to issue 600 million,” he said.

“This means that one in two residents in India will have Aadhaar,” he said. He it is a cost effective scheme and less than Rs 3,000 crores have been spent on it till now.

“It is a cost effective scheme with long term gains.” “We have already done a lot of work in cash transfers. We have done more than 10 million cash transfers for various services like LPG subsidies as well 10 million online authentications. We have over 30 millions bank accounts that have been connected to Aadhaar numbers.”

He further cited the last year’s National Institute of Public Finance and Policy study paper which had estimated that Aadhaar could save around Rs 110,000 crores of the government expenditure by 2020 on various public service scheme.

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