“Two years ago, I along with the UPA chairperson Smt. Sonia Gandhiji, were present when the first Aadhaar number was given in a remote tribal village of Maharashtra in September 2009. We have come a long way since then and since then the Unique Identification Authority have enrolled more than 24 crore residents for the Aadhaar number. Today we will be giving the 21st crore Aadhaar number to a resident of Dudu here in Rajasthan. Today, we are also formally launching the Aadhaar based delivery of services across the country. I would like to compliment all those associated with the project and Shri Nandan Nilekani for achieving so much in so short a time. I also compliment all those officials who have just been given awards for exemplary work in the Aadhaar project.
The UPA Government has always worked for the welfare and progress of the common man. We have always tried to ensure that our poorer brothers and sisters and those from economically and socially weaker sections benefit from the growth of our economy. We started the Aadhaar project with the same goal in mind. This project will benefit crores of people who suffer from poverty, unemployment and disease. These people face a lot of difficulty in either taking advantage of Government programmes or doing their own business because they do not have a proof of their identity. They also suffer socially because of this. We intend to eliminate this handicap through the Aadhaar project. The mandate of Aadhaar is to give a Unique Identity Number to every resident of India. Aadhaar provides a resident with the right to an identity. The Aadhaar project is one of the most complex projects in the world which will improve access to many services. Governments across the world are keenly looking at India to learn and understand how Aadhaar can deliver benefits to its people.
Aadhaar number helps in opening a bank account, in getting a mobile connection, in travelling by train or air, and many other activities. Students will find it very convenient because today, they have to show their identity on may occasions.
Aadhaar will be very helpful in ensuring that many schemes being run by the government are implemented more effectively. Benefits such as scholarships, pensions and health benefits which are given by government can now be transferred directly to the beneficiaries. Very often, we receive complaints that items such as gas connections, diesel and fertilizers, which get a lot of subsidy from the government, do not reach the needy and the poor. With Aadhaar, we will be able to ensure transfer of benefits by cash to individuals. With the Aadhaar number, we can ensure that the money goes to the correct person and the role of middle-man is ended with direct transfer of benefits to the needy, complaints about delay and leakage will also come down.
The Aadhaar scheme will deliver benefits to crores of people. As an example, the Central government today provides about 1.50 crore scholarships to students. Two crore people are given Old Age Pension and about 3 crore families get the benefit of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana. Over 5 crore families benefit from the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA. It is our goal that all these people should take advantage of the Aadhaar number.
It is my belief that the Aadhaar project demonstrates the role that technology can play in building a modern India. Our government wants to make use of technology, particularly Information Technology, in bringing greater transparency and accountability into government programmes and reducing leakages. Aadhaar is an important step forward in this direction.
Today, from Tripura to Rajasthan and from Delhi to Kerala all over the country residents are being given Aadhaar numbers. I am told that by 2014, 60 crore people will have this number. When we began the programme two years ago, the focus was on enrolling people rapidly in Aadhaar. The next step is to leverage Aadhaar to transfer benefits directly to the common man. We have just seen the benefits of using Aadhaar in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Maharashtra. We will now extend this to the rest of the country in future.
I am happy to note that Rajasthan under the leadership of the Chief Minister has given primary importance to the Aadhaar project. I congratulate the Government and the people of Rajasthan for this. I am confident that in the coming years, this project will be implemented even more rapidly.
I will conclude by once again congratulating all those associated with the Aadhaar project. I am confident that you will continue to contribute to the growth of India with dedication and hard work.”