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India May Soon Export Aadhaar To Select African And Asian Countries

India May Soon Export Aadhaar To Select African And Asian Countries

In January 2018, more than 20 countries had shown interest in Aadhaar-like systems

NSDL eGovernance along with infra major, Shapoorji Pallonji may form a joint venture for this

The turnkey project is part of NSDL eGovernance's larger offshore expansion plan

NSDL eGovernance Infrastructure Limited is reportedly looking to take Aadhaar and PAN (Permanent Account Number) services to select Asian and African countries. The move is said to be planned in a joint venture with infrastructure major Sterling and Wilson, the subsidiary of Mumbai-based conglomerate group Shapoorji Pallonji.

The Shapoorji Pallonji Group is a business conglomerate in India with interests in construction, real estate, textiles, engineered goods, home appliances, shipping, publications, power, and biotechnology. At present, Shapoorji is having ongoing infrastructure projects in roadways, power and renewable energy plants in 28 countries where they have set up offices.

As part of a turnkey project, NSDL eGovernance is looking to start their own unique identification and tax registry projects. While Sterling and Wilson will provide with the physical infrastructure, NSDL eGovernance offers the requisite financial and technical infrastructure.

“We started brainstorming about the idea a couple of years back on taking our vast expertise and technical skills to offshore markets. We will be looking to target African and Asian markets where we have found that there is interest for building unique identification, VAT, e-KYC and other e-governance based projects,” Gagan Rai, MD and CEO, NSDL eGovernance said in a media statement.

At present, NSDL eGovernance Infrastructure Limited (NSDL eGov.) and UTI Infrastructure Technologies Services Limited handles activities related to PAN, as designated by the Income Tax department. While the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is mandated to issue an easily verifiable 12 digit random number as Unique Identity – Aadhaar to all Residents of India.

Earlier in January 2018, more than 20 countries including Russia, Morocco, Algeria, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Tunisia among others indicated their initial interests in developing the Aadhaar kind of identification system in their own territories.

In the quest of developing a digitally enabled national population register, Morocco was reported to add the provisions of biometric identification and authentication on the recommendations made by India.  Also, reports surfaced that Sri Lanka has been planning to introduce the Aadhaar-like model in collaboration with India.

At the time, the Government of India formed a body comprising the Ministry of External Affairs, Department of Information Technology and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Also, recognising that potential, earlier the World Bank heaped praises on Aadhaar in its World Development Report, 2016 and expressed its confidence by saying that the model was worth replicating into other countries.

Despite several debates around violation of the right to privacy, a possibility of data breach and abuse of biometric information, Aadhaar has been the lifeline for the Indian government for pushing its financial inclusion and a less-cash digital economy agenda.

Update 1 June 19, 2019, Wednesday 11:11 AM

NSDL is replaced by NSDL eGovernance at several places as both are different entities.

[The development was reported in ET epaper dated June 19, 2019]

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