Several top companies are hitched to the project in one way or the other

Aadhar, the Unique Identification Authority of India's (UIDAI) flagship project, is better known for its promise to prevent “leakages” from the Indian welfare system. However, irrespective of whether it will provide deliverance to the masses, it is clear that India's biggest e-governance initiative also offers a lot for Indian companies, particularly those working in the information technology (IT) space.

The Aadhar project, running into thousands of crores, offers many opportunities for IT companies, both in terms of hardware as well as software that will run the system on a perpetual basis. The equipment at each enrolment centres costs about Rs. 3 lakh, according to senior sources in the authority. Multiply this by about 350-400 and you get a sense of what it costs for a single district. In effect, enrolment in a single district will cost between Rs. 10 crore and Rs. 12 crore. This does not include the cost borne by the State machinery in actually getting people to enrol, the logistics or the administrative expenses.

Information available from the UIDAI shows that many of the top Indian IT firms have logged on to the Aadhar project in one way or the other. Satyam Computer Services Ltd., the once venerable IT company that now functions from the Mahindra stable, is supplying “biometric solutions” for the authority. The biometric readers are themselves supplied by L1 Identity Solutions, an American company, which has been supplying similar equipment to the U.S. Department for Homeland Security. Accenture, the global outsourcing solutions major, has also won a contract to implement biometric solutions for the Authority.

Incidentally, advertising company, Percept, is among the entities that have won contracts from the UIDAI for developing “creative content”. Bharti Airtel is to supply space for the authority's data centre in Bangalore. Companies such as Tata Consultancy Services have won multiple contracts. The firm has won a contract to provide “biometric solutions” as well as for “redesigning, development, maintenance and support of the UIDAI's Web portal”. In February 2010, Ernst and Young Consultancy Services won the contract to assist the UIDAI in setting up its Central ID Data Repository and as a provider of managed services.

The list mentioned is not exhaustive. It is only meant to illustrate that many of the leading IT companies are hitched to the massive project in some way or the other. The massive expenditure on the project provides some kind of insurance from the capricious ways of the global market. Aadhar, is in effect a stimulus by another name.

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