India to integrate census with biometric database

India’s government has unveiled plans to link its biometrics-backed unique ID number, Aadhaar, with the National Population Register. New Delhi says this will lead to a consolidated database that will help it uncover illegal immigrants, money-laundering, and terrorism. The Aadhar number is individual based, whereas the NPR scheme focuses on the household or the family as a composite unit.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, under which the NPR is being implemented, has been allocated 9.2 billion rupees (US$150 million) to complete the integration project by March 2016. “Whether one has Aadhaar or not, it is a must for every Indian to be registered under NPR, which is a proof of nationality,” Minister of Home Affairs, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary said.  “The national database we are creating by recording demographic as well as biometric details through NPR will aid the government in e-governance as well as weeding out ghost residents. The exercise will help us extend the benefits to the deserving people,” he said.

Officials say that the National Population Register database is being viewed as the final national database on citizens – as the Modi government feels that there could be “some anomalies” in the Aadhaar card issuance. The Indian government first unveiled the colossal, one-of-a-kind Aadhaar project in September 2009 as a way of raising working and living standards and offering all 1.2 billion of its residents a unique, undisputable identity. Currently, over 800 million identity numbers have been issued