Aadhaar cards are used as identification and proof of address in India. Getting the card is voluntary, and every Indian citizen can apply for one. It can be used as identification and verification when applying for certain government programs.
Aadhaar cards were first given out as a national identification card, similar to a Social Security card in the United States, in 2009. The 12-digit number is assigned and monitored by the Unique Identification Authority of India. In addition to demographic and biometric information, citizens applying for the card must have two iris scans, 10 fingerprints and a photograph taken. Since the card is voluntary, it is not required to receive most government benefits except for certain food programs, propane connections and kerosene.
The Aadhaar ID number on the Aadhaar card is a randomly generated number that is unique to every resident Indian individual and is valid throughout his lifetime. The card identifies people based on their biometrics and demographic details.
The card can be used as a proof of address throughout India and can give individuals access to various services, including connections for mobile phones and banking. It can also be used to access various government and non-government services.
Using the Aadhaar card, Indian citizens can take advantage of unemployment benefit schemes and public subsidies such as those for cooking gas connections. In such cases, the benefit or subsidy amount is transferred directly to an Aadhaar-linked bank account of the individual.
The objective of the Aadhaar card is to do away with fake identifies existing in the databases of the private and government sectors. It also aims to enable poor individuals to identify themselves to the banks for transacting micropayments.
Enrollment for the card is not mandatory, but is available for all citizens, including infants and children.