Lets look at a related area. The Benami Act was intended to prevent people from circumventing taxes and land ceiling laws - which they were doing by creating fake identities. While the law is in place providing the deterrance, as its without a real means of enforcement, its a paper tiger. However, with the UIN, I presume it will be necessary to record the UINs for all high value transactions ... don't be surprised if lots of land (bank accounts, lockers, shares, etc) suddenly turns up without an identifiable owner. Or people / identities being traded in the grey market so that these properties can be monetized !
Of course the UIN will hopefully reverse the undemocratic trend that's been taking place in the garb of security. In essence, to prove your identity in India today, you need to own property, or be legally related to someone who owns property, or you need to rent property. You cannot simply stay with your friend, or have a live-in relationship, or even be a domestic servant ... that is just not good enough for a passport, a bank account, a PAN number, a driving licence or a ration card. This is really going back over a century when in many countries, you needed a certain level of wealth in order to vote. There are many people in India who are gradually being pushed out of the system, or simply using jugaad to circumvent the system ... as will all the fraudsters and the terrorists.
Quite a few commentators feel that the UIN will obviate the need for an address. However, I remain rather pessimistic about this. I am sure the powers that be will claim that identity is different from residence. And for the first time enrolment, it will be necessary to record an address. Which will need to be verified, and certified. By the Police. (For chai-pani. And property records that they can file for CYA purposes.) And to change the address, we will need the same stuff. And the address is necessary ... where will legal notices go if you float around the country ? How will we trace you if you are a terrorist ? And so many big-ticket items go on the basis of location - fiscal transfers are based on the number of people, taxes paid, small savings, etc. If people don't have a address, then what do we do ?
The last aspect to touch upon is the impact this project is having on the upper and upper-middle classes of India. This project, or Nandan, or the way its been given cabinet ministerial status, or its B-HAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) seems to have inspired many. Among my circle of acquaintances, I know of one person who's consulting with UIN, one person who is joining them shortly and others who would like to contribute. And the buzz is that the UIDAI is flooded with resumes of people wanting to do this.
Its rather funny. Imagine a project in a company to create a unique number for each employee. Being assigned to such a project is unlikely to be a short-cut to the board room. And people are unlikely to be really inspired by it. Or if the UIDAI were tasked with the responsibility of the census ... that's much less sexy. There is something quite interesting going on here, and it is worth some investigating it. If we can understand what is driving it, we will have a way to engage a rather wealthy and powerful group of people in governing India. This is something the US has done rather well ... witness all the CEOs and top notch academics going in for stints in the Government. It helps raise the quality of governance quite a bit. And it slants the governance toward the rich quite a lot.