For more than 4 years, the 12-digit number called Aadhaar has generated more debate than action.

But now that 18 crore Indians do have this number and 42 crore more should have it by April 2013, it’s time to focus more on what the number will—and can—really do.
For, it is the utility of the card that will make all the struggle in its implementation worthwhile—or worthless.
Here’s a look at the six most asked questions on UID
1) What is Aadhaar authentication ? Is an individual’s right of privacy ensured? 

Aadhaar authentication is a process through which the number, along with other attributes (demographics , biometrics or One-Time Pin), is submitted to UIDAI’sCentral Identities Data Repository (CIDR) for verification ; the CIDR verifies whether the data submitted matches the data available in CIDR and responds with a “yes/no” . No personal identity information is returned as part of the response.

2) When do I need to authenticate? 

Service providers, such as the government for PDS and NREGA or banks, are expected to link Aadhaar authentication to their services. Residents would need to authenticate either at the time of subscribing to the service or at the time of availing service delivery . Then no one else can avail the benefits meant for a particular resident.

3) How will children be captured in the database? 

No biometrics for children below 5 years; their UID will be processed on the basis of demographic information and photograph linked with their parents’ UID. Once they are five years old, they need to be re-enrolled with biometrics of 10 fingers, iris and pho tograph. Biometrics will be updated once they turn 15.

4) What about biometrics of the differently-abled and people with no finger prints or those without fingers? 

Biometric standards prescribed will ensure that these groups are not excluded. In the case of people without hands/ fingers only photo will be used for identity determination and there will be markers to determine uniqueness.

5) How will an Aadhaar-enabled bank account help a resident who already has a bank account? 

The resident can link existing bank account to Adhaar as disbursement of social security benefits like pensions, scholarships or MGNREGS wages would only be through Aadhaar-enabled accounts .

UIDAI is working with states and central ministries to designate Aadhaar-enabled accounts for disbursal of all social security benefits. The individual would be able to access Aadhaar enabled bank account through a low-cost micro-ATM network which will have large geographical reach. Instant payments through biometric authentication and mobile payments will also be enabled in the future for such accounts.

6) What are micro-ATMs ? How will they work in the Aadhaar system? 

Micro-ATMs are biometric authentication enabled hand-held device (also known as a Point of Transaction terminal). They will primarily allow the following functions: cash withdrawal, cash deposit, balance enquiry and remittances . These devices will be operated by business correspondents (BCs) appointed by banks.

The physical currency would be handled by this BC and not a machine like a regular ATM. All transactions will require online biometric authentication with the UIDAI authentication server in order to be processed.