A proposal approved by the cabinet will constitute a statutory authority to be called the National Identification Authority of India. It’s the new name for UIDAI.
The Union Cabinet on Friday approved a proposal to introduce the National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill 2010 in Parliament.
The bill proposes to constitute a statutory authority to be called the National Identification Authority of India and lay down the powers and functions of the Authority, the framework for issuing unique identification (UID) numbers (Aadhaar numbers), major penalties and other related matters through an Act of Parliament. The proposal by the government is not new, apart from a new name for the controversial Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
"After the bill is passed in Parliament, the name UIDAI would be changed to NIAI. The rest of the functioning and job of the authority would remain the same," said Awadhesh Kumar Pandey, assistant director general for media, UIDAI.
According to a statement released by the government, the setting up will involve an expenditure of Rs3023.01 crore, which includes project components for issue of UID numbers (called Aadhaar numbers) by March 2011, and recurring establishment costs for the entire project phase, over five years ending March 2014.
The statement tries to provide more information about Aadhaar, but creates more confusion. It says, "The UID project is primarily aimed at ensuing inclusive growth, by providing a form of identity to those who do not have any identity." Does this mean that those who have an identity will not get the Aadhaar numbers? In addition, what about the inclusive growth of other people who already have some kind of identification? There are hardly any answers to these questions.
The statement also talks about strengthening of equity among marginalised sections of society. It is not clear how the Aadhaar numbers would be able to do this. The government claims that apart from providing an identity, the Aadhaar numbers would enable better delivery of services and effective governance. Would this imply that someone from Tembhali village in north Maharashtra's Nandurbar district will automatically receive food under the public distribution system (PDS), when the middlemen have looted the food before it can even reach the shop?
What's more serious is that the government does not say anywhere that the Aadhaar numbers will be issued to the citizens of India. Instead, it mentions that the Aadhaar numbers will be issued to "individuals residing in India and to certain other classes of individuals". This means that immigrants from neighbouring countries, residing illegally in India, would be able to procure such numbers too, akin to the ration card (PDS Card), and become citizens of the country.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the ambitious UID project at Tembhali village in north Maharashtra's Nandurbar district this month-end. According to a report from the Press Trust of India, the 12-digit Aadhaar number will be mandatory for all government schemes and will serve as a unique identification number for citizens.
To get the number, citizens are required to produce any of 29 listed documents as proof of domicile. If no document is produced, the district collector in rural areas and municipal commissioners in the urban areas will be authorised to issue an identity certificate to the individual.
The scheme involves cross selling health, wellness, beauty and financial products under the garb of preventive healthcare
Jiyo Fit is a new product launched by Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, Yes Bank and Visa. Under this, the policyholder can spend on partner gyms like VLCC, Talwalkars and Gold Gym to earn points; reward points on purchase of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables at high-street retailers; more points on regular medical check-ups and discounts on diagnostic tests at partner clinics; as well as discounts at partner chemists. There is also an option to purchase Visa debit card from Yes Bank at Rs150 per annum and open a zero balance savings account with Yes Bank.
Bajaj Allianz, which has made its name for quality service, will start the Jiyo Fit wellness initiative in 15 towns in India in the first phase.
The big idea is preventive healthcare, says Hemant Kaul, CEO, Bajaj Allianz. The plan is to help reduce the claims ratio through helping policyholders adopt a healthy lifestyle and incentivise them to maintain healthy practices and stay fit. A high claims ratio is killing the health insurance business. Almost all insurers are losing in trying to provide health cover. But the reasons for the high claims ratio lie elsewhere-fraudulent claims, exorbitant hospital costs, medicine costs, lack of proper loading of group insurance. This is bleeding insurers and in turn affecting individual policyholder benefits and premiums.
But what if a policyholder visits a local gym and buys fresh fruits and vegetables from the local subzi mandi with cash, or uses a regular debit card for purchases of health products at high-street retailers? That may keep you healthy and may do as much for preventive healthcare, but it will not earn you points under the Jiyo Fit plan. One will have to go to the marquee gyms and health food retailers under the plan. In that case isn't this a cross-marketing of health, wellness and financial products? A Bajaj Allianz source told Moneylife that the company would not earn commissions from any of the partners. The sole benefit for Bajaj Allianz is a reduction of the claims ratio that would improve profitability.
The sources said that a company survey indicated that women were keen on redeeming points/discounts at beauty clinics and spas. Bajaj Allianz has extended the 'innovative' initiative to accede to the wishes of women policyholder. But the link between beauty clinics and spas and preventive healthcare looks rather stretched.
Indeed, a key component of the 'innovative' preventive healthcare initiative could be the zero-balance savings account from Yes Bank and debit card from Visa. As Uttam Nayak, country manager-South Asia, Visa, puts it, "We have been after Yes Bank for a tie-up for long time and now we are working with them, thanks to the innovative approach from Bajaj Allianz." What has Visa and Yes Bank got to do with Jiyo Fit? Well, some 97% of the personal consumption expense (PCE) is in cash. "The target is to have PCE with 16% electronic usage…soiled cash notes can be unhealthy for individuals," said Nayak.
Do others have similar offerings? New India Assurance gives a discount on the premium if a policyholder shows he has a gym membership. It's a more direct approach, but it does not crosscheck if a policyholder visits the gym regularly. Apollo Munich has a wellness approach with Healthline. Just ring them and quote a customer ID to reach experts and avail their help in primary consultation, health-related counselling, individual referrals, health information, nutrition and diet. The services on the Healthline are available at no extra cost to customers.
Under the Bajaj Allianz initiative, policyholders will earn points for every visit to the gym. It is an optional offer and is not bundled. We are sure more insurance companies will join the bandwagon in the days ahead to propagate the wellness initiative. Of course, its success will depend on simplicity, the quality of health education and the relevance of the services offered.
Construction company Roman Tarmat Ltd said it won an order worth Rs33.8 crore from Saibaba Sansthan Trust for construction-related works.
The company has received a Letter of Intent from the Trust for construction of flexible and rigid pavement for ring roads at Shridi in Maharashtra, the company said in a regulatory filing.
On Friday, Roman Tarmat shares ended 3.7% higher at Rs53 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex closed 0.9% up at 20,045 points.