Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Indian government to every individual resident of India. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UDAI), which functions under the Planning Commission of India, is responsible for managing Aadhaar numbers and Aadhaar identification cards.
The Aadhaar project was initiated as an attempt towards having a single, unique identification document or number that would capture all the details, including demographic and biometric information, of every resident Indian individual. Currently there are a plethora of identity documents in India including passports, permanent account numbers (PANs), driving licenses and ration cards. The Aadhaar card / UID will not replace these identification documents but can be used as the sole identification proof when applying for other things. It will also serve as the basis for Know Your Customer (KYC) norms used by banks, financial institutions, telecom firms and other businesses that maintain customer profiles. Aadhaar numbers will eventually serve as the basis for a database with which disadvantaged Indian residents can access services that have been denied to them due to lack of identification documents.
A resident Indian can apply for the Aadhaar number and card by submitting the existing proof of identity (passport, PAN card, driving license, etc.) and proof of address (phone/ power bill, bank statements, etc.) and by undergoing biometric profiling (fingerprints and iris scan) at any Aadhaar center.