1.2 It is true that many aspects of the unique identification (UID) project are at variance from the typical identity systems existing either in India or elsewhere in the world. It has also introduced some new paradigms, which have not yet become fashionable. It also breaks some long-established stereotypes about ID systems. It is largely due to these reasons that many of its design and operational aspects have come in for heavy criticism.
1.3 Right from the start, there were many who were questioning the basic design principles. As the implementation progressed, many of these criticisms have become somewhat muted. Nevertheless, there remain a few aspects that are not yet fully appreciated.
Why is it a number, not a card?
2.1 When UIDAI issued its strategy paper in August 2009, it declared that UID will issue only numbers and not cards. When this statement was made, many were surprised. Traditionally, identities are always issued in the form of ID cards; never heard of an identity number. Now, UIDAI is saying that it is a number and not a card. What is the significance and implication of this statement?
2.2 One of the most important reasons is that Aadhaar has been designed to be next-generation online identity platform. As against this, a card (which normally connotes a smart card) is an offline token. In an online and connected world, tokens lose their value.