In an audacious technological mission, India is building a near foolproof database of personal biometric identities for nearly a billion people, something that has never been attempted anywhere in the world.
Poorer Indians who have no proof to offer of their existence will leapfrog into a national online system, another global first, where their identities can be validated anytime anywhere in a few seconds.
"India will outdo the world's biggest biometric databases including those of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US-VISIT visa programme," says Nandan Nilekani, the technology tycoon who heads the programme popularly called by its acronym UIDAI.
The United States' visa programme is a biometric database of 120 million.
In comparison, the UIDAI has already registered 200 million members, less than two years after the first enrolment.
By 2014 half of India's population will have an identity tagged to a random, unique 12-digit number.
As more and more Indians have their fingerprints taken, irises scanned and photographs clicked, UIDAI's chief technology architect Pramod Varma describes the database structure as a "Google-meets-Facebook" scale out.
With its internet-class open source backbone, the database will accommodate more than 12 billion fingerprints, 2.4 billion iris scans and 1.2 billion photographs.
Even more groundbreaking, once established and stored, a person's identity can easily be verified and authenticated using a cell phone, smart phone, tablet or any other device hooked to the internet.
The information is stored in a fortress-like data centre in Bangalore with a triple layer of security, and travels in highly encrypted packets.
Many of the radical ideas for UIDAI's technology have come from the talent the project has drawn from the Indian diaspora - tech entrepreneurs like Bala Parthasarathy of HP-acquired photo service, Snapfish and Silicon Valley returnees like Srikanth Nadhamuni, formerly with Intel.
Mr Nilekani himself co-founded and built the multi-billion dollar outsourcing company Infosys before being drafted by the government to head the project.
Under the guise of helping "poorer Indians", everyone else gets tagged too. Nilekani stands to become a very rich man off of this crap...