The government on Thursday set in motion the process of providing a Unique Identification Number to India's citizens and appointed Infosys Technologies co-chairman Nandan Nilekani as head of an authority for this purpose.
Nilekani stepped down from the Infosys board after this appointment.
"The board of directors at Infosys has already accepted Nilekani's resignation. The resignation would be effective from July 9, 2009," the company said.
Nilekani will take charge as chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India with the rank of Cabinet minister.
As co-founder of India's second-largest software exporting firm, Nilekani served as director on the Infosys board since its inception in 1981.
Between March 2002 and June 2007, he served as the company's chief executive officer and managing director.
He was later re-designated as co-chairman of the board of directors.
"We are glad that an extraordinary individual like Nandan has got an opportunity to add value to India through this position. As a company that has always put the interest of society ahead of itself, Infosys will accept his absence with a sense of duty to a larger cause," Infosys chairman and mentor N R Narayana Murthy said.
The move to set up the UID Authority of India, under the aegis of the Planning Commission, is aimed at providing a unique identity to the targeted population of the flagship schemes to ensure that the benefits reach them, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni told reporters here after the Cabinet meeting.
As chairman of the body, Nilekani will have Cabinet minister rank and status, she said.
"The authority shall have the responsibilities to lay down plans and policies to implement the Unique Identification Scheme, shall own and operate the Unique Identification number database and be responsible for its updation and maintenance on an ongoing basis," she said.
The authority will identify the targeted groups for various flagship programmes, she added.
The flagship schemes of the United Progressive Alliance include the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, National Rural Health Mission and Bharat Nirman.
The unique identification number would ensure that any lacuna in these schemes is removed so that the benefits do not reach those they are not meant for.
The government had earmarked Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) in the interim Budget presented by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament on February 16 to kickstart its ambitious Unique Identification Project.
The government has been working on improving arrangements to ensure that development deliverables reach the intended beneficiaries, Mukherjee had said.
In order to do so efficiently, effectively and economically, a comprehensive system of unique identity had been worked out, he had added.
The government also plans to set up state units of UIDAI, headed by state UID commissioners.
Earlier, an empowered group of ministers had approved setting up UIDAI with an initial core team in November 2008.