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Plans for citizen ePassports announced in India

The Indian Government is set to introduce an electronic and biometric passport to its citizens.

Piloted in 2008 as a test, electronic passports were issued to diplomats and other high-level officials and now the Ministry of External Affairs is ready to begin distributing the passports to Indians across the country.

Reported in iGovernment.in, the new passports contain an RFID chip in the front cover which holds a digital photograph of the passport holder as well as biometric fingerprint information.

According to the iGovernment.in report, the Ministry of External Affairs has floated a tender for the electronic chips to be used in the passports.

No stranger to biometrics, India is a hotbed for programs leveraging biometrics today. Reported previously, the fourth phase of the UIDAI’s Aadhaar program has recently been approved and aims to enroll 400 million people.

Reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, based on the IMF’s recently published report, “Regional Outlook: Asia and Pacific,” the group notes that the integration of direct cash transfer with Aadhaar will take time, but will ultimately help the Indian government save 0.5 percent of the annual GDP.

In addition, A recent research report on the Indian biometrics market says it is poised for significant growth, thanks in part to the Aadhaar program and direct cash transfer scheme.

According to a SecureIDNews report from 2012, 93 out of 193 U.N member states were issuing e-passports at the time, with 21 additional countries ready to deploy the technology in the next 2 years. India is one of the latest to join this growing list.

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