India has launched a national identity scheme that will eventually log details of its population of more than one billion people on a central database.
The scheme was launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party head, Sonia Gandhi, in western India.
The BBC reports it will use modern biometric methods stored online in a national database.
Officials say the programme will help those in poor, marginalised communities who find it difficult to access public services and benefits because they do not have official records.
The government expects to give a unique identification number to every citizen within four years.
Birth registration is not universal in India.
The scheme was launched in the village of Tembhili in Nandurbar district of western Maharashtra state. ID numbers were given to 10 people, including three children.