Now a UID drive for Railway employees

Alongside the ongoing nationwide drive for Unique Identification (UID) number, another ID initiative of mammoth proportions is unfolding to define each of the 25 lakh railway employees — both past and present — with an exclusive seven-digit number.

Known as RUID (Railway Unique Identification) number, this is the world's largest commercial utility employer's bid to bring its human resources under one umbrella of identification — something it didn't have in its 160 years of operation.

The need for RUID arose when it was felt that in its rolls of serving as well as retired employees the coincidence of more than one person having the same name was occurring much too frequently, causing administrative inconvenience. In the records of over 25 lakh people, common names such as 'Ram Singh', 'Anil Kumar' were cropping up everywhere with different identities and service files. For the Railway Ministry, ascertaining who is who was becoming a tedious task. The need, therefore, was to migrate to a nameless, randomly-generated number. Since the ministry functions through zonal railways, each employee used to be given a new service record number upon transfer between railways and this number, too, was assigned only after completing one year in service. Now, every new employee is being assigned this number right after joining. The system worked fine until the Railways realised that every individual was a collection of a number of IDs like PAN, voter ID.

"The current RUID will be valid for about 100 years even after retirement or demise of the employee. The system can accommodate 99 lakh unique numbers," said an official. After 99 lakh slots are filled in say, 50 years, the new set of RUIDs will probably become eight-digit ones, he added.

Of the 13 lakh serving employees, around 6.5 lakh have been assigned "safety category". This huge digital exercise is being carried out without any outsourcing to private players.

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