India’s Unique Identification program, known as the Aadhaar project, is the largest ID project of its kind currently in the world. Aadhaar, which means ‘foundation’ in English, is a 12 digit individual identification number issued to a resident in India by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The project aims to provide a unique ID to 1.2 billion resident population of India and has already issued close to 600 million since September 2010.
Aadhaar is not just an ID number but also a platform for enabling access to public services to large sections of the population in India that have been excluded due to absence of documents for establishing their identity. Aadhaar is one of the key means to enable social and financial inclusion in India. Its adoption across all public services and welfare programs covering employment, health, social security, food distribution, etc. has already seen some early successes. Aadhaar can potentially help reduce the leakage, wastage and diversion of benefits that presently mars the various welfare schemes of central and state governments in India, making the distribution of benefits more effective and equitable. It can also bring in better transparency and accountability in government service delivery.
The Aadhaar project demonstrates how an inherently simple idea of offering a unique ID and providing an online ID platform can scale up to cover a billion people and promote innovation in public service delivery. In essence, the Aadhaar concept has the necessary ingredients to be a ‘killer app’ for fighting poverty, making it one of the effective models for adoption across the world. Yet, has this promise been fulfilled? There have been some concerns in India about Aadhar legitimizing illegal immigrants into the country. A concern about the risks of storing Aadhar data outside of national boundaries has also been expressed. Are such concerns valid? The Aadhar program is a good example of a successful partnership with the private sector (from design to managed services). Therefore, we invited a lead industry partner of the Aadhaar program to respond to this question from the private sector perspective.
March 20, 2014
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm