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August 02, 2017

What Does The Biographer Of Aadhaar Think Of It?

Shankkar Aiyar, Visiting Fellow at IDFC Institute, gave an exclusive interview in this Swarajya article on his recent book, ‘Aadhaar: a biometric history of India’s 12 digit revolution’. Excerpts:

 

"Do you believe leaders from India’s principal political parties – beyond ideological grandstanding – see merit in the idea of Aadhaar, especially as a tool for delivering welfare and services? 

 

The fact that two national parties, with divergent dogmata, invested political capital on the idea of Aadhaar, and enabled the creation of the world’s largest identification platform with 1.15 billion identities, is evidence of a rare commonality of purpose. For decades trillions of rupees were spent but governments struggled to deliver benefits and services to intended persons – this was accepted right from Rajiv Gandhi’s famous 15 paise per rupee statement. The bipartisan belief is driven by an acceptance of the need for an instrument that would enable delivery of welfare. For efficacy it needs to be backed by systemic reforms, adequate infrastructure and a law for data protection and privacy."

 

"...Getting Nandan Nilekani to spearhead the Aadhaar project was clearly a case of inspired selection. What was the special expertise he was able to bring to this project?

 

The choice of Nandan Nilekani was critical – and this is validated by Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee and indeed, leaders across the political spectrum. Nilekani attracted talent for the project and brought to the table the ability to catalyse collaboration between those in the system and those from outside. His ability to think out of the box led to the design of the hour-glass architecture which deploys identification at the base and enables applications on top for targeted delivery of subsidies, for enabling access to services to delivery and for financial inclusion."

 

Read the whole interview here.

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