State of Aadhaar Initiative 2016-2018
Sponsor: Omidyar Network
Sector: Digital Identity and Governance
Dates of Service: 2016-2018
IDinsight Service: Landscape and evidence review, data-analytics
IDinsight Contact: Ronald Abraham
Aadhaar provides identification to more than 1.2 billion Indian residents. Its scale, ability to uniquely identify individuals, and digital interface make it a compelling identification platform. These same features also raise questions about privacy, data security, and exclusion. The debate on Aadhaar had been binary in nature: some felt Aadhaar should be jettisoned, while others felt it should be scaled aggressively. However, the evidence we found on the ground supported a more nuanced approach.
IDinsight aimed to generate data-driven insights within the rapidly evolving Indian government’s digital identity (Aadhaar) ecosystem as well as promote data-informed discourse and decision-making through this initiative.
IDinsight conducted primary and secondary research to generate key insights and further a comprehensive understanding of the Aadhaar landscape.
Based on the largest independent survey conducted on Aadhaar to date, State of Aadhaar Report 2017-18 shed light on rural users’ interactions and experiences with Aadhaar across three states: Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, and West Bengal.
State of Aadhaar Report 2016-17 covers Aadhaar’s technological and operational architecture, its legal and governance framework, and its applications in financial inclusion, social protection, and emerging uses in other sectors, such as health, education, and telecommunications.
IDinsight built and maintained a website which served as a tool for practitioners and researchers interested in digital identity that provided up-to-date information on Aadhaar, including data visualisations, databases on use-cases and literature, and libraries of datasets and official documents.
IDinsight’s State of Aadhaar Team penned op-eds for national newspapers and blog pieces sharing insight on various aspects of Aadhaar.
World's biggest ID scheme Aadhaar still poses risks | BBC News | 26 September 2018
Calling for a more empirical debate on the Aadhaar experience | LiveMint | 17 May 2018
Clearing the air on Aadhaar data breach | LiveMint | 16 January 2018
Privacy issues exist even without Aadhaar | LiveMint | 16 November 2017
Aadhaar needs a privacy law | LiveMint | 15 November 2017
A selection of blog posts can be found here.
We also maintained a Twitter account to share real-time data insights, commentaries, and news updates on Aadhaar. A selection of twitter posts can be found here.
Promoting Data-Driven Discourse
Using insights from our research, our team created tailored content for a targeted audience of opinion-makers to promote data-driven discourse on Aadhaar
Through this initiative, we have shared our research – and our data-driven approach – with more than 1000 policymakers, practitioners, and politicians. In the midst of the years' Supreme Court cases and the introduction of various legislation, our team promoted a careful and case-by-case evaluation of Aadhaar’s applications using objective data and evidence.
IDinsight also supported the Indian School of Business and Omidyar Network set up the Digital Identity Research Initiative to generate ongoing evidence on the role of digital identity in the Indian and global economy.
Select coverage includes:
Revisiting some myths and realities of Aadhaar | LiveMint
More errors in Aadhaar data in Andhra Pradesh than in voter database | Times of India
These many people denied ration due to Aadhaar-related factors | Financial Express
The economics of Aadhaar | LiveMint
Aadhaar-bank account seeding soars but benefit transfer rate lags | The Hindu Business Line
We transitioned the State of Aadhaar activities to Dalberg in November 2018. For updates on the current project, please visit stateofaadhaar.in.