State of Aadhaar Initiative 2016-2018

An IDinsight officer interviews a community member in West Bengal on her experiences with Aadhaar.

An IDinsight officer interviews a community member in West Bengal on her experiences with Aadhaar.

Sponsor: Omidyar Network
Location: India
Sector: Digital Identity and Governance
Dates of Service: 2016-2018
IDinsight Service: Landscape and evidence review, data-analytics
IDinsight Contact: Ronald Abraham
Status: Complete

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.


Evidence Needs

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.

Generating Insights

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.

Additional Resources:


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.

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.


Media Coverage


We transitioned the State of Aadhaar activities to Dalberg in November 2018. For updates on the current project, please visit