Questions for pre-module case analysis:
- In what area will Aadhaar / Unique ID have the biggest beneficial effect?
- Where will opposition, explicit or inadvertent, or other obstacles, come from in the next one to two years in the Aadhaar / Unique ID efforts?
- What could Nandan Nilekani’s team have done differently in the past? What should they be thinking about (differently) for the near future (one to two years)?
Limit your analysis to the information contained in the case description (2000 words). The use of outside sources of information is not encouraged. The focus of the effort should be on applying your judgments and interpretations to the issues presented in the case material.
Aadhar / unique card ID will have beneficial effects in many parts of this newly growing society of our country
The various places of benefits can be listed down as follows
- The Rural Inclusiveness – India has always been affected by the huge disparity that prevails between the various sections of the society specifically the huge gap between the urban and the rural population that is ever increasing which has made the thought of India being the most progressive and emerging superpower and also the march towards being a developed country a joke in many domains and also impossible in many others. This also stems from the fact that many of the people living in this rural areas not only have the sufficient means to increase their lifestyle to a more acceptable level they do not even have their own identity. Aadhar by giving this unique identity to every Indian will help to not only reduce fraudulent identities to stay in the country and enjoy all the benefits that come with it but also will result in a much easier way for these rural people to claim their rights and privileges without going through any lengthy process of corruption and bribery
- Effective Distribution of Basic Services – Though Indian government every year spends a massive amount to provide free facilities and support to the people in the lowest rung of the society but the hugely prevalent corruption and also the lack of any means to specify or exactly identify a citizen of India results in many fraudulent transactions starting from corrupted individuals taking up the benefits of the other or even in cases the same person taking the same benefits multiple times due to this loophole in the system. Aadhar because is able to exactly identify the person will not only help to stop all these types of forgery by using the deduplication as well the identification principles which uniquely identifies each individual but will also make sure that the benefits and offers that are being made by the government for the general upliftment of the whole community will not reach a blockade every time due to the murky depths of the rural politics and ignorance and will actually result in a much more all-inclusive development.
- Integration with various other operators – In the absence of a single point of identification in the past for making everything starting from opening a bank account to getting the rations that are allocated to you by the government, you needed a different types of cards as well as different types of documents thus making it a very cumbersome process. This also resulted in many people who were ignorant or due to lack of resources who might not have had anyone of this document being completely shoved away from the continuous stream of development that India is boasting itself to be in right now. The acceptance of Aadhar card nowadays for almost all events starting from your background verification to opening up a bank account has helped to create a widespread acceptance towards it and also the above mentioned people who would have lost many of the benefits that they are entitled to due to ignorance now through the Aadhar are able to fulfil them which was very much evident from the huge queues that would adorn the Aadhar operator counters during the enrolment. Due to the ever progressing India towards uniquely identifying all its citizens due to the unique Aadhar card and number posted to that not only can government spread their benefits to the most grassroots level of the Indian society but can also now link this number to various other sources and databases and get a much more reliable picture of where they are lagging and thus refine their strategies to tackle the same. This became the one-stop destination for truly evolving India towards a path of all-inclusive development.
The biggest obstacle that Aadhar will face and has been facing is to make it clear what the undeniable importance of Aadhar is the present scenario of India. It is a card that has been on multiple occasion has been told by Nandan Nilekani hold only the power to uniquely identify the individual to which it belongs to makes its scope very limited. This specific path that was decided on keeping the Aadhar devoid from having any power to bestow any sort of advantages or entitlement to the people thus makes it almost devoid of any power. The opposition may raise the point that almost the same amount of information and usefulness could have been implemented by maybe updating the Pan Card or the Voter Card to contain some sort of identification mechanism be it the retina scanner or the fingerprint scanner with the similar algorithm of identification or the deduplication mechanism and might have been able to get the same power as Aadhar does along with the identification and benefits of the Pan Card. Thus such a huge exercise might have been done without any reason, and the money and funds spent uselessly
The second problem that might become more of a technical obstacle stems from the fact that the data collected in Aadhar is of a very simple nature and comprises of only the most basic information of an individual in order to make the database light and thus increase the speed in which the searching and the authentication can be done. This though has the advantages of its own the primary being able to meet the standards promoted by the makers of being able to come with a yes or no answer to identification matching within 8 seconds may face a lot of problem when the Aadhar might be required to expand its field of you or may assimilate or connect to any other database thus making it more useful and also to use the huge largely efficient database that it contains other types of beneficial programmes and victim segmentation. The easy and simple nature of the database might result in an obstacle to this path and might result in another full-scale operation to be initiated in order to achieve this requirement.
The third problem which is more of a social in nature comes with the recent developments of understanding and sensitiveness towards sharing of data as well as the growing suspicion on the various governments of the countries of using the data that they have on the citizens to continuously monitor them and use unlawful and illegal ways to do so after the huge incident of Snowden. Though the data that are required in the present scenario by the Aadhar is of much basic nature and might not really create much of a furore or social backlash any increase in the future to a much more detailed database and the needs therefore for the citizen to give much more intricate data about themselves might result in huge discontent and backlash for the same. This will be augmented by the fact that the Aadhar doesn’t provide any other benefit other than just uniquely identifying a person to be what or who he says he is. Though the government might be using and implementing the Aadhar only for beneficial reasons with the most benefits going to the ignorant rural population without various basic cards like ration and voter card to be able to gain their privileges this might not have that much of an appeal to the urban population and thus this combined with the aforementioned social sensitivity might result in a huge blockade
Having said all this a huge amount of the success or the failure of a project depends on how the government, as well as the UIDAI, can tackle the scenarios as well as respond and adapt. Though the above-mentioned points do add up to be problems, they can also be used as stepping stones and used to improve the future viability of the project.
Though Aadhar project to me does ring to be one of comparative success with the amount of integration that it has achieved across the operators and also the expansion that it has been able to sustain through most of the rural villages there are of course certain updates or things that I believe could have been or should be done differently
- Though I do believe that giving people the choice to actually keep the Aadhar card as optional was in itself a good gesture but it is also amply clear that if you would want to make sure that a technology that solely depends on the number of people that are using it needs to go to success then it should be made mandatory. This mandate need not be forceful but can be subtly put in by using the various operators (e.g. banks) etc. who are promoting it to simplify the operations that customers do within making it a must to continue with the operation. This will not only increase the number of the people who are being made to use and enrol to the Aadhar card as in directions from the bank or any third party operator but will also give a first-hand experience to this people on how advantageous and easy the usage of the Aadhar card can make their everyday working to be. This people themselves will act as a promoter of the card from there on. Also in a country where the dissemination of information is very uneven, there is a high chance that making it optional may lead to its benefits or its usage to not at all reach the remote parts of the country and thus continue with the same disparity of benefits and corruptions that it specifically tried to solve. Making it mandatory may get a lot of flak at the beginning, but it will on usage and implementation be able to reach a far larger audience than it would normally have had.
- The second problem that I feel that Aadhar could have done differently is not to keep the data collection too simple. Though it is agreed that the main task of the UIDAI group was to create a system to exactly and uniquely identify each individual, but I do believe that with the most basics of the information that it has collected as part of keeping it light might be a huge obstacle and UIDAI should actively look into it and maybe add some more really relevant field from different databases before this is actually brought into light that the Aadhar is a completely stand-alone system and is not really useful in expanding the scope to a much bigger purview that month really able to implement a far bigger and more extensive way of making all the data and the services that come with them free from any hands of corruption as well as fraudulent and duplicate records. In other words I feel that keeping the Aadhar limited to only a few basic records is nothing but completely losing the potential opportunities that could have been gained through the use of the first ever truly clean database of the citizens that India has and had it been holding a little bit more data for example may be the yearly income / bank accounts etc or even if there was a way in which the other card (voter , ration) numbers could be connected with it be as simple as keeping a field to enter them and in the meantime checking for duplicity it might have been able to clean up the messy system of India in a much better way and thus could have been much more advantageous
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