Technology can be transformational. And India’s Aadhaar digital ID is an initiative in this direction that is estimated to save the government nearly 1 billion dollar annually by controlling corruption and promote inclusion, efficiency and innovation. Captivated by the success of Aadhaar in India, the World Bank is largely taking away from these experiences to advise other countries frame similar strategies.
World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu believes that the digital identity mechanism is saving a great deal for the Indian government by reducing leakage and improving distribution in the country. The World Bank officials in its series of meetings with the senior leaders of Aadhaar were explained about the various subsidy programs that Aadhaar is being used for. It also emphasised on the cost of issuing the digital card at less than 1$. They were also enthralled to observe the power of doorstep banking and direct transfer of subsidies brought by the Aadhaar ID card. Since it can be authenticated anywhere anytime at no additional cost, Aadhaar has multiple benefits that enables easy access of services to the poorer segment of the society.
The World Bank has acknowledged that India’s Aadhaar, the digital identification system, has been able to successfully overcome complex information problems and get a step closer to help the government promote financial inclusion to the under-served segment of the country. Owing to its robust mechanism that is highly secure, many companies’ especially mobile application firms are drawing on the Aadhaar system to extend several authentication services to its customer base. While recognizing the Indian effort, Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group said, “Digital technologies are transforming the worlds of business, work, and government”.
Although the team in its unrelenting efforts is trying to connect everyone to the primary objective, countries must equally improve their business climate; invest in educating their people and health and work towards good governance in order to gradually move towards a paperless and a cashless commercial environment.
Linking Aadhaar card to the welfare schemes such as Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG, MNREGA, National Social Assistance Programme, Employees Provident Fund Organisation and Public Distribution System is running on a full swing while the saturation point of generating Aadhaar cards has peaked in states such as Haryana at 98%. About 2.62 crore cards have been generated against the state’s projected population of 2.67 crore. The migrant community is one of the largest communities that have been issued Aadhaar cards.
While these achievements are to be celebrated, it must be kept in mind that nearly 20% of the world’s population cannot read or write and thus, spread of digital technologies alone will not lead to an end to the global knowledge divide.