The Science of Delivering Online IDs to a Billion People: The Aadhaar Experience
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The Science of Delivering Online IDs to a Billion People: The Aadhaar Experience

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DATE: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
TIME: 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. (13:00 – 14:30 GMT or convert time)
LOCATION: Online and World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC

As part of the Bank's Development Economics Lecture series, Nandan Nilekani, one of the world's leading entrepreneurs in information technology, spoke on Aadhaar, India's massive initiative to create a unique system for the biometric identification of its residents. Aadhaar has already assigned 12 digit identification numbers to over 300 million people and will eventually enroll all of India's 1.2 billion residents.

Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Kaushik Basu chaired the event, introducing the speaker, the topic, and its implications for development. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim delivered opening remarks and commented on the importance of the subject to the World Bank Group. Questions and answers followed Mr. Nilekani's talk.

The Unique Identification Authority of India created the system with an open programmable interface so that multiple applications can be built. The first major application Direct Benefits Transfer will electronically distribute money to millions of people by the end of 2013. Over the next few years a large number of applications providing transformational benefits to residents of India are expected to be developed by public and private entities.

The Aadhaar initiative uses the most sophisticated technology (Internet class architecture, multi-modal biometrics, ubiquitous data connectivity, tablets, etc.) to solve the most basic of development challenges. The project is being implemented as an open ecosystem, where enrollment will drive applications, and more applications will drive enrollment. The Aadhaar project is an example of doing a very large development project which requires, scale, speed, quality, and low costs goals to be met.

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Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, World Bank Group
Entrepreneur and Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India
President, World Bank Group
Read what others are asking
Ishan Chawla
will Adhaar be able to provide help with Financial Inclusion process which will ultimately help process of electronic transfer of Direct benifits to the Poor,for some poor this might be the first identification document that they might have,will Banks open bank accounts just on this ID
UID will help in eliminating fake beneficiaries. But it should be made mandatory for full scale implementation of targeted scheme benefits.
Vinod K R
It is unaffordable for the poor to pay the amount at market price for foodgrains under PDS everytime right? Furthermore do you have any safeguard in stopping delay in reaching of subsidised amount to the beneficiary?Do you have any safeguards in irregularities distribution of adhaar cards?
United States
We've seen plenty of silver bullet's offered in development, all fail. Yet the discussion here offers yet another silver bullet - why are we forgetting that context matters and things do not go as planned?
Govind Hariharan
United States
What is the time frame by which significant impact on poverty reduction goals will be felt? What are the likely factors driving the magnitude of impact across different states, social and economic classes?
Sierra Leone
Do you think we achieve the goal eliminating extreme poverty if we don't strengthen the capacity of Government functionaries and establish good planing, monitoring and evaluation machenisms to learn from past sucesses and challenges and improve on current initiatves?
United States
What are the implications of a system like this for loss of privacy?