Game Changing Digital Governance Ideas: The Case Study of Aadhar in India

What is Aadhar and why it can be Transformative to India?

Not a day passes without Indians being reminded of the need to link their Aadhar number with the Banks and Mobile operators, in addition, to continue availing of the various governmental schemes.

Indeed, Aadhar has become a household name in India as well as a case study in many international business and management schools and universities worldwide for its sheer transformative aspects that have the potential to revolutionize the way in which the Indian society operates.

At the same time, there has been concern from advocates and activists of privacy over the intrusive aspects of such a Biometric based Identity card wherein the data about an Individual can be used for nefarious purposes.

Having said that, the fact that it can change the way governance in India operates means that there is any number of supporters even outside the formal policymaking elite and the other stakeholders who are cheering enthusiastically for enrolling and registering their details with the Universal Identity Database.

How Does Aadhar Work in Reality?

So, what exactly is Aadhar and why is it attracting so much attention, praise, and criticism at the same time. To start with, Aadhar is a Proof of Identity that stores the Biometric details such as Fingerprints, and Iris scans along with the name, age, gender, and address as well as the Mobile Phone number of the individuals.

By doing so, the government hopes that there would be a national registry of all citizens that can help in providing better governance as well as to plug the leakages in the delivery of government subsidies and schemes.

To understand how this works, it is important to refer to the Social Security Number or SSN that is used in a similar manner in the United States except that Biometric details are not part of the SSN.

This number which is the marker of identity of all those who are living in the United States at any given point of time ensures that all those are identified by the SSN in addition to using it to access credit cards, bank accounts, enroll in organizations, as well as to avail any schemes from the government.

Indeed, the crucial difference between the SSN and the Aadhar is that the former is open to all those living and working in the United States including noncitizens whereas the latter is purportedly meant only for the Indian citizens.

How and Why Personal Information and Biometric Data are collected?

Having said that, it is also the case that Aadhar despite being restricted only to citizens of India is not a proof of citizenship and is only a proof or at best, a marker of identity.

This distinction is important to note since the Aadhar registration process does not ask for any documents that validate the Date of Birth or Proof of Citizenship and instead, only requires the individuals to submit proof of residence and age and gender through identification cards.

While one might say that even these documents are usually the domain of Indian citizens, the broad-based measures of identity and markers mean that there is a chance for even those who are not born in India or are not citizens to avail and register for an Aadhar card.

Aadhar as a Game Changer for India

Leaving these aside, it is indeed the case that if properly executed and covered, Aadhar can be a game changer for the way governance in India operates.

For instance, any number of government schemes can be linked to Aadhar numbers of the beneficiaries, so that bogus and false beneficiaries are weeded out.

Also, by storing the details in centralized databases, validation and verification of the individual’s biometric information can help both the government as well as the beneficiary to benefit from the same.

To explain, leakages in the form of diverting the funds meant for genuine need and want among the beneficiaries can accrue as only those with the correct and accurate details can be provided the subsidies and funds. In addition, the practice of bogus beneficiaries and fraud can be curbed leading to better utilization of the governmental funds.

The key point to note about why Aadhar can be a game changer for the Indian polity is that it combines the power of centralization of personal details with the decentralization of the last mile connectivity aspects.

In other words, by ensuring that personal information and biometric details are stored in a centralized database, and by decentralizing the delivery wherein the government official at the last mile and the citizen receiving the benefits do not have any scope for fudging or perpetrating frauds.

Concerns about Privacy and Security of the Data

However, there are some concerns that the government by collecting such details and information about the residents is intruding into the privacy of the Indian citizenry and what more, the fact that such details can be stolen and misused as well.

Indeed, there are already some reports that indicate that Aadhar numbers have been leaked as well as hacked which have raised the hackles of privacy advocates and activists. This is the reason why the matter about the debate over privacy and governance has reached the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country.

Thus, it would be interesting to note whether the SC can reach a fair conclusion about Aadhar.

Despite these aspects, it is important to note that if the Indian Government allays the privacy and security concerns and takes steps to protect Aadhar data more robustly, the Aadhar initiative can indeed be a game changer for the way in which Digital Governance can transform India.


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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.


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