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The Street View

Macro Forum insights and perspectives March 2018

05 March 2018
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In enrolling more than a billion citizens, India’s national biometric database is now ten times larger than similar programs in the world and has been described by the World Bank as the “world’s most sophisticated digital identity scheme”.

The Aadhaar project – meaning “foundation” in Hindi – was launched eight years ago with the express objective of identifying gaps in the social welfare payment network. Since then the scope has widened to driving financial inclusion, enabling digital payments and even detecting tax evasion. The proliferation of Aadhaar as the default mechanism for authenticating the identity of Indians has polarized opinions – supporters believe it capable of transforming the lives of millions of Indians while skeptics see a threat of intrusion by the state as well as the possible inadvertent denial of benefits to some of India’s poorest citizens who are not yet members of the scheme.

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