UIDAI's Aadhaar Project: Challenges Ahead
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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.
"In the Indira years, the slogan was 'garibi hatao... In the 1970s and 1980s, people's aspirations had focused on basic essentials - roti, kapda, aur makaan... Since the reforms in the 1990s, the emphasis moved to...bijli, sadak, and paani. In recent years, as growth has accelerated and access to basic infrastructure has improved further, aspirations among the poor have shifted again... Today, it's all virtual things - it's about UID number, mobile phone, and bank account... With that, they can access services, benefits, and their rights... We are looking at a post-Aadhaar world." 1
- Nandan Nilekani, former CEO and co-founder and of Infosys Technologies Limited (Infosys) and Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, commenting on Aadhaar, in 2010
"Technologically, it [Aadhaar] is a very simple project. The challenge is in making sure that literally hundreds of thousands of officers fall in line, (and that) they rally to his [Nandan Nilekani] call and march to his tune" 2
- NR Narayana Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, commenting on Aadhaar and UIDAI's Chairman, Nandan Nilekani, in September 2011
The number served as proof of address and identity for citizens anywhere in India. The Aadhaar project was initiated by the United Progressive Alliance4 (UPA) under the guidance of Manmohan Singh (Singh), Prime Minister (PM) of India and member of the UPA, to provide an identity to the 1.2 billion citizens of India. The project aimed to plug loopholes in welfare programs where checking leakages and identifying beneficiaries was a major challenge. There was an absolute guarantee that no two people would have the same Aadhaar, according to the UIDAI. Besides, it could not be duplicated either. Thus on January 28, 2009, the UIDAI was constituted under the aegis of the Planning Commission5. Subsequently in June 2009, Nilekani was invited by Singh to head the Aadhaar project and was given the rank of a union cabinet minister as Chairperson of the UIDAI. After being appointed UIDAI Chairman, Nilekani said, "The Government has come to the conclusion that this project is strategic and worth it. I have been invited to lead this project. I believe that it is viable and I will do my best to make it viable.6"
1] R Ramakumar, "Identity Concerns," http://www.frontlineonnet.com, 2010.