India has the world’s largest biometric enabled digital identity system which is a fascinating subject for research – the outcomes of which can serve as a good model for other countries to replicate. Keeping this in mind, the Indian School of Business (ISB) has announced the launch of a Digital Identity Research Initiative (DIRI) – a multi-disciplinary study on India’s unique identity system, Aadhaar, and its implications.
To promote an ecosystem of academic research on Aadhaar, ISB, which has campuses in Hyderabad and Mohali, will engage with researchers and academic institutions from India and abroad. It will study the impact of Aadhar on benefit transfers, financial inclusion, healthcare schemes, public distribution systems and public policy.
The project’s $2million funding comes from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s ‘philanthrophic investment firm’ Omidyar Network for a period of two years.
The benefits of Aadhaar are under-researched and oft-debated even though the Indian government is trying to make it a part of welfare programmes to achieve efficiency and effectiveness. The private sector applications too have enabled new business models in India with the objective of inclusive growth and increased efficiency in benefit transfers.
Early research output and anecdotal evidence clearly point to need for more research on Aadhaar.
Professor Rajendra Srivastava, dean, ISB says he is confident this research will be path-breaking and translate into knowledge with immediate application for policy makers, educators, service providers, and entrepreneurs.
“An evidence-informed debate on the salient issues around digital identity, specifically Aadhaar, will go a long way in strengthening the efforts of the government, ” says Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, UIDAI.
“The scale of Aadhaar means that there is a pressing need to generate evidence on the costs, benefits and risks of the programme, including its impact on individual empowerment and government efficiency and effectiveness. Robust, empirical and independent research is vital to deliver better policy outcomes,” adds Roopa Kudva, partner and managing director, India at Omidyar Network