Debates around Aadhaar have tended to be polarised—yet national household data has been thin on what Aadhaar has done (and not done) for the ordinary residents of India.
In what ways has Aadhaar empowered or excluded them? To what extent do they trust and use the identification system? In which aspects is it serving them well or poorly—or not at all? Our study set out to answer some of these questions with data.
The primary purpose of State of Aadhaar 2019 was to give a broad cross-section of Indian residents a voice in the national discourse on Aadhaar.
This study distils insights drawn from two national household surveys on Aadhaar, conducted between May and September 2019, and subsequent human-centred design research. Capturing the experiences and perspectives of over 167,000 residents, together these surveys represent the largest primary dataset on the use of Aadhaar and, more broadly, digital ID anywhere in the world. We believe the success of Aadhaar will ultimately depend on how well the program can learn from the experiences and concerns of those who use (or are unable to use) Aadhaar across a wide range of circumstances in their daily lives. Taking residents’ perspectives into account can help better design and implement Aadhaar.
Our aim was also to help identify which aspects of Aadhaar are working and are not working, to what extent and for whom.
Residents are best positioned to provide valuable feedback about what practical adjustments need to be made to improve on-the-ground implementation based on their lived experience. We do not attempt to adjudicate the ultimate merits of Aadhaar as a project; the question of whether Aadhaar is good or bad for the people of India hinges on factors, analyses and value judgments beyond the scope of this study. We hope these findings will inform the efforts of policymakers to further the objective of a universal identity across India and allow Aadhaar to live up to its stated aspirations.
Our ambition, too, was for this report to anchor data-driven discourse on Aadhaar.
We hope our efforts build a shared understanding of the facts. The State of Aadhaar 2019 report highlights the most significant findings and themes across the study as well as an overview of the methodology and its limitations. Following the publication of this report at the end of 2019, we intend to publish a three-part series to dig deeper into different aspects of people’s experience, such as enrolments and updates, service-level experience, or people’s sentiment and awareness.
Our ultimate aspiration is that policymakers, researchers, service providers, and others use the data and findings from the study to inform decisions about the future of Aadhaar and, more broadly, digital identity.
We hope that researchers find this extensive collection of data useful in their own research efforts, that policymakers and implementers will walk away with a sense of what is working and where they can make further improvements to Aadhaar, and that leaders elsewhere in the world who are embarking on or are considering similar digital ID initiatives will learn from India's experience.
Dalberg is a world-leading social impact advisory group that brings together - strategy consulting, design thinking, big data analytics, and research to address complex social and environmental challenges. We work collaboratively with communities, institutions, governments, and corporations to develop solutions that create impact at scale.
Omidyar Network India invests in bold entrepreneurs who help create a meaningful life for every Indian, especially the hundreds of millions of Indians in low-income and lower-middle-income populations, ranging from the poorest among us to the existing middle class. To drive empowerment and social impact at scale, we work with entrepreneurs in the private, non-profit and public sectors who are tackling India’s hardest and most chronic problems. We make equity investments in early-stage enterprises and provide grants to non-profits in the areas of Digital Identity, Education, Emerging Tech, Financial Inclusion, Governance & Citizen Engagement, and Property Rights. Omidyar Network India is part of The Omidyar Group, a diverse collection of companies, organizations and initiatives, supported by philanthropists Pam and Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay.