Why we conducted this study
The residents’ view is under-represented in today’s discourse around Aadhaar, the world’s largest digital ID system. The State of Aadhaar initiative aims to understand what aspects of Aadhaar are working and what aspects are not for those who interact with Aadhaar in their everyday lives. This 2019 edition provides a pan-India view of residents’ experience by drawing on the largest dataset on the use of Aadhaar to date. Our ambition is that this study will inform data-driven discourse and decision-making.
What we studied
In this study, we sought to understand people’s journey with Aadhaar.
People begin their journey by enrolling in Aadhaar. They may later need to update demographic, biometric, or contact information. Over time, they may use Aadhaar to access a range of services, provided by both the government and the private sector. These experiences inform their overall sentiment towards and trust of Aadhaar. Along the journey, they may face inclusion or exclusion; they may experience benefits or challenges; and their daily activities may become easier or more difficult.
Our key research questions covered
Aadhaar enrolment How many are enrolled?
Who is not yet enrolled—and why?
Aadhaar updates How many updates are needed, i.e., how common are errors?
Do errors get corrected? What is the update experience?
And how easy or difficult is the process?
Using Aadhaar to access services How widely and how frequently is Aadhaar used?
What is the experience of using Aadhaar for key services (PDS,
MGNREGS, social pensions, SIM cards, and bank accounts)?
If residents face problems with Aadhaar, how does that affect their access to services?
Across the journey What benefits and challenges do people see?
How satisfied are people with Aadhaar overall?
Do they trust the system?
How we conducted the study
This study is based on findings from two national surveys on Aadhaar that gathered the experiences and perspectives of over 167,000 residents in India—representing the largest primary dataset on the use of digital ID anywhere in the world. We conducted a 10-minute pulse survey with 147,868 respondents across 28 states and union territories and a 45-minute in-depth survey with 19,209 respondents across 16 states and 1 union territory. After the survey analysis, we conducted ethnographic interviews using Human Centred Design (HCD) research with 103 people in 4 states.
From May to August 2019, we conducted a 10-minute pulse survey with 147,868 respondents across 28 states and union territories, in partnership with the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). These questions captured critical metrics on the adoption of Aadhaar and people’s experience around it.
To understand the nuances of people's experiences, we also conducted a 45-minute in-depth survey with 19,209 respondents across 16 states and 1 union territory. It included a wide range of questions on enrolment, updates and use of Aadhaar for services—particularly three welfare services (PDS, MGNREGS and social pensions) and two non-welfare services (telecom and banking). Considering the Supreme Court ruling of 2018, the survey also included some questions on schools to test on-ground implementation of the court’s orders. Dalberg created the research design and questionnaire. Kantar Public conducted the survey between July and September 2019, with close day-to-day oversight from Dalberg. The raw data were exclusively accessed and analysed by Dalberg.
Human centred design research
After the survey analysis, we conducted ethnographic interviews using Human Centred Design (HCD) research with 103 people in 4 states. This helped us probe deeper into the survey findings and uncover the why and how behind some of the most interesting trends displayed by the data. These efforts also uncovered further areas for research.
All data collection took place from May to September 2019. In preparation for the study, we received inputs from over 30 experts and from residents in 7 locations across Maharashtra and Jharkhand. The survey output is a public dataset that allows anyone to conduct their own analyses - adding nuance to the findings reported here or creating their own.
Limitations of the study
Given the limitations of survey methodologies, we focused only on questions that residents were able to answer credibly through a survey format. There are many valuable questions, related to the experience of both people and providers that our study cannot answer—among them, the following:
To what extent can perceived benefits and challenges be attributed to Aadhaar?
What are residents’ worries about privacy and surveillance with respect to Aadhaar?
To what extent has Aadhaar benefitted government?
To what extent has Aadhaar benefitted private-sector actors?