Now in its tenth year, India’s universal identity program - Aadhaar - is the subject of a new report exploring how individuals experience the system.
Noting that: “The residents’ view is under-represented in today’s discourse around Aadhaar,” Dalberg carried out the study based on findings from two national surveys of over 167,000 residents in India, as well as a series of interviews. The findings provide an insight into the performance of Aadhaar - what's working and what's not.
The key findings from the study indicate that Aadhaar is largely ubiquitous, covering 95% of adults. However, an estimated 28 million adults are not enrolled in the program, including a disproportionate number from vulnerable communities.
That said, the report suggests that Aadhaar has supported inclusion. For 8% of users, Aadhaar was their first ever ID, and almost half of users had utilized this identification to access services, like banking and social support. Indeed, 80% of users felt that Aadhaar had improved the delivery of services.
Despite these positives, the report also uncovered ways in which Aadhaar was not working as it should. One in five people who tried to update their Aadhaar were unsuccessful, and 4% of the identification cards currently have errors. Many of the program’s newer digital features are not currently being embraced, and only 39% of residents have the correct mobile phone number linked to their Aadhaar.
Problems with the program were found to have resulted in 0.8% of people being excluded from welfare services, and 0.5% of 6 to 14 year olds unable to enrol in school. Users also found that, in spite of the Supreme Court ruling to the contrary, Aadhaar was often de facto mandatory in order to access bank accounts, education and other key services.
While 72% of people agree that Aadhaar is convenient, almost half of those also worry about linking it to too many services. Trust in Aadhaar is high, at 92%, but a significant 8% of users are concerned about potential misuse.
The data gathered by Dalberg in this report provides a valuable insight into the impact of Aadhaar on the everyday lives of Indian residents.
The authors note: