Unique In deed

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Updated: April 02, 2015 1:23 AM

While a World Bank study warns that paper-based ID regimes don’t serve the needy, Aadhaar could do this.

Identification regimes, especially in the context of eligibility for government services and benefits, remain fraught with gaps that are likely to increase exclusion from such benefits, a recent World Bank paper has warned. The paper claims identification systems often don’t serve the bottom 40% (the marginalised sections), given these rely on authentication processes that call for registered and documented identification. However, even as it states that the evidence from global experience remains inconclusive on whether identification systems benefit the development efforts, it notes that the use of biometrics-enabled smartcard for payments of MGNREGS wages and pensions in a pilot study in Andhra Pradesh (as per research from the University of California, San Diego, and Dartmouth College) delivered the benefits faster and in a more targetted manner without impacting programme access and with markedly lesser corruption involved.

The points at how Aadhaar could bridge the gaps the study has highlighted. The findings do bolster the Supreme Court’s stand that Aadhaar can’t be made mandatory for government benefits. However, with more than 80.4 crore individuals—nearly three-fourths of the population— registered so far, universal coverage is not far. This, along with the completion of the socio-economic and caste census, will take care of the registration hurdles. As for the documentation hurdles, biometrics eliminates the need for a paper document as authentication is carried out by matching an individual’s morphological traits with those stored in a central database.

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