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Nurturing the Aadhaar ecosystem

By Arun Sundararajan, Associate Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences, NEC Faculty Fellow & Doctoral Coordinator, IOMS-Information Systems and Ravi Bapna

Arun Sundararajan on Steve Jobs

Very soon, India will have the world’s largest ever biometrics database, a fertile foundation for creating the myriad applications that will unleash the value of Aadhaar.

The first year of its rollout has been a triumph for the UID Authority of India (UIDAI) and its administrators. Over 100 million (10 crore) residents have been enrolled, 63 million people have received their identity numbers, and enrolments have hit their target rate of one million/day. This makes Aadhaar one of the most rapidly adopted technologies in history, and the fastest government technology rollout anywhere.

Very soon, India will have the world’s largest ever biometrics database, a fertile foundation for creating the myriad applications that will unleash the value of Aadhaar. While the initial emphasis has, rightly, been on enrolling residents, it is now imperative to capitalize on this success by actively nurturing the applications and solutions that will deliver value to the early adopters and fuel the next wave of enrolment. These complementary forces could be derailed by prevailing policy confusion and uncertainty, which is why clarity, commitment and direction from the very top are essential at this critical juncture.

Embracing the promise of eventual universality, numerous public and private sector organizations are making substantial investments into Aadhaar—readying an impressive range of products and services, from payment systems to public distribution. The evolution of this vibrant ecosystem has been energized by complementary players across the spectrum: from large private companies such as Visa and ICICI, through public sector entities such as the State Bank of India​ (SBI) and the Andhra LPG authority, to the numerous entrepreneurial moths drawn to Aadhaar’s flame. Hundreds of developers, start-ups and government officials gathered at a UID-centric Nasscom event in June; an Aadhaar-themed business plan contest hosted by the Indian School of Business’ Identity Initiative received 40 submissions last month. The leadership at the UIDAI should be proud of this juggernaut of innovation that it has catalyzed.

Read full article as published on livemint.com.