Sunday, September 04, 2011 on Aadhaar

Massive Biometric Project Gives Millions of Indians an ID via Ed Yong. Some of the benefits:
"One of his [Nandan Nilekani's] first major coups was persuading India’s central bank to declare the Aadhaar number adequate identification to issue no-frills accounts. Bringing biometrically verified banking to the poor could lead to enormous savings in government benefit programs—for both the recipients and the state. Today, a pensioner in a village like Gagenahalli has to take a bus to the nearest town to collect his monthly payment in cash. That’s time and money lost for him. Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of the government’s $250 billion in subsidies and other spending on the poor will be siphoned off by scammers over the next five years, according to investment group CLSA. Both problems could largely be solved if instead the funds were sent straight to bank accounts held by biometrically verified recipients. “It’s like having 1.2 billion pipes through which you can send the benefits directly,” Sharma says. Connecting the poor to banks could also enable some of them to get loans to start businesses or pay for their children’s education."
See also the NYTimes article Scanning 2.4 Billion Eyes, India Tries to Connect Poor to Growth

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