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India: Welfare Needs Aadhaar Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle? | Lecture by Reetika Khera

20 October

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Video recording of a lecture delivered by Prof Reetika Khera at Institute for South Asia Studies UC Berkeley on October 17 2017. Aadhaar, India’s ambitious biometric ID project, was portrayed as one that would enhance India’s welfare efforts by promoting inclusion and reducing corruption. From being a voluntary ID, it has become de facto compulsory for most welfare programmes such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and the Public Distribution System (PDS). Despite early warnings of its limited role in its stated objected, successive government’s have ramped up its use. Using a variety of data sources, this paper reviews the impact of Aadhaar on welfare programmes. Far from being inclusive and reducing corruption, Aadhaar is becoming a tool of exclusion, with little evidence of an impact on corruption in NREGA, PDS and pensions, etc.