An example of an Aadhaar card

A research paper published by the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT) concludes that while Aadhaar has brought in biometric authentication on a large scale, “the benefits to the consumers have been mixed, with not much benefit to those in the last mile.”

While analysing biometric authentication data from Andhra Pradesh as a case study, the research done by S Ananth, an adjunct faculty at IDRBT, the study says the data pertaining to a few months in the fist half of the present calender year indicates that statistics may be masking larger problems related to access of rations as far as delivery of government benefits to the last mile is concerned.

research done by Dr. S Ananth

Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology, Established by the RBI

Read the paper

Things to note from this study

Failure rates halved (50%) but authentications dropped by 61%!

“Though the numbers indicate a halving of failures from a high of 7.14 per cent in January 2017 to 3.56 per cent in June 2017, this is accompanied by a commensurate 61 per cent fall in the number of authentications in June compared with January,”

Deprivation of the vulnerable

Failure rates of Aadhaar were the highest in districts with large numbers of migrant workers and villages. These are some of the poorest populations and highly dependent on government rations, which are their right as citizens, in order to survive.

Biometrics can’t be verified by the person they allegedly belong to

There are quality concerns as well, as the quality of biometrics captured is not known as anecdotal evidence seem to indicate that the inability to capture biometrics in three attempts have led to the persons employed in the enrolment centre forcing the system to capture biometrics irrespective of quality, by manual ‘override’.

What the study concludes

While the government claims it has already saved ₹14,672 crore by using Aadhaar, through various Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) programmes, it has actually incurred a loss of ₹97 crore till date, the study says, citing a Canadian agency report.

There is a need for caution in the manner in which Aadhaar is used by the government, especially as more programmes and economic activities are linked to it. “Only time will tell if the benefits outweigh the costs or vice versa,”

Vidyut is a commentator on socio-political issues with a keen understanding of tech and policy. She has been observing and commenting on Aadhaar since 2010 from a perspective of human rights, democracy and technological robustness.

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