"You have a whole mass of people who are shut out of society; a lack of identity is a big source of exclusion. You're giving them a key to social services." - Nandan Nilekani
In 2009, Nandan Nilekani came on Comedy Centrals’ The Daily Show w/Jon Stewart. Nandan attempted to explain the large population of India but Stewart seemed to dumb down the conversation to the point where the questioning was weak and to where there was no real stake in the book that Nilekani was there to promote entitled, “Imagining India - other than the large size of his book.
In this book, Nllekani explains India’s development and attempts to provide solutions to the population problem by first addressing it as infrastructure that they can use. A very bold look that has a lot to offer him for the position he is currently in now, the chairman of the identification authority of India. Solving this problem seems to be something that he was destined to do since as CEO of Infosys he has been a leader for a large company of people and with his book, so in going forward on this project he is very much involved.
He explains toward the end of the book that India cannot build using the old technologies from before; they have to start with something new, which seems to explain the Aadhaar project. However, it is interesting to see how this will develop in the years ahead because there are potential maneuvers in the dark that suggests a specific kind of consolidation.
First biometric technology is heavily motivated by this new approach to solving the identification problem. Not that they weren’t already building them up, but a project of such immense proportions is a bit more of a reason to move forward and gather information as a result to solve other problems down the line.
All current identity information is linked to the Aadhaar number, and at the beginning, the project is already very ambitious with an estimated figure at around 18000 before any independent analysis was conducted. As the project has continued they are learning quickly that it has become very difficult to prepare for any of the issues that they considered in theory and are finding that they might be suffering to get all of India on board because they do not have the budget to complete it to their extent.
Being that India has embraced capitalism, what are they do to if they are short on funds. Will that be enough to end the program or will they start looking at companies that can pay for it who want to put their agenda into place?
It seems that despite all the fear mongering around the project that things are pretty safe for now, and there are no chances that the ‘fascist state’ that many were talking about is going to happen very soon. They seem to be going through in pockets but they are really going to have to figure out how to get to those rural parts and rely on neighbors to bring out those that are not likely to be informed, the information would have to spread fast and also compensate for those that refuse to volunteer. The situation would have be become very difficult for them to do anything before they get their aadhaar card.
Nandan Nilekani seems like he has his priorities straight if he wants to be a part of this solution, as the first chairman of this organization, he is faced with that challenge and will be the one at the helm making that difference.