In its recent report ‘World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends
,’ the World Bank has hailed India’s Aadhaar digital ID and said the initiative is estimated to be saving the government about $1 billion (about Rs 6,700 crore) annually by curbing corruption and promoting inclusion, efficiency, and innovation. World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu told PTI:
“We estimate that this (Aadhaar digital ID) is saving approximately $1 billion a year by reducing corruption and leakage for the Indian government. It is a help in fiscal budgeting. It is a help in providing other useful services.”
Basu further said that Aadhaar digital identification system has covered close to one billion people and is on track to register its entire population.
Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist of the World Bank
The report said Indians are using Aadhaar “to open bank accounts, monitor attendance of civil servants, and identify recipients of government subsidies.” In other useful services including public health, the report said, simple SMS messages have proven effective in reminding people living with HIV to take their lifesaving drugs..
Aadhar ID, which has been pushed by Narendra Modi-led NDA government, is a 12-digit unique identity number given to the citizens.
It helps to collect the biometric and demographic data of residents and store them in a centralized database.
“India’s Aadhaar digital identification system has enabled many of the poor to access services more easily and making it possible for the government to deliver welfare services more easily,” said Basu. Aadhar would help the government to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in its welfare schemes, said the report.
Stating that 40 percent of the world’s population is connected by the internet, Basu warned that not having mobile phone becomes a new form of deprivation. He said:
“Just as having access to the internet is empowering, not having that access in today’s world when lots of other people have that access can lead to a new form of impoverishment.”
However, Basu also pointed out that if digital dividends have to be shared among all parts of society, countries also need to improve their business climate, invest in people’s education and health, and promote good governance.
“Digital technologies are transforming the worlds of business, work, and government,” said Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. The 350 plus page report that took two years in the making was prepared by a 15 member team led by co-directors, Deepak Mishra and Uwe Deichmann.