Aadhaar: India's 'Unique Identification' System

Posted: 24 Mar 2012

See all articles by Tarun Khanna

Tarun Khanna

Harvard University - Strategy Unit

Anjali Raina

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Date Written: February 16, 2012


The case focuses on the execution challenges facing Nandan Nilekani, the Chairman, and Ram Sevak Sharma, Director General and Mission Director of the Unique Identification Authority of India. India had no nationally accepted way to prove identity and hence 42% of the population at the base of the pyramid had to resort to bribery to access entitlements, while a web of fake or multiple identities facilitated criminal diversion of government subsidies. UIDAI was tasked to deliver a unique identification number to every Indian resident. This involved the issue of a total of 1.2 billion unique IDs by 2020 and an interim goal of 600 million UIDs by 2014 - the largest data management program in the world. The case deals with the challenge of implementing a towering vision, of executing on an epic technology project, and of changing minds on an unprecedented scale. It examines the forces that both facilitate and derail change. It also examines the leadership style and motivation of Nilekani, and the transition in skills required to move from building a global organization to working within the Indian bureaucracy.

Suggested Citation

Khanna, Tarun and Raina, Anjali, Aadhaar: India's 'Unique Identification' System (February 16, 2012). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Case No. 712-412, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2027458

Tarun Khanna (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Strategy Unit ( email )

Harvard Business School
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6038 (Phone)
617-495-0355 (Fax)

Anjali Raina

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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