Impact of Aadhaar in Welfare Programmes

22 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017

See all articles by Reetika Khera

Reetika Khera

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

Date Written: September 29, 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. The government's estimates of savings are examined, but these do not stand scrutiny. What passes as 'savings' is often the result of denial of legal entitlements for lack of Aadhaar. In that sense, the Aadhaar project undermines the right to life.

Keywords: Digital Identity, Corruption, Welfare

JEL Classification: I38

Suggested Citation

Khera, Reetika, Impact of Aadhaar in Welfare Programmes (September 29, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Reetika Khera (Contact Author)

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi ( email )

Hauz Khas
Shaheed Jeet Singh Marg, Hauz Khas
New Delhi, DE 110016

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