Dalberg to host State of Aadhaar Initiative

We are excited to announce that Dalberg Advisors is hosting the State of Aadhaar initiative for 2019 and 2020. Sponsored by Omidyar Network, the initiative aims to increase the knowledge base around India’s digital ID, Aadhaar. 

Nearly ten years ago, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was formed with an ambitious vision of offering India’s residents digital ID and access to a wide range of services. Today, over 90% of the population is enrolled in Aadhaar. From its inception, the program has elicited high profile debate on everything from its constitutionality to its implementation. The polarised reactions to the 2018 Supreme Court judgement are a reflection of just how contentious the discourse remains.

What is sometimes lost in these arguments is an objective understanding of the lived experience of Aadhaar users, absent which, it is difficult to identify what is working and prioritize areas for improvement. The State of Aadhaar initiative aims to address this gap. We hope our efforts provide participants with data and insights that foster constructive conversations around the future of Aadhaar. 

The impact of Aadhaar is global: other countries are looking to India’s example as they determine whether and how best to implement their own digital ID programs; we hope the State of Aadhaar contributes to their understanding, as well. 

We would like to thank IDInsight – Buddy Shah, Ronald Abraham, Elizabeth S. Bennett and their team – who conceptualised State of Aadhaar and hosted it for the first two years. Their contributions, including a comprehensive overview of secondary sources and the largest household survey dedicated to Aadhaar, have achieved a step change in our collective understanding. 

Looking ahead, our ambition is to enable a nationwide conversation. We will remain focused on users and explore the benefits and challenges they experience. Do residents see Aadhaar as an ID that is available to everyone? To what extent does it impact their access to welfare schemes linked to Aadhaar? In addition, we will probe users’ perspectives on issues such as privacy as they relate to their interactions with Aadhaar.

Our research plan matches the scale of our ambition, expanding the breadth and the depth of the evidence base through a nationally representative study that combines quantitative and qualitative data. For the third edition of the State of Aadhaar report, we will combine two nationally representative surveys with human-centred design techniques. We will ask 1.7 lakh respondents of a national household panel survey a few critical questions about their experiences with Aadhaar. A more nuanced picture will emerge from a longer, in-depth survey of over 10,000 households across more than a dozen states that will enable us to draw state-level comparisons. We will complement this large data set with a qualitative research component that will utilize human-centred design methods to dig into important themes identified through the surveys, e.g., the economic and emotional impact of authentication failures on rural households. 

We will publish the findings from our research in a public report. We know that many readers research Aadhaar, and may benefit from the raw data.  We will therefore maintain the same spirit of transparency as IDInsight: we will provide access to the full questionnaire and anonymised survey data. In addition, we are instituting two external panels—an advisory panel and a technical panel—to include a wide range of perspectives and strengthen the rigour of our work. We invite you to use our work as a springboard for your own. 

You can find out more about IDInsight’s work from the past 2 years at the State of Aadhaar website ( We will update the site with more details on our research plans in late January 2019, and we expect to release the next report in November 2019. The website will be our main channel of public communication until we publish the report. In the meantime, we will engage a wide range of stakeholders in conversations about the State of Aadhaar.

We are honoured to take on this important piece of work and look forward to engaging with you in the coming years.

Dalberg is a global group working to build a more inclusive and sustainable world. Three Dalberg entities are involved in the State of Aadhaar initiative. Dalberg Advisors provides strategic advisory services, Dalberg Design engages people, communities and organizations to foster creative solutions, and Dalberg Research provides research and analysis that offers clients actionable solutions to their problems. The project will be led by Gaurav Gupta, Swetha Totapally, and Petra Sonderegger from Dalberg Advisors, Priti Rao from Dalberg Design, and Jasper Gosselt from Dalberg Research.

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