Research

At DIRI, we are engaged in research in areas of digital identity, with a focus on Aadhaar. We extensively work on the relevance and application of digital identity in welfare programmes and financial inclusion among others. Current commissioned researches include:

Impact of Aadhaar enabled services on the performance of banking correspondence in India
Jefferson Kaduvinal Abraham, Padmanabhan Balasusbramanian and Prasanna Tantri

India has fared very poorly in terms of financial inclusion with nearly 65% of Indian adults not even having a savings bank account at the end of the year 2011, with 43% of such accounts remaining dormant. The Government of India and the the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), from time to time have undertaken a large number of initiatives aimed at achieving the goal of universal financial inclusion.

Lack of credible identification documents has been a key challenge in the path of full financial inclusion. Until recently a large fraction of the Indian population did not have a unique identity card and the existing surrogates lacked credibility. The Government of India launched the Aadhaar initiative, the worlds largest digital identity platform, in the year 2009 with a view to provide a unique identity number to all. The Aadhaar number serves as a proof of identity and address anywhere in India.
 
The introduction of Aadhaar has been used to study the impact of technology on financial inclusion, especially the impact of technology on an unconventional banking channel known as the Customer Service Point (CSP) or the Bank Mitra. CSP is a representative of the bank, typically located in an unbanked area, and tasked with the responsibility of providing basic banking services to citizens. The paper aims to study the impact from three standpoints: impact on users, impact on service providers like CSPs and impact on bank lending.
Pastoralists and Aadhaar. Case studies to understand Aadhaar use among Nomadic Pastoralists
Ashwini Chhatre

Aadhaar is an initiative of the Government of India to provide a unique identity number to all the citizens of India, however, we find that there are certain migratory communities like the nomadic pastoralist community, that stand a chance of being excluded from this effort. The pastoralists own large herds of animals and birds and are unable to meet their feed requirements through stall feeding. Hence they move over large areas, sometimes three or four states, depending on the seasonality and the presence of forage. A section of the migratory route maybe seen as a home base to which they return to for 4-5 months each year. All communities have areas that they are welcome and unwelcome in.
 
While Aadhaar lacks the capacity to alter ways in which host communities treat pastoralists, it is yet to be seen how Aadhaar will play a role in legitimizing their presence while on the move. The project attempts to understand the technological, social and economic dimensions to Aadhaar use by such highly mobile communities as well as ways by which Aadhaar has ended up excluding these communities from services they formerly had relatively easy access to. The research will be housed within ISB and will be undertaken in partnership with Sahjeevan’s Centre for Pastoralism (Gujarat).
Quantifying the Impact of Digital Transformation of the Public Distribution System (PDS) in India on Beneficiaries and Fair Price Shops (FPS)
Sarang Deo and Sripad Devalkar

Following a central government mandate, many state governments have undertaken a digital transformation of the public distribution system (PDS) to plug leakages and increase transparency. These efforts include digitization of ration cards and their linkage to Aadhaar cards to remove duplicate and bogus cards, computerization of the warehouses to track the movement of food grains and installation of point-of-sales (POS) devices in the FPSs to monitor the sale of food grains to correctly identified beneficiaries. Some state governments have claimed savings of the order of 200 million INR due to these initiatives by considering the reduction in number of beneficiaries or active ration cards and the corresponding reduction in volume of food grains distributed. However, there is very little rigorous evidence on the extent to which the performance of the PDS has improved because of these initiatives.

This project attempts to undertake an impact evaluation of the digital transformation of the PDS and provide quantitative answers to how digital transformation has affected leakage, ability of beneficiaries to get their full entitlement of food grains and inventory of food grains in the PDS supply chain.