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A complex tale of idealism, negotiation and realpolitik records how a revolution was engineered Aadhaar was born in July 2009, yoking modern technology and management expertise to political will. The biometric-based unique identification system, built by tech czar Nandan Nilekani and his team of innovators, was designed to enable subsidies and social spends reach their true A complex tale of idealism, negotiation and realpolitik records how a revolution was engineered Aadhaar was born in July 2009, yoking modern technology and management expertise to political will. The biometric-based unique identification system, built by tech czar Nandan Nilekani and his team of innovators, was designed to enable subsidies and social spends reach their true destination, plug institutional corruption and save trillions of tax-rupees. In July 2017, Aadhaar is 1.15 billion identities and growing. In Aadhaar: A Biometric History of India’s 12-digit Revolution, senior journalist Shankkar Aiyar traces the history of this ambitious, controversial undertaking. He speaks with President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram, Yashwant Sinha, Rahul Gandhi and others to document how politicians with diametrically opposed ideologies were equally determined to propel Aadhaar. Aiyar maps how Aadhaar’s application expanded beyond its original intent. He researches its ups, downs and turnarounds; discusses the concerns of activists and bureaucrats on potential misuse of the database for state surveillance; raises the urgent need for a data-protection and privacy law and spells out the solutions. An unusual contemporary dramatization, this book is a breathless ride through recent changes in India’s political and economic landscape.


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A complex tale of idealism, negotiation and realpolitik records how a revolution was engineered Aadhaar was born in July 2009, yoking modern technology and management expertise to political will. The biometric-based unique identification system, built by tech czar Nandan Nilekani and his team of innovators, was designed to enable subsidies and social spends reach their true A complex tale of idealism, negotiation and realpolitik records how a revolution was engineered Aadhaar was born in July 2009, yoking modern technology and management expertise to political will. The biometric-based unique identification system, built by tech czar Nandan Nilekani and his team of innovators, was designed to enable subsidies and social spends reach their true destination, plug institutional corruption and save trillions of tax-rupees. In July 2017, Aadhaar is 1.15 billion identities and growing. In Aadhaar: A Biometric History of India’s 12-digit Revolution, senior journalist Shankkar Aiyar traces the history of this ambitious, controversial undertaking. He speaks with President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram, Yashwant Sinha, Rahul Gandhi and others to document how politicians with diametrically opposed ideologies were equally determined to propel Aadhaar. Aiyar maps how Aadhaar’s application expanded beyond its original intent. He researches its ups, downs and turnarounds; discusses the concerns of activists and bureaucrats on potential misuse of the database for state surveillance; raises the urgent need for a data-protection and privacy law and spells out the solutions. An unusual contemporary dramatization, this book is a breathless ride through recent changes in India’s political and economic landscape.

30 review for Aadhaar: A Biometric History of India's 12-Digit Revolution

  1. 4 out of 5

    Vinayak Hegde

    The book gives a good overview of how Aadhaar came into existence, exploring the economic, political and social contours of the birth of UID. The author delves into the history of Aadhaar and the machinations behind the scenes which made it possible to survive two successive governments with widely varying ideologies. It also does give a good overview of the different personalities who made it happen. The author gives a good historical timeline of the UID project from it's conception leading upt The book gives a good overview of how Aadhaar came into existence, exploring the economic, political and social contours of the birth of UID. The author delves into the history of Aadhaar and the machinations behind the scenes which made it possible to survive two successive governments with widely varying ideologies. It also does give a good overview of the different personalities who made it happen. The author gives a good historical timeline of the UID project from it's conception leading upto it's near ubiquity. The book is well-researched and the treatment is mostly unbiased though I would have liked it to explore more about the technological failings of Aadhaar. In the epilogue though it does go into much detail about how Aadhaar can be used for surveillance, the information/power asymmetry between the data gatherers (The state and private enterprises) and private individuals and the lack of proper redressal avenue in case of failures. This is turn leads more to exclusion compared with the stated intent of Aadhaar (to improve targeting of benefits and inclusion).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nitin Jagtap

    Couldn't find a better book to read at a time when Aadhaar and the controversies surrounding it have become a daily affair. Right from data privacy to where Aadhaar can be used are debated and legislations framed on this basis. Coming to the book it a well researched book by the author and covers the entire period from when the project was conceptualised and the key players and decision makers involved in making this project stand on its feet as of today. The Congress govt under MMS had desperate Couldn't find a better book to read at a time when Aadhaar and the controversies surrounding it have become a daily affair. Right from data privacy to where Aadhaar can be used are debated and legislations framed on this basis. Coming to the book it a well researched book by the author and covers the entire period from when the project was conceptualised and the key players and decision makers involved in making this project stand on its feet as of today. The Congress govt under MMS had desperately wanted Aadhaar to succeed at a time when the economy wasn't doing well and cases of corruption against the government had reached an all time high, the mood was of gloom and the state of the Government finances were in a extremely bad shape and the govt had marketed Aadhar as one of the ways to reduce corruption and ensure all benefits reach the intended beneficiaries. The opposition on the other hand from day one weren't too convinced about this project as there were numerous attempts in the past to create a national registry but no one of them took full shape. In spite of numerous objections the Congress govt implemented Aadhar under the UIDAI and stated the national roll out in 2010. Once the new government was in place in 2014, the same government that had opposed Aadhar had to now look at things more pragmatically and after consultation with various stake holders including the man behind it Nandan Nilekani the NDA gave Aadhar legal backing with a statutory status and ever since have backed this project. Points to learn from this book is the kind of parliamentary procedures involved in passing and framing laws, the scale of this huge project and the no of use cases it could handle, the importance of getting the right talent be it from the private sector or within the government itself is critical in deciding the success or failure of a project. A worthwhile read of you want to know about one of the biggest biometric citizen identification projects in the world which will be case study in the years to come.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aditya Kulkarni

    Ever since it was introduced, Aadhaar has been a widely debated topic in India. This book by Shankkar Aiyar is excellent in tracing the history of Aadhaar ever since it was first conceptualized by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, launched by the Manmohan Singh government, and finally taken forward by the current Modi government. The book covers the evolution of India's 12-Digit Revolution in a superb manner, complete with all the necessary dates and information about the personnel involved. T Ever since it was introduced, Aadhaar has been a widely debated topic in India. This book by Shankkar Aiyar is excellent in tracing the history of Aadhaar ever since it was first conceptualized by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, launched by the Manmohan Singh government, and finally taken forward by the current Modi government. The book covers the evolution of India's 12-Digit Revolution in a superb manner, complete with all the necessary dates and information about the personnel involved. The book highlights all the challenges Aadhaar has faced till now and finally ends by listing out the concerns regarding the project. This book is highly recommended for those who want to know more about Aadhaar, all the details regarding it. Its origin, implementation, and applications supported by it. A very informative book that must be read in my opinion.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hrishikesh

    Although this book provides a deep perspective of the policy background to Aadhar, this book is by no means a theoretical paper. Starting with the inception of the idea of Aadhar, and going right up to the middle of the current year, Shankkar Aiyar manages to tell a fascinating story that collates a rich combination of legality, public policy, politics, and anecdotes. What I personally found to be most fascinating was the inside story of how the Nandan Nilekani-led team, made up of private & pub Although this book provides a deep perspective of the policy background to Aadhar, this book is by no means a theoretical paper. Starting with the inception of the idea of Aadhar, and going right up to the middle of the current year, Shankkar Aiyar manages to tell a fascinating story that collates a rich combination of legality, public policy, politics, and anecdotes. What I personally found to be most fascinating was the inside story of how the Nandan Nilekani-led team, made up of private & public sector experts - built up a new ecosystem within the government. The fact that this book is imminently readable is the icing on top. Recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Abhijeet Jain

    A well researched, well written book. I never knew what it took to create AADHAAR system! I used to take it as just another government project. The way people from government & private sector came forward to make AADHAR happen at the risk of losing job security , is phenomenal ! This gives me hope that the India we all dream of, it's just a fantasy. A well researched, well written book. I never knew what it took to create AADHAAR system! I used to take it as just another government project. The way people from government & private sector came forward to make AADHAR happen at the risk of losing job security , is phenomenal ! This gives me hope that the India we all dream of, it's just a fantasy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Aashish

    Aadhar is a unique global project providing biometric identity to every resident of India. Mired in controversy since its inception, the project has still managed to scale in an unparalleled way. The platform now has more than 1.1 billion enrollments, making it nothing like any other technology platform anywhere in the world. This has been achieved only in the last eight years or so across two different governments. Fit for use solution approach, specificity of purpose, and creating politically r Aadhar is a unique global project providing biometric identity to every resident of India. Mired in controversy since its inception, the project has still managed to scale in an unparalleled way. The platform now has more than 1.1 billion enrollments, making it nothing like any other technology platform anywhere in the world. This has been achieved only in the last eight years or so across two different governments. Fit for use solution approach, specificity of purpose, and creating politically relevant uses cases has kept the platform alive and kicking. Jotting down this contemporary history is always difficult, with all key actors very much around and active in public life. The author however has captured their thoughts, challenges, and emotions and presented them in a transparent way, making this book a fascinating read. Documenting events which happen in own lifetime can be coloured by a myriad of -isms. This book however keeps at the subject, with no tangents, and no frills. The author presents an as-is account of what happened, addressing the revolution rather than the after-effects or commentary on desirability. At the end, three men stand out as the architects of the most significant government program in Independent India - Pranab Mukherjee for his executive sponsorship, Nandan Nilekani for his leadership, and Narendra Modi for his patronage. A must read account of lessons in Indian policy-making and using political capital at the right time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Indians Read

    Original review posted here https://www.reddit.com/r/IndiansRead/... A book that captures the journey of Aadhar, a highly debated project that was opposed by both INC and BJP at different points of time. This book gives a good insight into problems any policy has to face in its implementation- whether legal, political, legislative, financial, or technical. This is the story of a project backed by the government if works with "a start-up mentality" could do wonders. This is the story of how individu Original review posted here https://www.reddit.com/r/IndiansRead/... A book that captures the journey of Aadhar, a highly debated project that was opposed by both INC and BJP at different points of time. This book gives a good insight into problems any policy has to face in its implementation- whether legal, political, legislative, financial, or technical. This is the story of a project backed by the government if works with "a start-up mentality" could do wonders. This is the story of how individuals differed from the central leadership (Modi introduced the KYR Plus scheme in Gujarat while BJP was opposing it in center, only 3 out of 20 INC members agreed with MMS in a parliamentary committee.) This is the story of a legal battle between the privacy of individuals and the welfare of society as a whole. This is the story of how the poor failed to get Aadhar, while Aadhar Card was issued to Hanuman ( Father's Name: PAWAN) and dogs and trees of the rich. In the author's own word : "India's political economy is replete with tales of how things did not happen. The lament is preceded by the ubiquitous 'if only', about how solutions were thought of but the ideas did not translate into action." This book is the story of how UID is a reality today. This is the story of Aam Admi ka Adhikar, a must-read for everyone.

  8. 4 out of 5

    A Man Called Ove

    2.5/5 Not as well-written as his earlier book "Accidental India". A bit dry, written in textbook style with more information than insights. 2.5/5 Not as well-written as his earlier book "Accidental India". A bit dry, written in textbook style with more information than insights.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mohit

    You think, looking at the title that there would be a lot of analysis and substance in this book. But sadly it's more of a narration of several newspaper articles stitched together. You think, looking at the title that there would be a lot of analysis and substance in this book. But sadly it's more of a narration of several newspaper articles stitched together.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Srinivas Alamuru

    Shankkar Aiyar captures in great detail the rollercoaster journey of Aadhaar, the 12 digit unique identification number based on biometric data from the time Nandan Nilakeni joins as Chairperson of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on 25 June 2009 to June 2017 by which time almost 1.15 billion persons are enrolled. Undoubtedly, Aadhaar’s journey was not easy with a coalition government at the helm, a host of PILs in the courts and opposition by activists including some members of Shankkar Aiyar captures in great detail the rollercoaster journey of Aadhaar, the 12 digit unique identification number based on biometric data from the time Nandan Nilakeni joins as Chairperson of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on 25 June 2009 to June 2017 by which time almost 1.15 billion persons are enrolled. Undoubtedly, Aadhaar’s journey was not easy with a coalition government at the helm, a host of PILs in the courts and opposition by activists including some members of influential National Advisory Council headed by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. Luckily for Aadhaar and Nilakeni there were some strong champions (such as Pranab Mukerjee) who stood steadfastly by their side. When the nation had all but given up on future of Aadhaar when NDA government took over in May 2014, Mr Modi became its unlikely champion and the rest as they say is history. Aiyar’s focus is entirely on the political economy, behind the scenes manoeuvrings and controversies surrounding implementation of Aadhaar to the exclusion of substantive issues, such as, some sense of challenges in designing the software for deduplication which would involve at one billion enrolments a stupendous 700 million billion biometric comparisons; the rationale (the case for Aadhaar); ever changing landscape of objectives of Aadhaar; impact (both positive and negative); concerns about privacy and so on. A few of the issues, particularly privacy concerns are dealt with in the Epilogue. Aiyar’s account, highly readable, is a journalistic chronicling of Aadhaar’s history as the title of the book says. To that extent, people looking for answers to questions that vex them or those looking to make sense of different points of view on the issue would be a tad disappointed (as I was). Aadhaar is the first time a person is uniquely identified, meaning, one person can have only one Aadhaar number. This is not the case with other documents - be it driving licence, election photo identity card, ration card, passport and PAN card. Firstly, these are not primarily intended to establish identity because attached with them are also the related privileges / uses (permission to drive motor vehicle, travel overseas, vote in an election, receive subsidized food grains and so on). One can easily have multiple such documents in one’s name because a) there is no single database of given document (say PAN card) that weeds out duplicates; b) even if there is a single database, unless the identifier is unique, it is no use; in most cases name and father’s name are key identifiers, but the problem is names can be spelt in many ways and one could have multiple identities by merely spelling the name differently (also, there is nothing that stops one from having a document issued under a false name); and c) the process of issuing these documents is riddled with corruption; anyone visiting RTO can tell you how easy it is to get a DL issued by going through the touts. One can have multiple PAN cards and perhaps one or two in false names as well. Aadhaar, thus, does fulfil an important need for a unique identifying system, because a duplicate is simply not possible. However, for establishing identity Aadhaar depends upon the very same documents that are considered unreliable viz. Passport, Ration card, PAN card, bank ATM card, Driving license, Voter ID, etc. The only saving grace is that there are no multiple identities possible – right or wrong there is only one unique identity. Because of this dependence on some documentary proof of one’s identity it is possible, for instance, for a foreign national to obtain an Aadhaar number as happened in Bangalore where two Pakistanis were issued Aadhaar numbers. It is technically possible for an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh to obtain an Aadhaar number under an assumed name and start life afresh as in the case of a witness protection programme. But these would be so miniscule that they could be ignored. The idea of having a unique identity is obviously not an end itself. So, we get into the objectives of Aadhaar – how and with what end in view do we wish to use it? Firstly, Aadhaar merely establishes one’s identity. It establishes my claim to be Srinivas Alamuru by matching my biometrics with those stored in the central database. Beyond that UIDAI does not do anything. One must be also clear about what it does not do. It does not confer any benefits by itself. Each benefit programme must have its own due diligence process to establish the entitlement. For instance, entitlement to subsidized food is based on income criterion. Thus, the entitlement has to be established by a different process. So a ration card must be obtained by following an independent process that establishes credentials other than identity. If a ration card is issued based on Aadhaar card that would be its perverse use. Not only benefit payments such as food subsidy, scholarships, social security pensions, etc. but also routine cash disbursement of wages faced huge leakages on account of bogus claims. Even now, one reads about a large number of fraudulent payments to non-existent daily wagers (sweepers) by municipal corporations. The need to plug leakages in subsidy payments was thus the initial and overriding objective with which Aadhaar was started. While there is some anecdotal evidence as well as studies to suggest that a lot of bogus claims have been weeded out because of linking Aadhaar to such payments, there is also evidence to show that some people might have been subject to harassment and denial of benefits for no fault of their due to inadequate infrastructure and poor preparedness on part of the administration. There was undue hurry in extending Aadhaar to benefit payments without first fixing the infrastructure issues or at least providing a safety net against exclusions and some mechanism to redress grievances in case of harassment. Aadhaar was simultaneously extended to several other cases so much so that in some places the crematoriums were seeking Aadhaar number for allowing cremation of the dead! This is what queered the pitch. Everyone was jumping on to the Aadhaar bandwagon with no good reason. Linking bank accounts and PAN cards with Aadhaar or citing Aadhaar number on sale of property was necessary to plug the leakages in taxation system. But a lot of others in private sector found it easy to piggy back on Aadhaar for KYC requirements. RBI insisting on Aadhaar to be linked for e-wallets which one used to make small payments was also unnecessary. The use of Aadhaar should have been spaced out and regulated with some guidelines as to who and when Aadhaar can be used / insisted. Aadhaar has brought a lot of order in benefit payments and plugged loopholes in financial transactions. This does hurt a lot of people who benefited under the earlier regime. Indiscriminate extension of Aadhaar to every and all cases has worked against it. The issue of privacy is a smoke screen to abort Aadhaar. It is not to say that privacy issues are not real and important. But privacy issues go far beyond Aadhaar. Smart phones and social media are far more potent weapons for surveillance and manipulation. As Aiyar points out 'Fact is, the UIDAI system is a passive identification platform and can only be used for authentication...In a sense, the UIDAI platform is a one-way valve. Surveillance requires connecting small dots to get the big picture. This means that all the places where the Aadhaar number is seeded would have to be brought under one data-mining exercise for extraction of hidden predictive information... Realistically, therefore, using Aadhaar would be an arduous way to snoop when more convenient options exist.' Follow me on my blog http://booksmoviestravel.wordpress.com/

  11. 5 out of 5

    Raghav Tanaji

    It is a proof, that good ideas will see the light in spite of difference between political ideologies. The uncertainties, debacles, questions, intense criticism are only to make the idea more sharp and effective. Aadhaar is the Proof of resilience of the govt, people who want better governance. Still lot needs to done, periodic review, authenticity, security, execution have to be made seamless for benefits to be truly democratized. Book covers various spectrum's of Idea 1. What is Identity? 2. How It is a proof, that good ideas will see the light in spite of difference between political ideologies. The uncertainties, debacles, questions, intense criticism are only to make the idea more sharp and effective. Aadhaar is the Proof of resilience of the govt, people who want better governance. Still lot needs to done, periodic review, authenticity, security, execution have to be made seamless for benefits to be truly democratized. Book covers various spectrum's of Idea 1. What is Identity? 2. How can technology be used to provide Effective Identity? 3. How can govt plan to use this identity to target, deliver benefits to deserving, financial inclusion 4. What the faults, glitches, process of exclusions in the System? 5. How the political dram is played around it? 6. Privacy vs Performance - Effectiveness vs Equality 7. People who contributed for Aadhaar System are refereed prolifically. Shankkar Aiyar, does a very good job at systematic presentation of data, the reference are very valuable source. This book will be updated regularly with more uptodate progress What lacks in the Book? 1. There is very meger comparision with existing aadhar kind of systems [ SSN - US, British Unique Id] . 2. There evolution could give us clues how to will Aadhaar could evolve.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shivani Rohella

    Aadhar: A Biometric History of India's 12-Digit Revolution is a well researched chronicle of how India built the world's largest identity platform in a short time. Shankkar Aiyar, the author has made commendable efforts to compile various facts, he interviewed several people and traced the history of events which lead to the birth of Aadhar Card. As evident, there was a dire need to establish a unique identity for every citizen of the country in order to enable smooth functioning. The absence of Aadhar: A Biometric History of India's 12-Digit Revolution is a well researched chronicle of how India built the world's largest identity platform in a short time. Shankkar Aiyar, the author has made commendable efforts to compile various facts, he interviewed several people and traced the history of events which lead to the birth of Aadhar Card. As evident, there was a dire need to establish a unique identity for every citizen of the country in order to enable smooth functioning. The absence of a unique identity made it difficult to track the people who needed help. Corruption, loopholes and other obstacles made the development very difficult. The book, thus covers up the entire process of developing a unique identity platform, the benefits as well as challenges that it faces today. . I like the fact that the things are presented in an objective way. It would be an interesting read if you are curious on how the entire system was developed. It was definitely a different read for me and I learned so much from it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mihir Parekh

    To establish ‘I am who I claim I am’ is much more complex puzzle than we generally think. And to create an ecosystem ensuring identity for one sixth of humanity is mammoth task having no parallel in history. ‘Aadhar: A Biometric History of India’s 12-Digit Revolution’ captures this inspiring and exciting story of creation UIDAI and Aadhar. Being a heterogeneous institution, UIDAI was and is different from other government initiatives. Book narrates this uniqueness as well as politics, economics, To establish ‘I am who I claim I am’ is much more complex puzzle than we generally think. And to create an ecosystem ensuring identity for one sixth of humanity is mammoth task having no parallel in history. ‘Aadhar: A Biometric History of India’s 12-Digit Revolution’ captures this inspiring and exciting story of creation UIDAI and Aadhar. Being a heterogeneous institution, UIDAI was and is different from other government initiatives. Book narrates this uniqueness as well as politics, economics, technology and sociology behind the idea of Aadhar. Book also touches legal and security related aspects associated with the project. This is must read tale of ‘Uniquely Indian achievement’ which materializes wisdom, in words of elderly nomad of Mogiya tribe of Rajasthan from where name of this idea is derived, ‘Pehchaan hi toh jeevan ka aadhar hai’ (Identity is, after all, the foundation of life’).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Premkumar

    A superbly narrated book on Aadhaar - well written and flowing at fast pace. A gripping account of the process of implementing a technology project inside a government. The book is well written, even better than the books of Nandan Nilekani. It also gives confidence that if the government is run by smart and knowledgeable politicians, they can do wonders through technocrats like Nandan, the earlier example being Sam Pitroda and the telecom revolution of the V 80s. It's also nice to see that the A superbly narrated book on Aadhaar - well written and flowing at fast pace. A gripping account of the process of implementing a technology project inside a government. The book is well written, even better than the books of Nandan Nilekani. It also gives confidence that if the government is run by smart and knowledgeable politicians, they can do wonders through technocrats like Nandan, the earlier example being Sam Pitroda and the telecom revolution of the V 80s. It's also nice to see that the successor government has carried the project through eventhough the ultimate intent is not yet clear. By selecting 11 digit unique number for people, probably Nandan had the entire world in his sight. We need more Nilekanis and Pitrodas to lift India out of poverty and be inclusive. Kudos to the author @shankkaraiyar for a well written narrative on Aadhaar.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Siddharth Sharma

    A nice, informative read not just about Aadhaar, but how government projects work overall and how political immunity on some level is necessary for their success. A couple of areas that I didnt know about earlier / brought a change in how I view them... 1) Some IAS officers get to work on amazing projects - they aren't always lazy, stupid sarkari afsars who have no intention / capability of doing impactful developmental work; it's quite the opposite actually. 2) The Indian constitution doesn't exp A nice, informative read not just about Aadhaar, but how government projects work overall and how political immunity on some level is necessary for their success. A couple of areas that I didnt know about earlier / brought a change in how I view them... 1) Some IAS officers get to work on amazing projects - they aren't always lazy, stupid sarkari afsars who have no intention / capability of doing impactful developmental work; it's quite the opposite actually. 2) The Indian constitution doesn't explicitly talk about the right to privacy (does implicitly, still can be legally contested) and that there are multiple petitions pending in front of the Supreme court, arguing that there should be an option to opt out of giving out your biometric data to UIDAI.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mohit Mahawar

    Very detailed insights into the thought process, the need for a unique identity in a country of the size of India and the road ahead for Aadhaar. Shankar Aiyyar has narrated the whole journey beautifully from the inception of UIDAI to scaling up to a billion users. How Nandan Nilekani built a world-class platform from within the government, attracted a lot of private sector talent and the top political leadership (especially Pranab Mukherjee) throwing weight behind him ushering in a sort of revol Very detailed insights into the thought process, the need for a unique identity in a country of the size of India and the road ahead for Aadhaar. Shankar Aiyyar has narrated the whole journey beautifully from the inception of UIDAI to scaling up to a billion users. How Nandan Nilekani built a world-class platform from within the government, attracted a lot of private sector talent and the top political leadership (especially Pranab Mukherjee) throwing weight behind him ushering in a sort of revolution has been discussed at length. Later part of the book tends to be little boring but overall a good read!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Divy Durgesh

    Title of the book says it all. This book takes you to the past and delineates its history in a very precise manner as it peeps through the labyrinth of the government processes and procedures. Aadhaar is a revolution in its own right and as every revolution can be judged only after a lapse of some time, the verdict on this revolution is awaited and must be done after looking into every aspect in which it matters. However, If you are looking for a book which takes you through a debate pertinent t Title of the book says it all. This book takes you to the past and delineates its history in a very precise manner as it peeps through the labyrinth of the government processes and procedures. Aadhaar is a revolution in its own right and as every revolution can be judged only after a lapse of some time, the verdict on this revolution is awaited and must be done after looking into every aspect in which it matters. However, If you are looking for a book which takes you through a debate pertinent to present time and dealing with the questions of privacy and misuse then it is not for you.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vibhooti

    This is recommended to everyone who wants to know about the agenda of the day, much talked about 'Aadhar'; how was it conceptualized and how the Government of India scaled up this project in an unparalleled way. It was not less than a setup of any corporate start-up - conception of the idea, building of a strong team, execution of the idea and facing the on-ground challenges. Informative, interesting and engaging! This is recommended to everyone who wants to know about the agenda of the day, much talked about 'Aadhar'; how was it conceptualized and how the Government of India scaled up this project in an unparalleled way. It was not less than a setup of any corporate start-up - conception of the idea, building of a strong team, execution of the idea and facing the on-ground challenges. Informative, interesting and engaging!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vicky Chijwani

    This is a reasonable overview of how the Aadhaar system came about and some of the context and politics surrounding it. I was mostly interested in the factual parts of this like the timeline of implementation, statistics, and connections to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system for mobile payments. Since this book was published in mid 2017, right around when the UPI ecosystem was heating up, there is sadly no info about the progress made since then.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Hari

    A fast-paced journalistic overview of what it says on the tin - the history of Aadhar. The book is filled with snippets about the Aadhar project - how it first came into being, how the actors behind its development interacted with each other and how its eventual adoption came about. The author did not seem to have too much to add on his own perspective of Aadhar, other than what is already in the public domain. Overall, a fast and informative read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mitesh Patel

    A must read book. This has bit of everything from politics to innovation to revolution.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shyam Upadhyay

    A rare chronicle of possibly India’s most transformative program. While the chronicle is interesting in parts, the sum total is far from satisfying

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anu Tewary

    Informative

  24. 4 out of 5

    Harish

    Interesting facts. Very useful.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Vinay

    Good book Good book. Story of aadhar who started it , how it started and what are chalanges ahead. It is a good reaad

  26. 4 out of 5

    kaushal

    A read worth your time It gets too technical here and there. But the struggle of any reform in india is real. A good read for any indian interested in knowing about adhaar

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sidharth Mishra

    A very well written book on Aadhar - the India first digital identity revolution that provides a unique number to every Indian. Prior to Aadhar, there was not a uniform document which enabled the transformation of identity into identification for the citizens. It was difficult and definitely not a consistent experience to prove for citizens the fact "I am who I say I am". Although the need for this identification was felt for multiple reasons, the two major reasons was improve the efficiency in d A very well written book on Aadhar - the India first digital identity revolution that provides a unique number to every Indian. Prior to Aadhar, there was not a uniform document which enabled the transformation of identity into identification for the citizens. It was difficult and definitely not a consistent experience to prove for citizens the fact "I am who I say I am". Although the need for this identification was felt for multiple reasons, the two major reasons was improve the efficiency in distribution of benefits by plugging leakages and to ensure the security of the nation - reasons which were being felt since the 1980s/90s and the first couple of years of this century post the Twin Tower attacks in the USA and the attempt of the attack on the Indian Parliament. Infact the first pilot project for National Identity Cards was launched in April 2003 in 13 states during the Prime Ministership of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee ji. Then under the UPA Govt, an EGoM (empowered group of Ministers) decided to create Unique Identification Authority of India on 28th Jan 2008. A key role was played by our ex-President Shri Pranab Mukherjee ji in bringing UIDAI to fruition - in fact his spirited attitude had a significant role to play in all of us getting Aadhar cards. Nandan Nilekani - one of the most pioneering entrepreneurs of our country was invited by Dr Manmohan Singh ji to join the Government and head UIDAI as it's chairperson. With guidance from K P Krishnan ji, Nandan Nilekani chose Ram Sewak Sharma (1978 batch of IAS) as UIDAI'S CEO and the duo over the years transformed the dream of Aadhar into a reality with ample support from Dr Manmohan Singh ji, Shri Pranab Mukherjee ji, and later Shri Narendra Modi ji, Shri Arun Jaitley ji alongwith partnership from various Central Govt organizations, State Governments and several private partnerships. The book sheds light on the kind of challenges that UIDAI faced and how they overcame them - from figuring what data fields to collect (which included tacking with various departments who wanted to add one or the other data point), to finalising the biometrics that need to be collected to ensure uniqueness, to the political pushbacks that Aadhar faced, to the legal sanctity, to pushback from some citizen groups concerned with privacy and exclusion and the fraudulent activities that occurred during enrolment. The book describes how the world looked at Aadhar as an example to design digital identification platforms for various countries to plan inclusion programs for various citizens. Aadhar as is described in the book got it's name from an elderly citizen in Rajastan - Naiya Ram Rathore, who described to Naman Pugalia (an Aadhar team member) - "Agar aap isko vaastavikta mein tabdeel kar sakte hain toh bahut accha hoga. Pehchaan hi to jeevan ka aadhaar hai". The enrolment for Aadhar had happened at a scorching pace: In Sept 2010, the first Aadhar number was given, 106 days later in Jan 2011 the 1 millionth, in August 2013, 400 million enrolments were done, in April 2016 the 1 billion mark was closed and 1.15 billion enrolments were done by June 2017. This book is an engaging read on the ups and downs of the exciting journey, the foresightedness by various visionaries, the delicate politics played by various stalwarts and the hard work and can do attitude of several team members to ensure that Aadhar sees the light of the day and every Indian gets an Aadhar number. They really turned the dream (sapna) into reality (vaastavikta).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aryan Kumar Prasad

    A book that captures the journey of Aadhar, a highly debated project that was opposed by both INC and BJP at different points of time. This books gives a good insight of problems any policy that has to face in its implementation- whether legal, political, legislative, financial or technical. This is the story of a project backed by government, if works with "a start-up mentality" could do the wonders. This is the story of how individuals differed from the central leadership (Modi introduced KYR A book that captures the journey of Aadhar, a highly debated project that was opposed by both INC and BJP at different points of time. This books gives a good insight of problems any policy that has to face in its implementation- whether legal, political, legislative, financial or technical. This is the story of a project backed by government, if works with "a start-up mentality" could do the wonders. This is the story of how individuals differed from the central leadership (Modi introduced KYR Plus scheme in Gujarat while BJP was opposing it in centre, only 3 out of 20 INC members agreed with MMS in a parliamentary committee.) This is the story of legal battle between privacy of individuals and welfare of society as a whole. This is the story of how the poor failed to get Aadhar, while Aadhar Card was issued to Hanuman ( Father's Name: PAWAN) and dogs and trees of the rich. In author's own word : India's political economy is replete with tales of how things did not happen. The lament is preceded by the ubiquitous 'if only', about how solutions were thought of but the ideas did not translate into action. This book is the story of how UID is a reality today. This is the story of Aam Admi ka Adhikar, a must read for everyone.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Abhishek Amar

    Good, quick read. I came away with even more admiration for Nandan Nilekani - what he achieved with Aadhaar was nothing short or magical. Also, who knew India had some good bureaucrats! It was refreshing to read about how much impact can be created by enterprising babus who are not slaves to politics or money. About the switch in stance of politicians over the years, the less said, the better. The only person who seemed to have held on to his opinion about Aadhaar was, surprisingly, Pranab Mukhe Good, quick read. I came away with even more admiration for Nandan Nilekani - what he achieved with Aadhaar was nothing short or magical. Also, who knew India had some good bureaucrats! It was refreshing to read about how much impact can be created by enterprising babus who are not slaves to politics or money. About the switch in stance of politicians over the years, the less said, the better. The only person who seemed to have held on to his opinion about Aadhaar was, surprisingly, Pranab Mukherjee - there's a good debt owed to him for being the political tour de force behind this revolution. I do, however, wish that the book brought out the magic of Aadhaar a little more. The writing lacked a certain punch - some monographs did feel like they were a little too long for their own good.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Divya Pal Singh

    If nothing else, this book offers a valuable insight into the blundering way the Indian Govt machinery works. I had hoped for more technical aspects of AADHAAR, but that was sadly lacking. A rather verbose epilogue could have been avoided. Surprised to find the questionable contribution of Rahul Gandhi in the inception of AADHAAR! That the book was printed in a hurry is evident from the many typos littering the text. Overall interesting in parts, but quite superficial. Anyway, I can claim to know ( If nothing else, this book offers a valuable insight into the blundering way the Indian Govt machinery works. I had hoped for more technical aspects of AADHAAR, but that was sadly lacking. A rather verbose epilogue could have been avoided. Surprised to find the questionable contribution of Rahul Gandhi in the inception of AADHAAR! That the book was printed in a hurry is evident from the many typos littering the text. Overall interesting in parts, but quite superficial. Anyway, I can claim to know (and be related to) one of the important protagonists in saga - Shankar Maruwada. Congratulations, Shankar on a job well done.

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