Aadhaar, India’s digital identity program, has been marketed by its makers as the most reliable identification for public benefits. But human rights advocates feel the other way. And they all the reasons to do so. Several facts suggest systemic exclusions for many of India’s marginalized peoples and the aggressive push for including every person’s private data on a database to finally use the same data for mass surveillance. Aadhaar has been oversimplified as a 12-digit unique number that can be used to authenticate at a point of service — government or private. However, it is tied to a person’s biometric data like fingerprint and iris scan, and a range of personal data. The complex role that Aadhaar plays in the lives of some of the most marginalized communities is what Yoti Digital Identity Fellow Subhashish Panigrahi aims to study through the project MarginalizedAadhaar.


Episode 1: The Aadhaar Of All Exclusions

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In the first episode of this podcast, rights activist and author Raghu Godavar discusses about the systemic exclusions in the enrollment and use of Aadhaar. An undisclosed guest from the indigenous Jurai Sora community of the Indian state of Odisha shares what led her to enroll for Aadhaar, and finally, Welkin Alagunambi reveals how poor work cultures in Aadhaar enrollment centers in the state of Tamil Nadu has led to a potential breach of privacy.

Field diaries

January 2020

Updates and insights from the field study including 20 individuals from two Indian states who share different levels of marginalization (including access to information and exclusion in social benefits) because of Aadhaar, interviews with human rights advocates for alternate narratives that counter claims by Aadhaar’s supporters — the authorities and other actors. (read more…)

November 2019

An early study of some of the marginalized communities and the exclusions that they face in relation to Aadhaar — systemic exclusions due to poor design of Aadhaar, privacy risks of citizens,  access to public information in native languages, and larger social issues. (read more…)