The benefits and risks of technological and social change
Another vital advantage of Aadhaar registration is that it enables Indians living in more remote locations to access banking facilities. By making it possible for these people to get proper loans from real banks, Aadhaar will save them from having to pay the extortionate interest rates that have been imposed on them by local money lenders. Now that India has managed to roll out Aadhaar registration so widely, the opening of banks accounts and the acquisition of SIM cards have become straightforward and affordable for many who were previously excluded.
When we talk about any extensive process of technological and social change – and Aadhaar is surely one of the biggest - we always need to avoid exaggeration, sensationalism and scare-mongering. Otherwise, our discussions will generate more heat than light, as the old saying has it. With this in mind, let’s remind ourselves, for example, that although the Aadhaar project has suffered some minor data leaks, the essential fact is that the biometric data that is central to the whole project remains secure. New technology usually brings some risk. The real question to be asked is whether low levels of risk are outweighed by the great levels of social progress that a project like Aadhaar can bring to India. I think you know the answer to that one!