Study: India's Biometrics Project Does Reach The Poor And ID-less

India's mammoth biometrics project, Aadhaar, has been challenged as an expensive undertaking that risked duplicating ID schemes already in place. But a new study suggests that Aadhaar may be on track to reaching its goal of IDing unregistered low-income millions across rural India. A survey of 514,000 households show that 56 percent of Aadhaar enrollees did not have other forms of portable IDs. Lead author Arun Sundararajan from NYU's Stern business school predicts that 300 million Indians without any form of ID would have one by the end of 2012, if signups and enrollments continue in the coming months as expected. "What's important here is that we are not simply seeing people with pre-existing portable ID adding yet another one to their repertoire" Sundararajan said in the release. "Rather, millions of Indians who had no modern form of ID now have one, and this number is growing every month." A form of ID is required to open bank accounts, register for cell phones, and access any kind of government benefit scheme. As enrollment numbers grow--200 million Indians have been enrolled, 170 million have been issued IDs--the Aadhaar system is due to be piloted at banks in 50 districts in India. 

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