HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, HSPH; Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer in Law, HLS


This paper examines the promise of inclusive social protection central to India’s Aadhaar scheme, a national initiative using biometric information to allocate unique identification numbers to Indian residents. Aadhaar has reached over one billion people and promises to expand access to basic identification, improve enrolment in social protection and financial inclusion schemes, curb leakages, reduce corruption and address other gaps in India’s social protection architecture. However, the establishment of a national identification scheme does not of itself guarantee social protection. This paper assesses Aadhaar’s aims to achieve inclusive social protection through personal, civic, functional and entrepreneurial inclusion, and explores whether Aadhaar indeed fulfils these goals. Although it is too early conclusively to evaluate Aadhaar as a transformative contributor to social protection in India, there is much to be learned for transnational social protection from the scheme’s efforts to create a more inclusive system and to address the critical questions of privacy and state surveillance at stake.


Bhatia, Amiya, and Jacqueline Bhabha. "India’s Aadhaar Scheme and the Promise of Inclusive Social Protection." Oxford Development Studies 45.1 (January 2017): 64-79.