The World Bank has described India's Aadhaar card, meant to provide a unique identity number to every citizen, as one of the best example of integration of technology for social welfare use.
Jim Yong Kim, president of the global soft lender, said at a recent function that he believes this massive effort by the Indian government would help in achieving his goal of poverty eradication by 2030.
"On a larger scale we've got to think about how we can integrate this technology into a massive effort to scale up access to financial services," Kim said at a World Bank event in Washington during which information technology guru Nandan Nilekani, who heads the Aadhar task force, made a presentation.
Nilekani, a co founder of Infosys, is the chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India, with the rank of an honorary cabinet minister.
Kim said the Aaadhaar project could help achieve the target of eradicating poverty by 2030 in several ways.
"On a comparatively smaller scale - being able to keep online records of what medicines tuberculosis patients, for example, have been getting - could help in curtailing the ability of certain strains of tuberculosis to get more and more resistant over time," Nilekani said.
"I see this as the beginning of an institution-wide conversation about how we can make this system work for everybody. I'm not quite sure how to do it, so I'm hoping all our staff will continue to come to us with ideas on how to make this work on a large scale," he said.
Kim said, "This is the science of delivery. Now, more than ever, we have to find innovations like these that have been thought through carefully, and are quickly and easily scalable."
Aadhaar is a 12-digit number which the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is issuing for all residents in India. The UIDAI is storing basic demographic and biometric information – a photograph, prints of all the normal 10 fingers and eye scan - of each individual in a central database.
Despite Kim's optimism, however, the Aadhar system is far from taking off yet. For one thing, the process of getting an Aadhar ID is still difficult in most of India; for another, banks and even government institutions are still far from geared to accepting the Aadhar number as proof of identity.
There are also credible reports that despite Nilekani's optimism, his UIADA remains near the bottom of the list when it comes to government funding.