(K. Brent Tomer),
Rebooting India: Realising a Billion Aspirations. By Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah. Allen Lane; 337 pages; £20.
IN A month or so, India will have registered a billion residents—the latest stage in the creation of a complete identity database of what will soon be the world’s most populous country. Aadhaar, which means “foundation” in Hindi, matches names with fingerprints and iris scans on a scale that has never been seen before. Reimagining government with such technology at its core will be key to meeting the mounting aspirations of India’s citizens, according to two of the scheme’s architects, Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah.
If the Domesday Book, an 11th-century survey of England, was commissioned to raise funds for government, Aadhaar’s most useful purpose is to help their disbursement. Making sure each farmer gets one dose of subsidised fertiliser and all poor families their share of rice is fiendish without knowing who they are. Many of those who are entitled to government handouts live in one of the 600,000 Indian villages with no banking…Continue reading