This blog will be on hiatus for June through August, as I will be a research assistant in Hyderabad for JPAL! I’m working on the Andhra Pradesh Smartcards Project, and I’ve been learning a lot about it, so I can provide a short description.
India is woefully crippled by corruption. It is estimated that only $0.15 of every dollar meant for a poor person is actually received by the intended welfare recipient; the rest is leaked to corrupt higher-ups.
So what is the solution? Enter Nandan Nilekani, who you can read more about here. An IIT grad and one of the founders of Infosys, the Indian government has hired him to head the world’s most ambitious unique identification effort – get all of India’s poor fingerprinted and supplied with biometric ID cards which they can use to track, authorize, and safely receive their payments. If successful, this will be the largest biometric database in the world, larger than that of the FBI.
I’ll be working on a project that is conducting a large household survey to determine the effect of the cards – do they really cut down on leakage? Do they promote financial inclusion? The cards, most importantly, are being rolled out randomly, so this IS a question that can be answered!
Updates to come in August when I return!