Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric identification project that has enrolled 100 crore residents so far. Ram Sewak Sharma’s new book The Making of Aadhaar: World’s Largest Identity Platform offers insights into the creation of this one-of-a-kind system that was built at a fraction of the cost of alternative identity systems previously tried in India and elsewhere.
The book is published by Rupa Publications and is due to be released on 12 September. A first-hand account of the makings of Aadhaar, the book provides a lucid and in-depth understanding of the 12-digit identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority Of India (UIDAI) and how it continues to change and redefine India.
Sharma, who was the first director-general of UIDAI, led a team in developing the technology that undergirds Aadhaar, alongside Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani. The team had enrolled the resident population of India, created an online authentication mechanism for the digital world, and operationalized an ecosystem to take advantage of the new identity system. The book offers an interesting case study since major government projects often tend to range from being “underwhelming” to becoming “spectacular failures”. Aadhaar is the exception to this rule.
Sharma is currently the chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). He had studied mathematics at IIT Kanpur and joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1978. He is an engaging speaker, forthright in expressing his opinions that frequently appear in newspaper columns.