Press Releases

ISB embarks on a nation-wide research effort on Aadhaar, its impact and potential

  • Partners with academic institutions from India and abroad to build a research ecosystem 
  • Initial phase to focus on benefit transfers, financial inclusion, public distribution systems and healthcare schemes 
  • ISB supported by 2 million USD grant from Omidyar Network
  • IDinsight’s State of Aadhaar Report 2016-17 and website also released 

July 5, 2017: The Indian School of Business (ISB) today announced the launch of the Digital Identity Research Initiative (DIRI) - a pioneering multi-disciplinary research initiative on Aadhaar and its implications. The School will engage with researchers and academic institutions from India and abroad to promote an ecosystem of academic research on Aadhaar. The initial phase of the research will cover the impact of Aadhaar in areas such as benefit transfers, financial inclusion, healthcare schemes, public distribution systems and public policy. DIRI at ISB has received support from Omidyar Network through a grant of 2 million USD for a period of two years.
Announcing the launch of the initiative, Professor Rajendra Srivastava, Dean, ISB said, “ISB is excited to be leading the Digital Identity Research Initiative as we are confident that this research will be path-breaking and will translate into knowledge with immediate application for policy makers, educators, service providers, and entrepreneurs. In the last 16 years ISB has earned the distinction of being a research focused B School and we believe that our research prowess gives us the edge to lead an initiative of this kind. I would like to thank Omidyar Network for supporting us in this endeavour which will contribute towards positioning India as a leader in the area of digital identity research.”
Sharing his views, Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, UIDAI, said, “I am glad to note that the Indian School of Business (ISB) is setting up a research initiative around the important topic of digital identity in India. An evidence informed debate on the salient issues around digital identity, specifically Aadhaar, will go a long way in strengthening the efforts of the government. The State of Aadhaar Report 2016-17 by IDinsight is a useful step in providing an organised overview of the Aadhaar landscape.”
India has the world’s largest biometric enabled digital identity system in use and offers enormous potential to conduct multidisciplinary research, the outcomes of which will have deep implications for India and the world. The Government of India has been working on making ‘Aadhaar’ an integral part of welfare programs to achieve efficiency and effectiveness. The private sector applications have enabled new business models in India with the objective of inclusive growth and increased efficiency in benefit transfers. However, the architecture and uses of digital identity remain under-researched and are a matter of intense debate. Anecdotal evidence and early research output are pointing to an even greater need for rigorous research on this topic. 
Roopa Kudva, Partner and Managing Director, India at Omidyar Network said:"Omidyar Network is delighted to support the launch of the Digital Identity Research Initiative and the inaugural State of Aadhaar Report 2016-17. The scale of Aadhaar means that there is a pressing need to generate evidence on the costs, benefits and risks of the program, including its impact on individual empowerment and government efficiency and effectiveness. Robust, empirical and independent research is vital to deliver better policy outcomes, and we hope the report will not only be helpful for policy-makers in India, but for any country considering implementing a digital identity system,” 
On this occasion, IDinsight’s State of Aadhaar Report 2016-17 was also released. This report provides a first-of-its-kind overview of Aadhaar’s technological and operational architecture, legal and governance framework, and its applications in financial inclusion, social protection, and emerging uses in other sectors. The report aims to facilitate a more data and evidence-centric understanding of the Aadhaar ecosystem and highlights important areas for future research. 
“The multidisciplinary nature of Aadhaar demands the effort of experts across a range of disciplines. We hope the State of Aadhaar Report 2016-17 will provide a foundational understanding to propel further research efforts”, said Ronald Abraham, Partner, IDinsight, submitting the report.  
Since the Digital Identity Research Initiative will be multi-faceted, ISB will tap into national and international networks to identify the best of scholars and build an ecosystem of researchers from disciplines such as law, sociology, technology and policymaking among others. ISB will set up a steering committee comprising senior faculty from ISB, academicians, experts with deep expertise in Aadhaar and private sector practitioners, who will set the research agenda and related processes for this initiative. ISB and Omidyar Network have agreed to partner for an initial period of two years, but since Digital Identity is an evolving but under-researched area, ISB is confident that its impact will translate into a long term research opportunity.
The Digital Identity Research Initiative at ISB will be formally launched later in the evening by Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal, Honourable Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs in the presence of Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, UIDAI, Professor Rajendra Srivastava, Dean, ISB, Roopa Kudva, Partner and Managing Director, India at Omidyar Network, Ronald Abraham, Partner, IDinsight, representatives from leading academic institutions, business leaders and officials from the government.  
About Indian School of Business:
Indian School of Business (ISB) is a global Business school offering world-class management education across its two campuses – Hyderabad and Mohali. The School has grown at a rapid pace over the sixteen years since its inception and already has several notable accomplishments to its credit – it is the youngest school ever to consistently rank among the top Global MBA programmes, one among the select 100 global B-schools to have AACSB and EQUIS accreditation, one of the largest providers of Executive Education in Asia, and the most research productive Indian management institution. A vibrant pool of research-oriented resident faculty, strong academic associations with leading global B-schools and the backing of an influential Board, have helped the ISB fast emerge as a premier global Business school in the emerging markets. For details visit 
About IDinsight:
IDinsight is an international development consulting organisation that helps policymakers and managers make socially impactful decisions using rigorous evidence. We carefully tailor a wide range of analytical and quantitative tools to enable our clients to design better policies, rigorously test those ideas, and take informed action at scale to improve lives. Our advisory teams have led embedded cells within ministries of state-level governments-including Andhra Pradesh and Bihar-and have worked in a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, education, health, and digital identity. We strive to provide comprehensive support for clients who want to maximise their social impact through evidence-informed policymaking. IDinsight has offices in Delhi, Lusaka, Manila, Nairobi, San Francisco and Vijayawada. To learn more, visit 
About Omidyar Network:
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm. We create opportunity for people to improve their lives by investing in market-based efforts that catalyse economic and social change. In India, we focus our efforts on helping the 100's of millions of Indians in low-income and lower-middle-income populations, which we define as ranging from the poorest among us to the existing middle class.