A new National Highway: Virtual Connectivity to override Physical Infrastructure in India


Can Aadhaar evolve into a virtual connectivity infrastructure that drives a seamlessly connected society? What if Aadhaar gears up to be India’s answer to its painstakingly slow progress in building physical highways and infrastructure.

Aadhaar is a unique identification initiative launched by the Government of India under its planning commission. It is an ambitious project of using basic IT technology (databases, computing) and connectivity (fixed or mobile) to create a dynamic online identity system. The integration of biometric technology has provided an advanced and secure capability of authentication. This has further been extended by integrating payment platforms and providing an unified system of real-time identity, authorization and payment transaction support.

The vision outlined by the government lays emphasis on social & financial inclusion. As the first step, authorization and payment services are being used to drive delivery of distribution and transaction based services. Initial pilots have focused on social and welfare schemes such as Public Distribution Systems, LPG distribution & subsidy management, old-age pension distribution etc. In the next phase, applications could extend usage from authorization to access control or location/presence and drive services that are as simple as attendance to more dynamic deployment of resources based on current location of users. The scenarios are only limited by our imagination.

However, for true momentum to be built up, the initiative has to garner the industry attention and evolve to provide value to encourage adoption by businesses and enterprises.  This will not just lead to a massive build-up of Aadhaar-enabled services but also provide the impetus to propel it out of the current orbit to the next level of growth.

This evolution will need to be centered around 3 core areas – (1) Extending its application beyond social welfare into businesses (2) Introducing Support for Analytics – analytics could be used for converting raw data into value-added user/service context or applied to intelligence-driven operations (3) Inter-linkages with other databases and systems for seamless connectivity.

Data has been touted as the new oil of the connected world. However, our experience has taught us that data has no value unless it is acted on and converted into meaningful actions. Its only when the monetization potential is realized that it will drive social change.

The question for all of us – can this infrastructure be exploited to compensate for the lag in physical infrastructure investments? A nation that has been recognized for its extensive reserves of IT resources should not falter in playing to its strength in IT – we should be investing in creating an unprecedented scale of connected applications cut across both social and industrial sectors and use the virtual connectivity to open up reach as well as delivery. This could be the one area where we outpace every other nation & challenge the perceived dominance of other emerging nations like China.