This weekend, India’s unique ID number, or Aadhaar, will formally celebrate its second anniversary. It’s an important landmark for a project that started with the audacious objective of arming every resident of India with a unique ID. In the last two years, the Unique Identification Authority of India has issued 208 million UIDs and it aims to reach its target of 600 million by 2014.
More than numbers, the biggest contribution of the project has been to alter the mindset of the government, or at least part of it. Headed by Nandan Nilekani, a high-profile lateral inductee from the private sector, it also changed several government processes.
To be sure, it could have done much more, if not for turf wars and bureaucrats worried about losing control. Nilekani may have liked to claim Mission Accomplished on Saturday, but these obstacles have put paid to that.