Reetika Khera | Welfare Needs Aadhaar Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle?

Lecture | October 17 | 5-7 p.m. | Stephens Hall, 10 (ISAS Conf. Room)

 Reetika Khera, Associate Professor of Economics, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

 Pranab Bardhan, Professor of Graduate School at the Department of Economics, UC Berkeley

 Institute for South Asia Studies, Sarah Kailath Chair of India Studies

Join us for a lecture by development economist, Dr. Reetika Khera.

Aadhaar, India's ambitious biometric ID project, was portrayed as one that would enhance India's welfare efforts by promoting inclusion and reducing corruption. From being a voluntary ID, it has become de facto compulsory for most welfare programmes such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and the Public Distribution System (PDS). Despite early warnings of its limited role in its stated objected, successive government's have ramped up its use. Using a variety of data sources, this paper reviews the impact of Aadhaar on welfare programmes. Far from being inclusive and reducing corruption, Aadhaar is becoming a tool of exclusion, with little evidence of an impact on corruption in NREGA, PDS and pensions, etc. The government's estimates of savings are examined, but these do not stand scrutiny. What passes as 'savings' is often the result of denial of legal entitlements for lack of Aadhaar. In that sense, the Aadhaar project undermines the right to life.

About the Speaker
Reetika Khera is Sulaiman Mutawa Associate Chair in Economics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. She is a development economist whose work focuses on social policy issues including hunger, nutrition, public health, corruption, and basic education in India. Khera received her PhD in Economics from Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, and her M.Phil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. She has received fellowships from the Institute for Economic Growth, the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, King’s College London, and Princeton University.

Khera’s research has shaped several policy debates around India’s public services. For over fifteen years, she has conducted field studies on India’s public services – child-care centers, school meals, public health services, etc. – with a view to understanding the impact of government programs, contrasts across states, and change over time. She has published widely across disciplinary genres, including in the Journal of Development Studies, Food Policy, Population and Development Review, and World Development, and is regular contributor to Economic and Political Weekly.

Prof. Khera is currently an International Visiting Scholar for the month of October at the Stanford Humanities Center and Center for South Asia.

Please read more about her and her publications at her home page.

Event made possible with the support of the Sarah Kailath Chair of India Studies

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