ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On the NIPFP Response

Before I take issue with some of the points made in the NIPFP response to this comment, it may be useful to recapitulate a few points on which there appears to be agreement: (1) Aadhaar-integration can resolve only certain types of leakages, for which reliable data is unavailable; this was not adequately accounted for in the cost-benefit exercise; (2) the NIPFP study has a fragile basis (in particular, the estimated “rate of return” on unique identification (UID) number builds on a whole series of ad hoc assumptions); (3) the study is conducted by a research group that receives funds from Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), “without disclosure”.

In spite of these limitation, the conclusions (“50% rate of return”) were handsomely played up in the media, including a newspaper in which one of the principal authors is a consulting editor (see “Large Returns Expected from Aadhaar”, Indian Express, 10 November 2012). The main purpose of the comment was to draw attention to the details of the NIPFP study which, unfortunately, were swept aside in the public discusssion. Instead, the ad hoc assumptions were repeatedly termed “conservative” or “modest”.

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