Accueil > India's Digital ID programme "Aadhar": a foundation for digital transformation in society

KETU 2240 - Aadhar: India's digital identity project for a billion people (course taught via ZOOM)

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2020-2021

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


An interest in digital transformation underway in societies and the use of digital technologies (ICTs) by governments for public service delivery would be helpful. A desire to dive deeper into policymaking context and processes in developing countries would facilitate discussions and search for practical solutions for challenges at the intersection of technology and policy.

Course Description

Through a case study on Aadhaar (meaning foundation in Hindi), an ambitious project to deliver unique identity to over a billion people in India, the course would enable participants to examine the positions of different stakeholders involved in shaping the project. The main objective of the course is to introduce participants to the challenges governments in developing countries face in navigating digital transformations that our society is undergoing. As part of real time negotiations, participants would solve critical challenges facing the Aadhaar project at different stages, including from implementing the technology to uniquely identify a billion people with adequate safeguards for privacy, the constitutional challenge to the law enacted by Parliament in India's Supreme Court, and the possible risks associated with exclusion of beneficiaries of government services due to technology malfunction. The case study would be discussed against a conceptual framework of ‘government as a platform', thereby equipping participants with both analytical tools to understand digital transformation in government and to develop a nuanced understanding of challenges in implementing digital transformation projects. While the focus of the case study would be India, through the course of the course, participants would have the opportunity to engage in brief discussions with experts working on digital IDs and Data Protection in Africa (tentatively in Kenya, Ghana and South Africa).


SIBAL, Prateek (Specialist Consultant)

Pedagogical format

Case study and brief guest engagement to deepen contextual understanding.

Course validation

The course would evaluate participants on i) understanding of the case through class discussions and summaries (10%) ii) ability to think strategically and negotiate positions from the point of view of different stakeholders through negotiation position paper (30%) iii) analytical and problem solving skills through team presentation on solutions for addressing stakeholder concerns with Aadhaar (30%) and iv) recommendations for policymakers on developing digital ID projects (30%).


Students will be expected to thoroughly evaluate the case study, do the required readings and prepare for the classroom discussions that would be in the form of active negotiations among different stakeholders. In between classroom sessions students will be expected to spend about 4 hours (individually or in groups) to complete readings and assigned tasks.

Required reading

  • Prateek Sibal, Aadhar: Digital identity for a billion people in India, Sciences Po, 2020. (to be made available before lectures start)
  • Tim O Reilly, Government as a Platform, MIT University Press, 2011 -
  • OECD (2019), Chapter 1, Digital Innovation: Seizing Policy Opportunities, OECD Publishing, Paris -
  • World Bank (2019), New practitioner's guide to help countries in their digital identification journey -
  • Eaves, David; McGuire, Ben (2018), 2018 State of Digital Transformation -

Additional required reading

  • World Bank (2018), Technology Landscape for Digital Identification, -
  • World Bank (2017), The State Of Identification Systems In Africa -
  • UNESCO (2019), Chapter 1, Steering AI and Advanced ICTs for Knowledge Societies -