Data infrastructre underway to empower people: Nandan Nilekani

India was creating data infrastructure for its population of over one billion in way that empowered them, Chairman of Infosys and the brain behind Aadhar scheme Nandan Nilekani said here today.

“Our nation would probably be the first country in the world to have data empowerment infrastructure for its people,” he said in his keynote address at the ‘Future Global Digital Summit’ organised by the Kerala government.

About 1.2 billion people use aadhar. The country has 850 million bank accounts linked to aadhar, of which 550 million were unique bank accounts. The aadhar-linked bank account was the fundamental basis for direct benefit transfer, he said.

Nilekani, a former chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), said the country runs the largest direct benefit transfer system. So far, the government had transferred Rs 1 lakh crore into people’s bank accounts using the system, he added.

The system has massive implication on the economy as it stops money going through multiple layers and leakage, Nilekani said.

“Money now goes directly and electronically into people’s bank accounts. The largest programme is the LPG programme in which 140 million people get benefits through gas cylinder subsidy. The cumulative saving of the government is in the order of about Rs 56,000 crore,” he said.

The benefit of direct transfer began with subsidies for LPG, pension, scholarships and other entitlements and in the coming years, it would be used for state programmes, the chairman of the IT company said.

There was a similar proposal for electricity where instead of subsidising the charge for electricity, it was provided at market price and subsidised through cash transfer, he added. Regarding financial inclusion, he said the last four years saw the opening off 300 million new bank accounts and their correlation to aadhar, because it is easier for people to use an electronic KYC (Know Your Customer) and open a bank account instantly, he said.

“We are approaching an era where everybody has a digital ID number, a device to communicate with and a bank account. This is fundamental digital infrastructure. Mobile, bank account and aadhar are three pillars of a digital world and everyone will have the three things,” Nilekani said.

On Unified Payments Interface (UPI), he said till October 2016, the month before demonetisation, the platform was doing one lakh transactions a month. By February 2018, it had gone up to 172 million, he added.moneycontrol

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