Open Minds 2018: Public Square

Reetika Khera, Economist

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Identity Crisis

Few other economists have been more active in drawing attention to what she describes as the “layers of vulnerability” of the poorest of the poor in Indian when it comes to availing of welfare benefits linked to Aadhaar, the unique identity number that uses an individual’s biometric data. An associate professor of economics at IIM-Ahmedabad, she has zealously tracked the legal trajectory of how the authorities have deployed Aadhaar, and how it has stoked corporate greed for the ‘new oil’—the data of citizens.

The use of Aadhaar in welfare programmes is an admission of ‘governance’ failure. The Government has failed to hold to account the minority who indulge in corrupt practices. Instead, by deploying untested technology, victims of corruption are paying the heaviest price

Focusing on social policies, she has exposed various fake claims made on behalf of Aadhaar. That it disables corruption and secures inclusion, she has argued, is a myth. She interviewed hundreds of people in India’s hinterland to come to the conclusion that the system hasn’t solved problems of fraud in welfare programmes. She wrote recently that ‘with Aadhaar we are not up against the might of corporations or that of the state, but against the combined might of the state and corporations’.

Complete List of Open Minds 2018: Public Square

Salman Rushdie, Author | Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Political scientist | Nandan Nilekani, Infosys Chairman | Srinath Raghavan, Historian | Ram Madhav, BJP Leader | Swapan Dasgupta, Political commentator and MP | Shashi Tharoor, Scholar Politician | TCA Raghavan, Historian | Ramachandra Guha, Historian | Brahma Chellaney, Strategic thinker | Uday Shankar, President, 21st Century Fox, Asia | Anantha Chandrakasan, Technologist | Gita Gopinath, Economist | Soumya Swaminathan, Paediatrician and clinical scientist | Prasoon Joshi, Poet and Censor Board chairman | Madhav Khosla, Scholar | Sidharth Luthra, Lawyer | Shayara Bano, Triple Talaq Petitioner | Reuben Abraham, Economic Analyst | Pratima Joshi, Architect | Reetika Khera, Economist | Shamika Ravi, Economist | Sharmila Bhattacharya, Scientist | Vijay Prasad, Historian | Nayanjot Lahiri, Historian | Avani Chaturvedi, Fighter Pilot, IAF | Pranshu and Nishant Patni, Entrepreneurs

Complete List of Open Minds 2018: Soft Power

Virat Kohli, Captain, Indian Cricket Team | Priyanka Chopra, Actor | Jeet Thayil, Author | Anju Dodiya, Artist | Alia Bhatt, Actor | Rajkummar Rao, Actor | Chetan Bhagat, Author | Jahnvi Dameron Nandan, Perfumer | Rupi Kaur, Poet | Parvathy Thiruvothu, Actor | Sujatha Gidla, Author | Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, Architect | Prayaag Akbar, Author | Ruchika Sachdeva, Fashion Designer | Palghat R Ramprasad, Carnatic musician | Unni R, Author | Kunal Kamra, Comedian | Vikas Khanna, Chef and Television Personality | Shoojit Sircar, Filmmaker | Srikanth Kidambi, Badminton Player | CS Santosh, Off-Road Biking Champion | Mayank Austen Soofi, Author and Blogger | Ratish Nanda, Conservation Architect