Nandan Nilekani, who shaped the world's largest biometric database with India's Aadhaar project, is confident that the government's ban on 500 and 1,000 rupee notes will ensure financial inclusion surges. Mr Nilekani, co-founder of IT giant Infosys, predicated digital transactions will escalate considerably in the next 3-6 months to a rate that would otherwise have taken "3 to 6 years." Mr Nilekani said that any short-term contraction in economic growth will be compensated for very quickly "with digitization."
Aadhaar, which assigns a unique identity (UID) to every citizen linked to their biometrics, is key to helping rural India open zero-balance or Jan Dhan bank accounts and to avail of direct cash transfers to the poor through welfare schemes.
In 2014, Mr Nilekani ran unsuccessfully for parliament as a Congress candidate from Bengaluru.
"The credit for creating the Aadhaar system goes to the UPA government, Dr Manmohan Singh," said Mr Nilekani, referring to the former Prime Minister. "At the same time, am grateful to PM Modi because he has taken what was built and applied it to so many schemes...this government took it forward," he said about how the Aadhaar project has been increasingly utilized.
"A lot will depend on the next three months. If they accelerate digitization... long-term, it will be a very good development," he said.