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Bill Gates Funds World Bank to Replicate Aadhaar Model in Other Countries

The benefits of Aadhaar are very high, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said.

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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has funded the World Bank to take the “Aadhaar” approach to other countries, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said.

Noting that the technology does not pose any privacy issues, the 62-year-old multi-billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist said that Infosys c0-founder Nandan Nilekani, who developed Aadhaar, was going to help the World Bank on the project on a consulting basis, PTI reported.

Gates believes that the Aadhaar technology, which has more than a billion people enrolled, is worth emulating. “The benefits of that [basic ID – Aadhaar] are very high,” he said. “Countries should adopt that approach because the quality of governance has a lot to do with how quickly countries are able to grow their economy and empower their people.”

Several countries have approached India for assistance in applying a similar system, the report said.

Elaborating on why he thinks the world’s largest biometric system poses no privacy issues, Gates said: “Aadhaar in itself doesn’t pose any privacy issue because it’s just a bio ID verification scheme. The individual applications that use Aadhaar, you have to look and see what’s been stored and who has access to that information. And so, application by application, you have to make sure that’s well managed. In the case of the financial bank account I think it’s handled very well.”

He added: “(It uses) Aadhaar to set up the accounts so that you can both get your cell phone and get your bank account.”

Gates also applauded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that while Aadhaar was introduced before his term, “it was very much to his credit that he was willing to embrace it.”

Gates had earlier praised the Aadhaar system in his lecture on “Technology for Transformation” organized by NITI Aayog in November 2016. He had observed then that Aadhaar is something that had never been done by any government before, not even in a rich country.

The implementation of Aadhaar has been embroiled in controversy in India over fears of breach of citizens’ privacy. Final hearings over the issue have been going on since Jan. 17 before a five-judge bench in the Supreme Court, as all the petitions against it have been clubbed under the first challenge filed by Justice KS Puttaswamy (retd) five years ago. The final hearings come on the heels of the apex court’s ruling last year that privacy is a fundamental right of the Indian citizen.

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