As other countries have discovered, handing out cash is more efficient and less susceptible to corruption than handing out food or subsidising fuel. But as long as many of India’s 1.2 billion people lacked proper identification, let alone bank accounts, cash transfers were impracticable.
Now technology offers a powerful solution. A huge project is getting millions of Indians biometrically identified and opening accounts for them. Nandan Nilekani, an IT billionaire who is the brains behind it, expects that by the end of 2014 600m Indians will be enrolled, creating the infrastructure for a system of cash welfare.
The Economist has been consistent in its support of UID and welfare reform in India.
UPDATE: More from The Economist
Money where your mouth is: A debate is growing about how to get welfare to the needy