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India ushers into digital era in a big way
New Delhi, Aug 19 - Digital foot print is the new currency for economic development of next generation for any country. The recent viral video of Indias External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar narrating an incident of his visit to a restaurant in the US along with his son during the Covid-19 pandemic indicates how India successfully adopted digital technology to manage the crisis, taking advantages of the Central governments CoWin portal.
While the Indian Minister showed his vaccination certificate using his mobile, his son who lives in the US, took paper certificate out from his wallet. This shows the degree of adoptability of digital technology in India, which is even much higher compared with many developed countries like the US. Although being a developing country, Indian digital footprint is appreciated worldwide for its social inclusiveness, which has 2nd highest penetration of internet users in the world with 600+ million users.
Bullish about the digital power and accessibility of the internet in India to transact and its deep penetration into the society, Scott Rigby, chief technology advisor and principle product manager for enterprise solutions at JAPAC, during a recent visit to India stated: "India is very lucky. You've got a deep pool of technical talent to be able to execute on that and be able to realise that."
Currently, India is also eyeing upon the expansion of 5G network to capitalise its advantages, which would further expand digital foot print.
The penetration of digital footprint has expanded to all the sectors of the Indian economy which is attributed mainly to the factors of affordability, i.e. availability of cheap data as well as local talent along with federal government's push, and it is catching up. The momentum of digital revolution could be gauged from increase in the smart phone users base, multiplying 5 times during the period 2014-2019. Global telecom gear makers expect India to account about 15% of the worldwide market for the 5G network. It would cover over 50 per cent of the geographical area of the country in the next two years. The development would usher India in a big way into a digital economy.
Analysts point out at the difference between 'access' and 'usage' of technology, especially in digital infrastructure and India had alreadymastered both of them. The issue facing the developed world is 'usage', i.e., consumer privacy, security, data protection, productivity. The developing world needs 'access', i.e. digital availability, affordability and usage of infrastructure. India's path in digitalisation showed a universal approach that is necessary to reconcile these factors and became a successful leader in its programmes.
India's crossing the digital divide had been demonstrated during the pandemic. It created special platforms for 'Aarogya Setu' app using CoWin platform and coordinating all data and public supplies, including hospital bed management, vaccine distribution, thereby successfully managing Covid pandemic and minimising waste, besides giving access to health resources to all the eligible. India's success story also proved that it can bridge a 'hard' and 'soft' infrastructure gap -- 'hard' includes devices, electricity, telecom, servers, data centres, while 'soft' includes digital platforms, content, legal and policy measures across value-chains. India even offered the technology for social benefit of other countries in public good management.
Covid vaccination programme of Indian government was the most digitalised public programme. India adopted a complete digital approach while planning the vaccination strategy as it could secure and trustworthy proof to establish when, where and by whom the citizens have been vaccinated. This digital approach avoided all kinds' malpractices and wastage in the vaccine administration, besides winning over heart of millions all over the world.
Digitally connected social welfare programmes came handy during the pandemic. Using the biometric identity, the Indian government's public programmes connected to bank accounts through which citizens receive services and subsidies, from pensions to remittances, licences to food rations, expanding social inclusiveness in the country. The unique feature of it is that public authority stores the digital records ? but consent of sharing data lies with the individual, thus maintaining privacy as well as foolproof access to the system to implement welfare programmes for targeted groups minimising misuse.
It has been tested during the pandemic across India's vast, diverse population, and at monumental scale ? with food rations for migrant workers, vaccines taken and digital certificates provided.
Successful digitalisation of country is that which is making digitalisation a 'public good' -- available, affordable, accessible, auditable, scalable -- with privacy embedded in its design. The UN Secretary General had also noted this in a substantive road map for digital cooperation between the countries. It is so because the world is also tied down to three approaches, proprietary digital platforms owned by a few private players, especially the developed ones, a government mandated system, especially in a democratic country, and a broad regulation for consumers disconnected from their needs due to digital divide.
Fintech is another area where rapid digitalisation is cutting down the cost of lending. According to a report by VC firm Chiratae Ventures and Ernst & Young (EY), digital lending space in India is expected to touch $515 billion along with the asset under management (AUM) touching $1 trillion by 2030.
India is democratising credit flows to MSMEs while simultaneously driving digitalisation within them, a step further in digitalising the credit flows. In the absence of data, the costs of reaching these MSMEs, underwriting, monitoring and repayment risks of small-sized loans, make it difficult for lenders to provide cheap credit. Further, it is bringing together private participants like app-based companies, credit-scoring, mutual funds, insurance, telecoms, to speed up innovation across the entire lending value chain. Digitalisation of financial inclusion is a great success of the Indian government.
Private sector entities are also taking part in the digital development through their own networks that too without support from the government, that is unique to any country. There are many Indian private players who have tied up with public authorities around the world to provide public solutions to enhance welfare of people.
The need of the hour is more and more digitalisation for both supply chain management as well as for resources management to minimise wastage & cost. The hope is for democratic digitalisation to create new tiger economies, across continents, in the Indo-Pacific, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. With the deadline for the 2030, Sustainable Development Goals approaching, time is running out to tackle mega challenges right from climate crisis to better healthcare and education for all. Digitalisation is a boon to the administrators across the world, where in India had already became a leader. Digital footprint is the new age infrastructure and India is going to reap more benefits in the coming days. The digitalisation would promote public welfare in a democratic manner as exemplified by India.
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