India@75, Looking at 100: Preparing for a digital future

Source: The post is based on the article “India@75, Looking at 100: Preparing for a digital future” published in Indian Express on 12th July 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

News: Digital transformation in India is facing some foundation related challenges.

India is witnessing a remarkable digital transformation. It represents the world’s second-largest online market, the lowest data rates, and a growing fintech landscape. However, this acceleration has created potential divides, especially in terms of equitable access to technology.

It helped office work and children’s education during the pandemic. However, issues in Aadhaar-based digital social security programs, such as biometric mismatches, have resulted in the denial of benefits to some citizens.

How are infrastructure challenges impacting the ‘Digital Economy’?

The State of India’s Digital Economy Report emphasizes the role of absent analogue foundations that drive the digital economy, including physical and social infrastructure.

Aspects like poor power supply and low literacy levels contribute to an internet usage gap.

To address these challenges, the Indian government has set goals to provide 4G network coverage to all villages by 2024 and strengthen digital literacy initiatives.

What are the initiatives taken to strengthen India’s ‘Digital Ecosystem’?

The Indian government has launched several initiatives, such as Sanchar Saathi, to address the ecosystem’s vulnerabilities highlighted by increasing cybercrimes and financial frauds.

The impact of digital transformations shouldn’t only be measured in the number of new technologies or users but also by how it affects people’s lives.

Targets on user numbers and network participants should be expanded to include outcomes on financial security, health benefits, and improved living standards.

What principles should policymakers consider?

As India approaches its 100th year of independence and digital ecosystems become integral to economic growth, four principles are suggested for policymakers.

Firstly, the rush to digitise everything should be stopped, because the basic infrastructure is not ready.

Secondly, consultative policy making is needed, with beneficiaries placed at the heart of the process.

Thirdly, policymakers should focus on creating adaptive policies and agile regulatory frameworks. Lastly, policy should be data-driven and evidence-based. The lack of consistent data for meaningful analysis and assessment of the digital ecosystem is a hurdle that needs addressing.

How to ensure the success and sustainability of ‘Digital Transformation’?

The success of any transformative process rests on transparency, regular monitoring, and impact assessments. These processes must be institutionalised to build accountability for such significant changes, helping to establish trust and long-term sustainability of the digital transformation.

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