Remarkable Journey of Digital Public Infrastructure 

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    Syllabus : GS 2/Governance

    • In this age of rapid technological advancement, India has embarked on a remarkable journey of deploying Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) which has reshaped the nation’s socio-economic landscape.
    • Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) refers to the foundational digital infrastructure and platforms created by governments to facilitate the delivery of digital services to citizens. 
    • It encompasses a range of technologies and systems designed to improve the efficiency, accessibility, and inclusivity of public services in the digital age.
    • Foundational elements of DPI are like:
      • Digital Identification Systems: Programs like Aadhaar in India that provide a unique digital identity for citizens.
      • Payment Infrastructure: Platforms like Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in India that facilitate secure and efficient digital payments.
      • Data Exchange Solutions: Frameworks that enable secure and standardized exchange of data between different entities.
    • India boasts the highest number of digital transactions, surpassing even the combined figures of the US, China, and Europe.
      • The digital economy is booming, projected to reach a staggering $1 trillion by 2025. 
    • This growth is fuelled by a massive internet user base, with over 759 million Indians actively connected, with a significant portion residing in rural areas.
    •  The ambitious Aadhaar programme, a digital ID system, has enrolled nearly 1.3 billion citizens, facilitating efficient delivery of welfare services, financial transactions, and access to government schemes.
    • Similarly, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is witnessing exponential growth, expected to reach a billion transactions daily by 2026. 
    • Broadband connectivity has also seen a significant leap, reaching over 93 per cent of Indian villages.
      • These milestones reflect India’s unwavering commitment to building a digitally empowered and inclusive society.
    • The emergence of DPI has ushered in an era of e-governance, with citizens gaining online access to a wide range of government services.
    • DPI empowers individuals and businesses to participate in the digital economy, regardless of location or socioeconomic background.
    • India’s DPI initiatives, often referred to as the India Stack, have been instrumental in boosting productivity, improving efficiency, and generating employment opportunities
    • A robust digital infrastructure fosters global connectivity, financial inclusion, and innovation.
    • It serves as a springboard for entrepreneurs and businesses.
    • DPI is also transforming education through e-learning and healthcare through telemedicine, paving the way for a more equitable and accessible future.
    • The true power of DPI was evident during crises.
      • Initiatives like the Garib Kalyan Yojana, which utilised digital banking infrastructure for direct benefit transfers, ensured swift and transparent delivery of financial assistance to millions during the pandemic
      • Digital platforms also facilitated access to vital information, healthcare services, and emergency assistance, leaving no one behind.
    • The government’s programmes like the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN), Digital India, National Broadband Mission, and National Data Centre Policy have laid the groundwork for a robust digital infrastructure.
    • The Bharat Net Project, with its ambitious goal of connecting villages through high-speed internet, serves as a prime example. 
    • Additionally, the government’s commitment is evident in establishing Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces and fostering domestic production of telecom equipment through Production Linked Incentive schemes.
    • The government has undertaken monumental steps to advance DPI.
      •  The Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) trinity has resulted in millions of new bank accounts and streamlined direct benefit transfers, eliminating leakages and ensuring targeted delivery of welfare programmes.
    • Initiatives like Ayushman Bharat Mission and Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP) are transforming healthcare and logistics sectors respectively. 
    • Innovative solutions such as digilockers and authentication frameworks empower citizens with secure storage and access to vital documents. 
    • Digital platforms like ONDC are further empowering small businesses by providing a global marketplace.
    • Portals like the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) offer a one-stop platform for everything from birth certificates to land records.
      • This digitalization has streamlined processes, reduced bureaucracy, and enhanced transparency.
    • The digital divide still persists, and ensuring equitable access to technology and internet connectivity remains a priority.
    • Inadequate digital infrastructure, lack of digital literacy still exist
      • structural weaknesses could hamper the adoption of innovative digital solutions
    • Concerns regarding accountability and data protection also require careful consideration.
    • Cyberattacks and breaches of data privacy are emerging challenges that governments face in this digital age
    • Digital Public Infrastructure is crucial in addressing important global challenges such as climate change and the need for responsive and effective public finance.
    • It’s important to engage in infrastructure-first thinking to catalyse the ecosystem to create solutions that empower people and protect our planet.
    • Looking ahead, India has immense potential to lead the global conversation on DPI development.
    •  India can serve as a role model for developing nations, promoting multilateral dialogue to establish universal standards and fostering sustainable financing models for global DPI development.
    Mains Practise Question 
    [Q] What are  the transformations brought about by India’s Digital Public Infrastructure? Discuss the emerging challenges and ways to tackle them.